Land ho! Trying to figure out where you should go for your next girly getaway, lads’ weekend or quick city-break? Then look no further – Hamburg welcomes visitors of all kinds to its vibrant, electro-loving shores. A cult favourite of none other than The Beatles back in the 60s, Hamburg is a must-see on everyone’s list. Here’s why…
A haven for Instagram-worthy architecture and sleek, urban design, Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany (and undeniably one of the coolest).
Affectionately known as the ‘Venice of the North‘ thanks to its hundreds of winding canals – more than Amsterdam and Venice put together – Hamburg has an industrial-yet-nautical vibe quite unlike that of other German cities.
The maritime-infused city has something to appeal to every visitor, be it shopping, nightlife, the theatre (they LOVE musicals in Hamburg), gastronomy or culture. It’s got all the necessary ingredients for the perfect city-break; think hipster hangouts, flea markets, edgy graffiti, underground cafes, high-end retail – lots of shoe shops – and a deliciously tacky-but-trendy entertainment district.
Brimming full of action with more than 40 theatres, 60 museums and 100 music venues and clubs, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is a city you can visit time and time again and still manage to discover something new hidden gem. After being included in so many ‘Best to visit in 2017’ lists, there’s never been a better time to visit this edgy port city, and we know exactly where you should call home while you’re there…
Where should I stay in Hamburg?
An authentic German hotel, Hotel Hafen Hamburg is the perfect place to stay for your first visit to the Hanseatic city (but also great for your third time around). Rambling across two buildings, one old and one new, the historic maritime hotel is located directly above the famous ‘Landungsbrücken’, the St.Pauli docks.
One of the most famous neighbourhoods and trendiest spots in all of Hamburg, St Pauli’s well-connected and central location is one of the main reasons people return to the Hotel Hafen Hamburg time and time again. After all, if Hamburg can claim the title ‘the gateway to the word’, then St. Pauli is surely the launch pad to all that is current and cool in the Hanseatic city.
A stay in the Hotel Hafen Hamburg means you are docked right in centre of all the action, as the hotel attracts everyone from groups of young German businessmen on a conference to girly-weekenders and stag dos from London.
There is a constant conveyor belt of people milling up and down the grand steps leading to the hotel, setting out in the morning for a day of exploring and returning in the evening for good food and drink – the absolute perfect spot for some people-watching.
Quirky and nautical, the hotel boasts unforgettable and unparalleled views of the busy Port of Hamburg and River Elbe. One of the main distinguishing features of the hotel is its distinct personality and charm; on the inside, the hotel is atmospherically lit, with soft, plush patterned carpets and ornate gold railings running up the grand staircases.
Each corner of the hotel is bursting with character, and like a pirate discovering hidden sea treasures, you’ll find yourself looking in every nook and cranny for kitschy nautical artifacts, from wooden chests to ships in glass bottles.
Your bedroom in Hamburg
Stretching over the contemporary and traditional wings of the hotel, there are several different types of accommodation in the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, each suiting different budgets and tastes.
Couples, make the most of your stay in Hamburg and book one of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg’s 95 Commander’s Class rooms! Located in the hotel’s classic wing, the nautical-style rooms are bright and cosy, with high ceilings, dark wooden furniture and soft red carpets.
Despite the rooms’ close proximity to the bustling port, you’re guaranteed a peaceful sleep; immaculately dressed in crisp white sheets, the double-beds are a generous size (1.8 metres wide) and extremely comfortable – perfect for a relaxing slumber after a long day of exploring the city.
Rooms in Cabin Class are situated in the modern “Cabin Residence” area of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. These rooms are ideally suited to short city breaks, especially if you’re thinking of biting the bullet and planning your first solo trip!
Tucked away in the tastefully designed environment of the “Residence”, Captain’s Class rooms also enjoy the newly-refurbished section of the hotel with its own dedicated entrance and reception team, as well as separate breakfast area. As twin beds are available in these rooms, they’re the best ones to book for a trip with the girls. The hotel’s seven Family Rooms are also situated in the Cabin Residence.
The hotel rooms in Hotel Hafen Hamburg aren’t the typical ‘trouser press and towel swan’ kind of space, but continue to embrace the hotel’s chintzy little quirks, from a novelty rubber duck living by the bathroom sink to the ‘Apple a day keeps the doctor away’ (with real apple!) shelf on the bedroom wall.
The comfort and personality of the hotel isn’t just limited to the bedrooms themselves, either; the clean, modern bathrooms in each “class” boast an extensive range of toiletries and personal care items, and even include a selection of fabulous Fair-Trade products.
Your food in Hamburg
It is a truth universally acknowledged that buffet breakfasts are the single greatest thing about hotel breaks. With this mantra in mind, breakfast at The Port restaurant doesn’t disappoint. The spread is, in one word, extensive.
The hot breakfast option includes all the standard items, but a nice touch is the boiled eggs cooked to your preference (important if you fall hard on the side of either soft or hard-boiled yolks), while guests can choose from three different types of honey, as well as lot of tasty fruit preserves and even Nutella. (What is breakfast without Nutella? Nothing, that’s what).
The feast goes on to cover fresh fruit salads, delicious pastries, cold meats, generous cheese board (along with lactose-free options), several different types of cereals and granola and of course, bread – a real German staple. The tea selection in the Hotel Hafen Hamburg will be a real winning point for guests from the British Isles, featuring both English and Irish breakfast.
Dinner is also served in the Port Restaurant, in the elegant dining room with panoramic windows, crystal chandeliers and white linens. The restaurant serves North German specialties as well as international cuisine, with room to sit 180 guests comfortably in a calm and refined experience.
The service is attentive and polite, and only mildly teasing if you have to take countless pictures of your dinner with a DSLR (a quick Snap on your smartphone should garner less attention). During the summer months, you can enjoy your dinner on the wrap-around terrace with views over the harbour before heading for a wild night on the Reeperbahn.
For something more casual and rustic, pop into Willi’s Bierstube bar and lounge; with a large fireplace, old photographs and countless seafaring objects, it’s a one-of-a-kind place to enjoy some hearty pub-grub accompanied by a freshly tapped Pils beer.
Alternatively, The Hafen Diner is the hotel’s open-plan, Hanseatic American-style eatery. Situated on-site with floor-to-ceiling windows, the diner accommodates up to 140 guests and serves classic American burgers with hints of local cuisine.
For a leisurely lunch, grab a squashy leather booth and choose from selected burgers, sides and soft drinks, all for under a tenner. Head there in the evening to sample some of their yummy drinks in a buzzy yet relaxed atmosphere, or enjoy a laidback game of billiards.
For an even snazzier cocktail, venture up to the 62-metre high Tower Bar and marvel at the unique view over Hamburg after a day of hitting the shops. Loved by guests and locals alike, the modern and atmospheric bar serves 70 different types of cocktails until 2am, with Happy Hour running from 6pm-7pm.
If you fancy dining out during your stay at the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, then make sure you go to the Portuguese quarter of St. Pauli; only a ten-minute walk from the hotel, the area is brimming with lots of affordable and extremely tasty Portuguese, Brazilian and Italian restaurants.
What is the Hotel Hafen Hamburg close to?
The location of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg couldn’t be better, with direct connections to Hamburg Central Station, Hamburg Airport and the Altstadt (old town).
The hotel faces the famous St Pauli Piers – the largest landing place in the Port of Hamburg – right between the lower harbour and the Fischmarkt on the banks of the River Elbe. (Locals insist that the only way to do Hamburg properly is by sampling a fish butty at 5am after a night in the Reeperbahn, right before you collapse into bed!).
All of Hamburg’s main attractions are easily accessible from the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, including Sankt Michaelis Kirche. The most famous church in the city, it boasts a 132-meter high Baroque spire, and is an iconic feature of Hamburg’s skyline – the Eiffel Tower of Hamburg, if you will!
The newly-finished Elbphilharmonie is also within walking distance of the hotel; sitting atop an old warehouse, the 360-foot-tall glass structure features a distinctive spiky roof, intended to mimic sails and reflect the city’s maritime past.
Hop on the U3 at Landungsbrücken – just a 5-minute walk from Hotel Hafen Hamburg – and enjoy a spending spree in the upmarket shopping street of Neuer Wall. Located in Neustadt, it stretches from the Jungfernstieg promenade on Lake Binnenalster to Stadthausbrücke.
While you’re there, take a break from the retail therapy and admire the Neo-Renaissance architecture of the town hall at the Rathausmarkt square.
Just 10 minutes on the 111 bus from Landungsbrücken will get you wandering through the largest warehouse district in the world and Unesco World Heritage site, the historic Speicherstadt.
For guests in search of a night on the town, the hotel is an easy walk to the renowned Reeperbahn, which is home to the red light district as well as some of the best nightclubs and hot-spots in the city. The Beatles played here in their early days during the 1960s, now commemorated with the creation of the Beatles-Platz.
A 5-minute trip on the U-bahn from the hotel will see you grabbing a coffee from one of the independent cafes in Sternschanze, a hip and urban entertainment precinct filled with boutique shops and eye-catching street art.
Take a short bus journey from St. Pauli to discover your inner child in Miniatur Wunderland; a model railway, it’s the largest of its kind in the world. Then, get your fill of culture at Kunsthalle Hamburg (one of the largest museums in the country) by admiring the modern, contemporary and 19th-century art collections and temporary exhibitions.
If your feet are tired (and they should be after all ofthese adventures!) then jump on one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours directly opposite the hotel by the harbour; they’ll show you another side of Hamburg, with lots of greenery and posh white villas. Fun fact: they’re Karl Lagerfeld – a Hamburg native – even designed the interiors for one of them. (Serious interior design envy over here).
Hamburg is a touch of Copenhagen, a touch of Amsterdam and a touch of Stockholm – but really, it’s 100% in its very own league of cool European city-breaks.
Why not check Hamburg out for yourself and add it to your own travel bucket list?