There are lots of great hotels in Hamburg. I recommend the Grand Elysée Hotel Hamburg. This is a family-owned hotel located downtown, yet surrounded by beautiful parks. Many Hamburgers enjoy eating in one of the three excellent restaurants. Not to forget the great and relaxing spa and pool area. The main lobby has somehow become the living room of the town – it’s just lovely.
Rothenbaumchaussee 10; +49 40 41 4120; www.grand-elysee.com
Dine about town
I simply love Strauchs Falco, situated in the newest and very modern part of town called HafenCity. Tobias Strauch combines northern German cuisine with oriental accents. Fish and fruits de mer are great and don’t miss out on one of his many carpaccios – some are based on fish, others on meat and some are even vegetarian. My favourite one is made of kohlrabi and apples.
Koreastrasse 2; +49 40 22 61 61511; www.falco-hamburg.de
Hamburg is famous for its high-end shopping and Alsterhaus is the department store of the town. Go around the corner to Neuer Wall for all the classic brands including Hamburg’s own Jill Sander. Also, the Karolinenviertel – especially the Marktstrasse – is worth a stroll especially for the younger and trendier people. Herr von Eden is a must for men who enjoy wearing elegant but fun clothing.
Near the town hall you will find Le Lion. All of Hamburg is raving about their cocktails. My favourite is the Gin Basil Smash that was invented here. You will meet a lot of locals, so it is a good opportunity to practice your German. The Café Paris, which has the same owner as Le Lion and is located across the street, has become an institution. Go there for a tartare before or after Le Lion.
Of course there is Filmfest Hamburg, an annual international film festival, starting this year on October 1 with 140 films. For 10 days, Hamburg brings together international celebrities and up-and-coming film talents; it’s the best opportunity to meet the people behind and in front of the cameras. For more classic art, enjoy Hamburg’s upscale opera and ballet. Make sure to book tickets as soon as you start planning your trip.
Harmony & heritage
While we are waiting for the Elbphilharmonie [Elbe Philharmonic Hall] to open , it is already quite a sight. Stroll through HafenCity to this impressive construction site, and don’t miss the Speicherstadt situated next to it. Hamburg’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the world’s largest warehouse district where the beautiful buildings stand on timber-pile foundations. It reminds me of old films and smells of oriental herbs and imported coffee.
The former Danish city Glückstadt, which translates to “Luck City”, is 40 minutes by train from Hamburg. The unique 17th-century city, located on the Elbe River, is famous for its matjes (herring), which is a delicacy, especially from May to June. From there, take the picturesque ferry across the Elbe and drive through Altes Land back to Hamburg. Altes Land is the biggest contiguous fruit-producing region in Central Europe and it is a delight to see and smell all these apples, cherries and pears so close to town.
The Chef’s Table at Haerlin Restaurant is a unique opportunity to dine on Michelin-starred cuisine. Up to eight guests can watch Christoph Rüffer and his team at work. It’s a great idea, and a source of inspiration for amateur cooks.