You need to see Berlin’s Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) if it’s the last thing you do before Christmas Day – quite literally. As the largest department store in mainland Europe, you’d struggle to wander the glamorously decorated halls without impulse purchasing.
Anyone who enters from street level underneath the tremendously large glass arch looming above will notice a shift from a bustling urban thoroughfare into a more opulent retail world – where perfume penetrates the nostrils and the unnaturally lit corridors highlight thousand-euro price tags.
From the ground floor up you’re taken on a journey through continental Europe and abroad. Beauty and nail salons are first on the list, mixed in-between the ‘Luxury Boulevard’, home to top tier fashion houses from Gucci and Miu Miu to Tod’s and Yves Saint Laurent. If you’ve heard it mentioned on a Celebrity red carpet, assume you’d probably find it here.
One tier up is men’s apparel and another is women’s fashion. Level three is nicknamed ‘the Loft’ – Germany’s largest selection of shoes, as well as women’s leather goods and lingerie, children’s clothes and a hairdresser.
Level four is an interior designers dream and is the kind of plush cushion superstore you’d imagine Catherine Martin would piece together much of her Oscar-winning inspiration. Lamps to linen, porcelain to pottery, if IKEA had a wealthy older aunt this is what she’d look like.
Another escalator skyward is where you’ll locate enough stunning stationary to put Smiggle to shame. And then there’s electronics, entertainment and toys too – a wonderful opportunity to exhaust yourself with any youngins strapped at the hip before heading upstairs to the Kaufhaus pride and joy…
The food hall – commonly known as ‘Delicatessen’ has over 30 gourmet counters, with more than 110 cooks, 40 bakers and confectioners spread across them. For Berliners and Europeans afar it’s one of the grandest reasons this monolithic mall has stood the test of time, having even been rebuilt after the Second World War for future fashion and culinary connoisseurs. In the early 1990s the top level was converted into a winter garden and restaurant, with room for over 1000 diners – a suitably lush indoor hangout to avoid the frosty north German winds.
With a grand total 60,000m2 shop floor– the equivalent size of an Olympic Stadium and then some, this magnificent department store puts a number of global contenders to shame for its symbolic strength, quality and product choice. But the best reason to shop here over Christmas is quite simple… It’s just so darn pretty!