Architecture, Design, Travel

Hamburg Heaven in Hamburger Hafen

[Ian Macready]
The entrance at night

For followers of Viewport’s gallivanting, we were recently in Hamburg for the Aircraft Interiors Expo (could there be a better show?) and managed to snaffle a room in the David Chipperfield designed Empire Riverside Hotel which opened 7 years ago. To get a better idea of the architecture of the 21 storey building head over to David Chipperfield Architects’ website, but it is an elegant glass and bronzed facade with an emphasis on strong vertical lines. It’s obvious draw to the punters is the amazing view from the top floor bar, but during the whole of my stay it chucked it down outside so all my snaps of the said view weren’t up to much. However the very neatly designed room really did take my fancy. First of all there was absolutely nothing extraneous at all: no heavy bedspread covered in a mountain of cushions that take 45 minutes to clear before you can get into bed, no doors on the wardrobe, no coffee tables to trip over in the middle of the night and no armchairs but a useful luggage rack  / perch for shoe removal. It is a very simple colour scheme of a deep red carpet, grey and white walls, dark stained wood and grey alcantara on the bench and perch: nice and relaxing. Of course much of this simplicity is borne out of the smallness of the room. But everything slots into place, everything works well and everything nicely lines up for those (architects) with a slight OCD tendency. In short, it’s my perfect hotel room.

Some other smart touches include the fact that the windows have a ventilation panel so that you can let some fresh air in, the bedside lights have straightforward switches that are easy to locate ( I hate those electronic panels that take nearly a week to understand) and there are a series of hooks along the wall opposite the sensible storage shelves and rail, that are great for your coat, shoulder bag and T-shirts. In the nicely tiled bathroom there is just a shower and sink and toilet. A small luxury (well you need to get something for your money – despite the small room size, the hotel ain’t exactly cheap) is the quirky survival kit including a condom and dental floss. One strange aspect of this hotel (and common throughout Germany I think) is the way that the bed is neither a double bed (couples beware) nor a twin bed set up (colleagues beware)  – it is two mattresses pushed together with no ability to pull them apart.

The location of the hotel is great – over looking the harbour in the St. Pauli district and for those of you so inclined 5 minutes walk from the Reeperbahn.  Importantly it is right near a local metro station, part of the efficient, clean, well-priced and extensive Hamburg public transport network (sigh….well London’s is extensive). One service aspect to watch out for as I tried to check out at midday on a Sunday, is that the queue for checkout was enormous. Had I waited (heck they had my credit card details)  it would have been at least an hour.


The exterior
The bronzed facade
A professional view of the room
The room with its ventilation panel open
The neat desk/dining table with its Alcantara covered bench
A bit of mosaic tiling in the shower room
Sensible storage options
The Riverside survival pack
One of the corridors
A bit of the cool St. Pauli neighbourhood
Dock 47 by local architects Spengler Wiescholek just down the road
The side of the Reeperbahn police station with the Empire Riverside in the background
The Fritz Schumacher (director of Hamburg city architecture) designed Reeperbahn police station