Hamburg’s maritime spirit has dominated its past but
is also helping to shape its future, as new waterside developments and mould-breaking design hotels see it steal the limelight from Berlin and Munich.
For years, the northwestern district of Karolinenviertel has been home to a
countercultural scene, and today it’s a creative centre for young fashion
designers and clothing shoppers alike. Labels to look out for include Nymphenfieber (Marktstrasse 10), and Garment, which sells cute
short-sleeved shirts from £119 (Marktstrasse 25).
In downtown Hamburg, you’ll find Gärtner, which as well as providing
interiors for offices and homes, acts as a showcase for German design
companies, including Cor and Thonet, and international furniture brands such as
Vitra and USM. Expect to find classics such as the 1930s Kaiser Idell lamp
(£370) sitting alongside the new Vitra Corniches – small, boat-shaped shelves
(Grosse Bleichen 23; closed Sun).
This converted malthouse by the Elbe riverfront is home to
the first of the four branches of Stilwerk:
a self-billed hotspot for international design. Hamburg’s branch, spread over
10 floors, has a collection of more than 30 interior design stores (including Stylery, which sells bright outdoor
puppy-shaped stools for £40), cafés and restaurants, and regular design and
cultural exhibitions (Grosse Elbstrasse 68).
Eating and drinking
Bullerei is the restaurant of German
TV-cook Tim Mälzer. Located in the stables of an old slaughterhouse in the
district of Schanzenviertel, it’s an industrial space with exposed concrete and
brick that embraces the building’s history with a display window of hanging
beef. Expect meaty dishes such as burgers and steak (Lagerstrasse 34b; steaks
25Hours is a
hotel and restaurant in the middle of the new HafenCity harbour district,
Europe’s largest inner-city urban development. Live music and DJs on weekends
accompany dishes such as smoked eel with scrambled eggs, and Frisian beef
tagliata. The restaurant, like the rooms, takes a design nod to the city’s
seafaring tradition – you can sit on a pile of carpets in the bar or read
mariners’ tales told in the log book (Überseeallee 5; mains from £9).
A lovely bar and restaurant in the rather chic district of
Eppendorf, the Marsbar is located
in a red-brick old tram depot. Sit at the bar facing the open kitchen, along
the red leather bench that lines the gallery dining room, or outside on the
terraces, and choose from the daily changing menu. The signature dish here is
the Caesar salad with chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce (Strassenbahnring 2;
closed Sun; mains from £7.50).
Arts and architecture
Located in the former Phoenix Tyre Factory, the Falckenberg Collection is a
private anthology of 2,000 pieces of modern German and American art, mainly
from the last 30 years and from the counterculture movement. Visits are by
guided tour only, which must be booked in advance on the website (Wilstorfer
Strasse 71; tours £13).
The Museum für Kunst
und Gewerbe hosts a vast collection of sculpture, furniture, fashion,
jewellery, posters, musical instruments and household objects in this fun
museum runs the gamut from Italian to Islamic, and Japanese to Viennese,
including an Art Nouveau salon from the 1900 Paris World Fair. There’s also a
design department for kids (Steintorplatz; closed Mon; £8.50).
The brown-brick Chilehaus
is shaped like an ocean liner, with remarkable curved walls meeting in the form
of a ship’s bow and staggered balconies that look like decks. Designed by
architect Fritz Höger, the 1924 building is a leading example of German
Expressionist architecture. The ground floor courtyard is given to shops and
restaurants, allowing visitors a closer nose around (Fischertwiete 2).
BA, easyJet, and Lufthansa fly from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick,
Heathrow, Luton and Manchester to Hamburg (from £85; easyjet. com). The S1
S-Bahn (suburban train) connects the airport with the city centre in 24 minutes
(£2.50). Hamburg’s transport network is divided into zones: the Nahbereich
(central area) covers the part of the city between St Pauli and the
Hauptbahnhof, while the Grossbereich (Greater Hamburg area) encompasses
outlying communities too. S-Bahn and U-Bahn (underground) tickets must be
bought from machines at stations; bus tickets are available from the driver
Where to stay
Arcotel Rubin in St Georg is
done out in gleaming marble and the smallish rooms are dominated by giant
red-leather ‘sunset’ bedheads. There’s also a Viennese coffee house and a gym
(Steindamm 63; from £95).
Riverside Hotel rose from an old brewery site in the rejuvenated Hafenkrone
(harbour crown) precinct in 2008. There are cracking views from the hotel’s
swish 20up Skybar (Bernhard- Nocht-Strasse 97; from £145).
Walls, lamps and furniture at East emulate organic forms – flowers,
trees, droplets – giving a warm, enveloping feel. It also has a wellness
centre, Japanese garden and sunken restaurant (Simon-von- Utrecht-Strasse 31;
The article 'Mini guide to design in Hamburg' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.