25hours Ahoy! Even if the 25hours Hotel isn’t a ship, the harbour city of Hamburg is my next destination and I am on my way to the waterfront, the ‘Hafencity’ (harbour city area) and to the 25hours Hotel.
Luckily it won’t take me 25 hours to get to the Hafencity Hamburg, as I wait in front of a large hotel at Potsdamer Platz for my car to be brought around (see my last blog entry). The large boot of the car is quickly loaded with my substantial photo equipment and cases and the navigation system is telling me that I have a little under three hours and 300 km (180 miles) to Hamburg. Without traffic I would have been a lot speedier and so unfortunately I can only reach my top speed of 200 km/h (124 m/h) on a few occasions. But then again I’m not complaining, being comfortably chauffeured through the city in the Kia Sorento is a more than a pleasant experience.
25 hours promise you an extra hour to relax, sleep or enjoy a special hotel experience. And, and, and; the list goes on. It will certainly be something extraordinary.
And I’m off. The doors close automatically with a prominent short ‘click’ and the instructions of the navigation system guide me safely through the city. Taking me from the Spree to the Elbe and from the capital to the Gateway of the World – ‘Tor zur Welt’ – the city at the harbour. I am looking forward to the sound of the waves at the Elbe, the crying of the seagulls, the huge ships and that feeling of a whole wide world out there which the harbour encapsulates.
Arrival at the 25hours Hotel. Luckily it only took me 180 minutes to get to the Hafencity, due to a free left lane and an immediate free spot at the front of the hotel. Almost as if it had been kept free especially for me. Unfortunately, you cannot stay parked at the front of the hotel, so later on I drive down to Germany’s largest underground car park (3400 spaces) directly underneath the hotel. Thanks to the rear camera’s large display, I easily slot myself into a space next to the hotel’s own garage entrance. How practical!
As I enter the hotel I have a feeling as though both seadog Käpt’n Blaubär and the sailor Kuttel Daddeldu were the inspiration to create this hotel filled with harbour flair. A place where real sea dogs but also landlubbers can feel at home. Of course these two famous and fictitious figments of a sailor’s imagination are not responsible for the hotel, but those behind the exceptional lifestyle hotel-chain 25hours. The well-known Hamburg hotelier Kai Hollmann, who was also responsible for Hamburg’s top hotels The George and Gastwerk and three partners from the hotel business, one of whom is CEO Christoph Hoffmann – 25hours Hotel’s very own sailor Kuttel Daddeldu who I am told is himself deeply connected to seafaring, has a good soul, yet roughshod and somewhat raunchy in character. And that is exactly how the 25hours Hotel at Hafencity wanted, and turned out to be.
Standing in the lobby, I almost feel like I am on board a cargo ship taking on passengers. Or in a sailor’s harbour home which provides welcome shelter for seamen seeking refuge and ground under their feet. A place where ocean and harbour isn’t far away; and neither are the memories from a life on board.
I look up at the six metre high ceiling above me with open pipes running through. On the left, behind a cosy seating corner with book and magazine laden tables, there are a culmination of orange ship container elements with the Hapag Lloyd emblem. They build a wall front and a gap in the wall makes room for a 10-person conference table.
This interior gives you the impression that you are sitting in the middle of a freight container. On my arrival, the ‘Captain’, sorry Hotel Manager, is sitting there having a chat with the ship’s cook from the galley. And relaxed as it all is, eating or drinking a few beers here under the ship’s propeller on the wall, is also no problem.
You will find the reception desk next to the Hapag containers and you could be mistaken in thinking that someone was in quite a hurry to put together a few planks and wooden crates. But let me assure you, that that is completely intentional and of the finest carpentry. A ‘Welcome to Hamburg’ sign hangs above the reception and on the floor in front of you, a big yellow ‘Check In’. As is customary on ships and with sailors there is a relaxed atmosphere here and guests are greeted in a professional yet casual and friendly way. There are no fancy frills here like in certain noble hotels. And if it isn’t to your taste, then just let them know. That’s also ok.
At the other end of the lobby and to the right of the hotel entrance is the restaurant with the wonderful name ‘Heimat’ or Home which changes into a breakfast room, bar and lounge depending on the time of day. Behind the restaurant are the lifts, whose compartments look like over-dimensional wooden crates, transporting its guests to the upper decks by cargo crane.
One floor higher and there are three rooms to chill, relax and/or work in. In the Club Room you can chill on the leather gym springbok furniture and sofas or play table football whilst drinking free cups of tea. The workaholics among you can enjoy the Radio Room with work-stations housing iMacs, printers and Skype cabins. And for those who hark back to the bygone days of analogue music pre CD and IPod, you can listen to records on turntables or yet better still, on the record players in the Vinyl Room. Unfortunately, this is also the hotel’s smoker’s area, so not suitable for all guests. Maybe that’s a point the hotel management could think about.
I enter my room on the 4th floor, and being on board a 25hours Hotel Hafencity ‘ship’ my room is not a room but named Koje or bunk. Kuttel Daddeldu and his friends must have been here already. Sailors on shore-leave seem to be imprinted onto the wallpaper. Large and small drawings; some raunchy, others funny. From witnesses of sea and harbour adventures both great and small. Feelings varying from homesickness to wanderlust, tough guys to floozies, faraway places, the love of the sea and plenty of sailor’s tales to tell. Tales of which can be read in the logbook displayed in all of the 170 rooms.
Every ‘bunk’ has wallpapered illustrations such as those in my room and they are especially made for the hotel. Custom made is also the open trunk, functioning as a work desk and made by a local carpenter. Written on my sea voyager’s desk: ‘Thirst is worse than homesickness’. Another few words of sailor’s wisdom! The solution is then presented to me in the form of a cold bottle of beer sitting happily in an ice bucket. Well then, cheers!
But wait a minute, I still want to drive to the harbour so the beer will have to wait. Although the Hafencity highlights are accessible on foot from the hotel, the other side of the Elbe is hard to explore without a car. You can catch the ferry quite easily over the river, to the harbour theatre for example, where Lion King has been performing for years. But in order to catch the really big ‘fish’, in this case, the huge ships and freight containers, then a car is a must.
So, a harbour excursion it is! The Kia Sorento takes me east along part of the Elbe and then over the Elbbrücken – Elbe bridges, which cross the northern side of the Elbe. After that it’s direction west until I get to the Harbour Museum, where harbour history can be experienced and explored.
Along the streets and through the gigantic harbour area; where thousands of containers are stacked, to the old St. Pauli Elbtunnel near the harbour theatre. From this spot you get a wonderful view of the distinctive architecture of the Hafencity with the Elb-Philharmonic, the Marco Polo Tower and the Unilever Germany headquarters.
It’s getting dark so it’s worth a trip to the Köhlbrandt Bridge then a detour to the Eurogate container terminals and HHLA at the Burchardkai (quay). From here you can get the very best views of the really big cargo ships. It’s an evening spectacle of lights as the illuminated freight ships and cranes are hard at work loading and unloading.
What an excursion!
Now I have a real appetite as I head back to the hotel and to the ‘Heimat’ restaurant. Luckily I reserved a table because the place is packed! As usual, I am told. Rustical chairs and tables dominate the room. Several guests are sitting on thick piles of carpet which are half a meter high. Huge angular lights hang from the ceiling and project warm red light onto the guests. On the other side of the room a DJ plays cool lounge music which then changes into hip hop as the evening wears on. Yes, the interior has warehouse character but with style. Everything has been carefully selected and combined. I try the traditional Hamburg speciality Labskaus (A combination of salted meat or corned beef, potatoes, onion and in my case with an egg and pickles added).
Looks ‘interesting’, I think. And it tasted surprisingly delicious! Combined with a beer and I’m feeling good.
Waking up the next morning, I can hear the harbour seagulls crying at the window. What a view from my room; pardon, bunk. The Marco Polo Tower, Unilever headquarters and the cruise-ship terminal are bathed in the redness of the sunrise. I sense the harbour atmosphere – Wanderlust! A quick breakfast of coffee and fruit in the Heimat. Best coffee ever! From Elbgold, a fair-trade coffee roasting company from Hamburg.
Departure Time. The Kia Sorento is ready for the off as I leave 25hours Hotel Hafencity; after 25 hours. A memorable trip which was both exceptional and wonderful.
As the skippers say in Hamburg, ‘Tschüss’!
So, Tschüss 25hours Hotel Hafencity!
Article and photography: © Peter von Stamm (All rights reserved!)
25hours Hotel Hamburg HafenCity
phone: ++49 40 25 77 77 0
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— Blogbox-Reisen (@BBReisen) 21. Juli 2015