Berlin isn’t necessarily the place most people first think of for great food, but one Henrik Tidefjärd is changing all of that with his Gastro-Rallye tours of Berlin. Berlinagenten, Henrik’s company, is a hip tour guide agency that offers bespoke lifestyle tours of Berlin, imparting some serious knowledge of the city’s best secret spots to people willing to pony up the cash for such delights. And delights they are. Considering all this, we decided to pick Henrik’s brain about his company and some of his favourite Berlin spots. Who better?

Tell us a bit about what Berlinagenten is and does.

We are specialised in urban insider guidance: Get under the skin of Berlin with our energetic lifestyle tour company whose fun guides whisk you off the beaten track and introduce you to unique locations, people, shops, art galleries, restaurants, clubs and culture sites.

For gourmets and cosmopolitans, we offer a variety of lifestyle tours and contemporary incentive programs. We take our clients one step further beyond the main attractions and behind the exterior façade of the city. We show you the new and unusual Berlin – places that would normally not be discovered since you often pass them by without noticing them, hidden places and spaces, which seem closed to the general public!

Since the start in 2004, I have also focused on global travel trends and cool hunting. This means, I am roaming the world approximately three months of the year in order to keep up-to-date with creative destinations and get inspiration. Berlin is my source of inspiration and the world my escape…

Our in-depth expertise: Urban Development, lifestyle of the citizens, local habits and manners, dynamic changes, new impulses, the importance of entrepreneurship, the creative scene and its secrets, infamous venues, the legendary Berlin nightlife scene, anti-touristic Berlin, anarchy & anti-capitalism, Berliner drug aspects, local differences between East & West as well as between neighbourhoods (fashion, art, food, music, nightlife, etc)and much more!

How did you come up with this unique idea for a “lifestyle” tour company?

I settled down in Berlin 2001 and realised that Berlin does not have the usual infrastructure with one major city centre and some “hoods” to visit. In Berlin, everything is totally random and spread out with East and West as the main cities and on each side you will find many “centres” with totally different styles and lifestyles. During the daytime, it seems like the historical “Mitte” or Kudamm in the West are the centres, but at night they’re dead. In most capitals around Europe, you go into the centre and can get lost in the buzz with people, restaurants, cafes, clubs, shops, etc., but in Berlin it’s the opposite – you need to leave the centre and find the way to the buzz in the ‘hoods surrounding the major down towns. Very confusing for tourists/first-time visitors and they might find Berlin boring if they don’t know about the messy/odd infrastructure. As a result of this, I felt that somebody had to be “Mother Theresa” and show all the lost visitors the right way to go in order to see the real side of the city (where you have the buzz at night). I started with the “urban insider” in mind and developed different lifestyle tours in order to discover Berlin’s hidden gems with a more edgy angle.  And the Gastro-Rallye was my first product to develop and is now the most popular!

What are the top locations that the tours cover in Berlin? Are they all back-street hidden gems, or are there some mainstream ‘must see’ Berlin sites mixed in too?

The locations do not need to be “top” – it’s more important that they fulfill my criteria concerning service, uniqueness/innovative food, inspiration and location. It can be anything between a quirky fast food inn and a gourmet temple. They are not all back-street gems or hidden places but in a city with approx 13,000 restaurants over an area nine times bigger than Paris, the chance for first-time visitors to find one of the restaurants included on the tour on their own is minimal.

Mainstream is out of my world and if the restaurant looks mainstream, then I have chosen it because of a cool sommelier or innovative food!

Can you tell us about your ‘go local’ tour concept?

All tours and programs are individual and the guests are exclusive “on the road” with a private guide who knows everything about real life and the interesting things to do and see in Berlin. The concept is “go local” together with our guides who are like “friends” on-site. This means you will see and do things that locals do or we will teach you to do so.

You’ve had some celebs ‘go local’ with you – which famous names have you guided around Berlin?

We have guided over 2,000 journalists since 2004 through the Berliner scene and our “standard” guests are demanding companies, managers, trendsetters and individual travellers from all over the world. We love to entertain them all! And without our celeb guests, we are not a real lifestyle agency. For example, Tara Reid, Kelly Rowlands, Måns Herngren, Peter Jöback, Madonna’s daughter Lourdes have gone “local” with us…

What traditional Berlin lifestyle experiences do you offer on your tours?

We define lifestyle as the local habits or the different scenes of the city. It can be to drink a beer on the street (legal in Berlin), hang out in an edgy bar, visit a vibrant or fun café, walk into art galleries, talk to shop owners or anyone you may bump into on the street. Eating and drinking are among the most important lifestyle experiences in Berlin, I think. Berliners tend to do it all the time, around the clock! And of course: going wild in a club is a must, no matter age!

You offer a large selection of different tours. Can you give us a glimpse description of the different styles of tours you offer? In particular, the Gastro-Rallye.

We  have a number of different tours, from the Gastro-Rallye food tours to an art tour of Kreuzberg and a nightlife tour that shows some of the best clubs and bars of Berlin. We also customised new tours or we combine two or even three tours in one if the guests want it in that way. Our client decides what and how they want it and we will let them know if it’s possible or if it makes sense…

Time schedule (example):

6pm Meeting point, introduction & sightseeing (walking)

6.15 Gastro-Stop 1: starter at one restaurant

7.30 Sightseeing with lifestyle guide (walking)

7.45 Gastro-Stop 2: main course at a restaurant

9pm Sightseeing with lifestyle guide (walking)

9.15 Gastro-Stop 3: dessert at a restaurant. Here we give lots of local insider tips for the rest of the stay and our guests don’t need to search or look for anything. First-hand concierge service (most important added values we offer)

10.30 Tour ends (we put the guests in a taxi back to the hotel or send them to a nice bar or address where they can continue the night out)

What are some of your personal favourite spots in Berlin? Where would you take visiting friends to go out, eat or play?

My favourite spots in Berlin:

-I definitely would go for dinner and party at member club hotel with my friends, such as Soho House.

-To hang out at some of the beach bars a hot summer day at river Spree, e.g. Badeschiff

-Visit Monsterkabinett – an underground venue with quirky monsters which come to life… Edgy!

Buck and Breck – a 14-seat bar – is a true gem, totally hidden next door to a police station, and boasts with creative cocktails and great service.

Check out the full Hg2 Berlin city guide for more info and inspiration.