May 11, 2018
One of the most interesting things about post-unification Berlin is the way it has reclaimed and reused old spaces and buildings. Take Friedrichshain, for example, which used to be a run-down former East Berlin neighbourhood, but is now something of a cool, hipster hangout. And one of its hippest venues is CSA (the acronym for Czechoslovakia’s national airline, which used to be located in this building). Making great use of this enviable space, CSA has the kind of décor that feels both Soviet-retro and futuristic at the same time, and is laid-back in a way that lining up to buy your one-way ticket to Prague in the old days never was. White leather stools line the bar, large windows look out onto the street and there’s plenty of space to relax, whether in the main bar or one of the glass-partitioned areas. Although it can be a little joyless when it’s less full you really can feel like you’re sitting in an airport lounge, albeit a very stylish one as the evening wears on this place really comes to life. The bar is popular with a 30-something artsy / media crowd, who like the sleek, well-lit, leather-couch-filled space and the excellent cocktails. The drinks menu is extensive and though the service can sometimes be slow, the bar staff know their stuff and there’s plenty of choice. Smarter than most of its neighbours (though luckily, no dress code probably a good thing given the area) CSA still manages to be relaxed enough to pop in just for a quick(ish) drink, and is one of Berlin’s most chic spaces.