City, Culture, Germany, Travel

City Short Break: 24H in happening Hamburg

Hamburg Speicherstadt

[by Marjolein] Hamburg not on your destination wish list? Big mistake: this harbor city in the northern part of Germany is bustling with energy. I am an instant fan since this first visit. Of the relaxed Hamburgers, the impressive buildings from the past ànd the future and much, much more.
Two days are perfect for a first impression, tag along with me and my rental bike on my Hamburg adventures.

Hamburg Sir Nikolai hotel

Where to sleep in Hamburg?

New Hotel Sir Nikolai – open since 2017 – has the perfect location between Altstadt and HafenCity. We feel welcome in our Sir Suite with a (tower) view. The hotel spot-on sophisticated decoration scheme works its magic. So does the spacious bathroom with its separate loo and rain shower. The amenities are by (Ducth) spa brand Dead Clean, based on Dead Sea salt.
Plus, a full-wall floor-length mirror (yes!). Easy no-breezy airco, huge tv screens and a cute drinks table do the rest. This is how we like our suites.
Did I mention the king size Sir Signature bed? I slept like a baby. Did not try the freestanding bathtub, all the more reason to come back. Did try the other special features though, the grey sweater-like hooded bathrobes, Illy coffee machine and retro Marshall speaker. Let the music play.

Hamburg Sir Nikolai Izakaya

At breakfast buffet we have the first food experience of Izakaya restaurant, looking forward to tonights dinner. The hotel is part of the small chain of Sir Hotels, founded in Amsterdam. Indeed, as in Sir Albert in our ‘Pijp’ district. The other two are in Berlin and on Ibiza. No two Sirs are the same – all situated in and adapted to their historic building locations.
When planning a trip, explore Sir Explore first. This new service connects you with locals on specially selected adventures. As Sir Explore states:

“Our hosts are people we trust, that we’ve met out on the town and hang out with on weekends. They have that special magic that turns a trip into an adventure and makes a stranger feel like a long-lost friend.”

Hamburg Unger Alsterhaus

Where to shop in Hamburg?

Hamburg is a true shopping Walhalla. All the big names have large shops here, situated nicely together on Neuer Wall and surroundings. Like my all time favourite minimalistic brand Jil Sander, who started out in Hamburg.
There are numerous chic shopping galleries and individual department stores: Alsterhaus, Illums Bolighus, the Kaiser Galerie and Unger I and Unger II. Especially Unger where I find Balenciaga, Aspesi, Eli Saab and Givenchy. Big bag temptation with the blue Anya Hindmarch shag shop shopper.

Hamburg Elbphilharmonie Speicherstadt hafercity

What to do in Hamburg?

Hamburg makes me feel like a kid again: I can cycle on the sidewalks! Our personal guide Tomas Kaiser shows how to do it. During a three-hour fun & educational cycling tour we see most highlights. It starts in Speicherstadt. Speicher = warehouse. In this case, old brick beauties.
Then on to HafenCity, a harbour development area by the Elbe waterfront. Like New York on acid. I love it here: a 157-ha area turning into the new ‘downtown’. A combination of living, culture, work and education, to be finished by 2030.
The amazing Elbphilharmonie building pops up on the horizon. A vision of wave-shape steel and glass, built on top of an old warehouse. We go in, take the 80 m escalator up to Plaza level and get the perfect surround view of Hamburg. The Elbphilharmonie is home to two concert halls, a hotel and apartments. Seeing is believing. This is huge.

Hamburg Alster RiverThe weather is great, so we take a two-hour Alster river boat trip departing from the ‘Binnenalster’ lake. We slowly pass greenery and gorgeous villas of the Hamburg elite. Hamburg has many beautiful faces.

Hamburg Izakay Sir Nikolai

Where to eat what in Hamburg?

  • Carls Brasserie
    Conveniently next to the Elbphilharmonie is Carls Brasserie. It has an international atmosphere with attentive German waiters and a menu offering plenty choice.
  • Izakaya Restaurant
    Time to take it easy, we opt for an in-house dinner. Izakaya Asian kitchen & bar serves delish Japanese-fusion food and the locals know it too (reservations therefore recommended). We go all the way with the 8-course menu. The DJ plays funky tunes, both food and vibes are great.
  • Genuss Speicher
    Hamburg is also the place to go for Kuchen. Guide Tomas tells us to go to Genuss Speicher, a coffee roasters warehouse with a great selection of home-made cakes. Thank you, Tomas, the cakes are amazing! Plus, nobody bats an eyelid when I order two cakes…

After a great night of sleep, we have to say goodbye to Sir Nikolai. We check out but hold on to the bicycles and do another tour by ourselves. We visit the UNESCO heritage listed Chilehaus building with its ship-inspired architecture and funky staircases. So far my first impressions of Hamburg, now I know where to go next year when I will return for the 100 years of Bauhaus celebration. Wir sehen uns!

Hamburg Sir Nikolai


My stay in Hamburg was by invitation of Hotel Sir Nikolai on behalf of Chapter Fifty, in kind cooperation with Hamburg Marketing. Chapter Fifty only accepts items or collaborations that answer positive to the question: “does it match our lifestyle?”. We will not promote anything that we would not wear, where we would not eat, sleep or see ourselves.  Authenticity is very important to us. Words, photos and opinions are our own.

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