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Trader Vic's Berlin review

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This just opened last Thursday. Here is a review by my friend and BOT cover artist Moritz R.:

The Hilton Berlin is definitely not the Hotel Bayrischer Hof in Munich that hosts a Trader Vic's as well. It is a brandnew building with lots of light grey marble and cheapish looking gold inside, charming like a block of ice. There's a red Trader Vic's sign above the inside entrance of the bar and you are welcomed by a well known type of tiki that you can also meet at the entrance in Munich. Before you enter the actual restaurant you go through a little room passing by a wooden Easter Island tiki and there's another big impressive tiki statue down the stairs.

The place looks really new. It's big and spacious, a bit like the Trader Vic's in London, not unpleasant, although some people prefer a romantic design full of nooks and crannies. Obviously the goal of the designers was to avoid using even the smallest piece of bamboo. There is virtually none at all. Most of it is dark brown wood and light ochre walls. About five big colums hold the ceiling. Two of them are covered with brown wood with a ring in the middle. You could imagine these look like stylized 4 feet thick pieces of bamboo, but only if you have a lot of imagination. There are some nice details, like a row of wooden tiki statues in between the table recesses at the right side. There are different levels, the floor is higher at the sides and lower in the middle of the room.

There is a wall with primitive masks, that is the only part of the restaurant that doesn't look very clean and reminds one of primitive art and the original theme of this reastaurant chain. The ochre walls are painted in a brushy stained 80ish manner. They give the entire room a rather bright appeal, you could say it looks like a modern protestant church rather than like a tropical hut. Actually the place doesn't resemble a tropical hut at all. It really looks like some 90s post-modern architecture where exotic objects happen to be around. On the ceiling you find lots of these obligatory fishnets with colored glass balls, which unfortunately are not lit from the inside. Instead there's indirect blue light on the ceiling that makes it look like steel concrete in a parking building. The objects on the ceiling look somewhat lost and not very diverse. There isn't even a single set of shark teeth.

Despite some groups of Tiki poles there are mostly nautical objects, models of ships, pictures of ships, but old European ships, no south sea boats, no outrigger canoos. The lights are pleasant. Not too bright, not too dark and mostly indirect. You can see the big wok oven with its open fire from almost everywhere in the big room. The candle lamps on the tables look rather cheap compared to the double tiki figures you still find in older Trader Vic's.

The worst part of the evening was the music. There was a singer with a guitar, obviously from Spain or Colombia, and so was the music. When he arrived at "Guantanamera" you knew what you were in for and felt like in some cheap tourist's place in Mallorca. When he was not performing there would be the same type of Spanish background music from CD. It was really disapponting so I asked one of the pretty but blonde waitresses to call for the guy who's responsible for the music. (Why I assumed there is "a guy responsible" for it I don't know). Well... SHE thought I like the music so much, that I want to know what it is and brought me the sleeve of the CD that was playing. I asked her if she was aware what the theme, the character and the design of Trader Vic's is at all. She wasn't. She turned out to be a big fan of the music that was playing, but was happy as well when I promised to bring some exotic CDs eventually the next time I would visit the bar. I still don't understand why the people who run Trader Vic's bars around the world are not trained the least bit to be able to make a distinction between the South Seas and the Caribean. What ignorance! The right kind of music would improve the quality of the whole place by at least 100%!

Actually it wasn't very crowded any time we were present. Which makes me hope that the owners of the Trader Vic's will see the need to open up a Happy Hour one day. Which would be kind of essential, at least for me, to make the Trader Vic's a regular place to visit at all. The cocktail prices are insane. Like the Munich Sour especially designed for the Munich TrV's they have a special Berlin cocktail called something like Berlin Bear Paw or so. It's made with rasberries (!) and tastes... silly. Don't order it! The Mai Tai, the basic reference drink, is very good though.

It looks as if the 21st century doesn't stop in front of the doors of Trader Vic's. Wether people like me will get used to the new appeal such places seem to be getting, or wether new generations of exotica lovers will accept this as unique exotica design, only the future will tell. I must say I wasn't really impressed, but neither was I completely disappointed. I think it's neccessary to go new ways, but in detail things in the new Trader Vic's of Berlin could certainly be improved. Says the artist in me.



studio ® --- http://www.moritzR.de

Thanks for the review. Well it looks like Trader Vic's in Berlin is a must-see if you're already in Berlin, but not THE reason to go to Berlin in the first place. (If you see what I mean). I'm hoping that these new 'Light & uncluttered' style Vic's don't end up doing so well that they decide to 'update' (ie. ruin) the old classics. Ideally, these new ones would underperform to the extent that someone will make the decision to crank up the Tiki decor a few notches.

Anyway, thanks again Moritz R for the review, and Bigbro for posting it.

Trader Woody


Update on Berlin Vic's:

I was just in Berlin on business and made it a point to get a hotel downtown (Hotel Jolly Vivaldi right by the Friedrich Str. S-Bahn station)> I ended up going to Trader Vic's for dinner on Thursday with a German colleague and liked the food so much I went back again Friday evening before heading to the Tabou Tiki Room.

Anyway, while the layout is still open they have used a lot of oversized bamboo and rataan chairs and matching tables to create a lot of mini conversation areas. They have also improved the general decor of the place by getting tips from the proprietress (April) of the Tabou Tiki Room. The bar staff seemed very knowledgeable about their craft plus this particular Vic's has all of the authentic trademark barware in which to serve your particular libation of choice. They now do have a happy hour as well. The restaraunt staff has been bolstered by Pierre the Assistant Manager who spent over a decade at the Hamburg TV's before spending the final year and half at the Chicago location before it closed.

The Tabou Tiki Room is a nice little venue with a very dedicated staff who take their drinks seriously. Excellent tiki decor and music. April was a great hostess and I just hope next time I am in town it will coincide with some of the live entertainment they schedule. I picked up one of the last of their signature mugs so the Farm better get busy.

[ Edited by: rugbymatt 2008-05-30 14:39 ]


And this is how the Trader Vic´s Berlin looks like:

The unusual spanish music as mentioned above was still there, but the waitress changed from blonde to dark haired and very beautiful and polynesian style looking. A quite unusual place - would love to have some dinner there next time I visit.

[ Edited by: Matahina 2008-05-30 02:00 ]

To so artfully display several Tiki columns that have been sawed in two and decapitated shows either a total ignorance of the art form, or the cold hard realization that in Berlin, maybe 2 % of the clientele will realize that fact, and less than 1% percent will see it as the cultural crime it is.

Another sad day. I was informed by the staff at the Berlin Trader Vics that they are closing at the end of March 2009. Several of the staff have already left and others will be leaving soon. Some are taking positions with other Trader Vics. According to the staff, the decision was made by Hilton.

Since I am not due back in Berlin till April, tonight is my last 'Old Fashioned' Mai Tai at this Trader Vics. :(

bummer if its true.


According to the staff, the decision was made by Hilton.

So, Hilton killed another one.

Just like the Palmer House in Chicago.

Seems like they are eating their young as times get tough.

While I loved the Palmer House Vic's, I am quite impressed with the new stand-alone Vic's in Chicago.

I think they will succeed in ways that the other one didn't, with less hassles.

@rugbymatt: thx for the update. Haven't been there for a while, looks they really improved something. Good reason to pay the Berlin Trader Vic's another visit.


Another sad day.

Indeed. I am sensing a trend of such days in recent weeks. To think, I just got some actual good news regarding Trader Vic's and now I hear this news soon after. Sigh. Sigh, with prejudice.

Berlin is a great city, one of my favorites. This Vic's is one I will remember fondly. I had some good times there and am sorry to hear it is on the way out. The lack of business was pretty apparent during my brief stay, so this is not much of a surprise. Still, the loss of what I consider to be a solid Vic's is a discouraging turn of events.

Franchises opening here, closing there. It's a bit puzzling.

Support your local tiki bar!


Holy crap, I was planning to visit this place for my birthday in may...now I gotta be quick to see it at least once before the doors close forever. What a shame!

On 2009-02-26 08:55, NautiTiki wrote:
... the Berlin Trader Vics ...
... closing at the end of March 2009 ...

wtf ?



On their site, TV is proud that Paris Hilton visited the Berlin location in Dec. Maybe that's what happened!


[ Edited by: Turbogod 2009-03-03 11:10 ]


So my wife & I went there last friday and I've got to admit that my impression was rather mixed. We had about 3 cocktails each and they were really good. On the other hand side, the food (tidbits & dim sum) was no good at all. The bar itself was quite nice (my wife loved the tapa-like walls) but the music (brazilian, pop...even Enya :( ) made me mad. Service was very typically german - she came by every 5 minutes when we still had drinks but as soon as we finished she left us to wither. No problem though as the rattan chairs are sooo comfy, even without a drink :D
As mentioned before, the interior would need some tweaking here and there. Actual float lamps and some cover to that naked ceiling would add tons of atmosphere.
Despite these flaws we really enjoyed our drinks and I guess we'll have to visit again before they close.

Some crappy shots from my mobile:


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