WHAT’S IT LIKE? The octagonal Schanzenturm water tower was built in 1910, but in 1956 Hamburg’s authorities stopped using it and it fell into disrepair. Movenpick bought the property in 2005 and has restored and reinvented it. Opened in June, it is now a four-star-plus hotel with 16 outward-facing bedrooms on each new floor around a central core, as well as a modern glass extension. Access to reception is via a steep 25-metre travelator (what Movenpick describes as a “pathway to reality”) and, as a nod to the property’s former function, water reflections are projected onto the walls and speakers emit dripping sounds. The ground floor of the converted cistern incorporates much of the original architecture – brick archways and candlelit stone steps – with a few modern elements such as a steel spiral staircase in an amphitheatre-like stone atrium, and a marble floor.
WHERE IS IT? In the north-west of the city, ten minutes’ drive from the centre. The hotel is easy to spot among the trees of Sternschanze park, but the entrance is on side road Sternschanze, near the metro stop of the same name. (It is three stops to Landungsbrucken on the waterfront and four to the Reeperbahn.)
ROOM FACILITIES Rooms are accessed via lifts in the central core, with guests emerging onto circular corridors on each level. In the rooms, each wall has an enlarged architectural drawing of the tower illustrating where it is located in the building – a nice touch for the frequent traveller who wakes up unable to remember where they are. Rooms are contemporary in style and decorated in subtle oatmeals, greys and browns, with a bed in the centre facing the windows (the views are fantastic). Behind the bed, set into a wooden wall, is a large glass window looking into the bathroom, with an electronic blind for privacy.
All rooms come with air conditioning, a wall-mounted plasma-screen TV and entertainment system, telephone, high-speed internet access (free in Superior rooms and above, or €15 per day in Standard rooms), minibar, workdesk, hairdryer and safe (but no iron or ironing board). My Superior bathroom was not that big, but included a yellow rubber duck on the side of the bath/shower (yes, guests can take them home) and toiletries by Bogner.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The hotel features a fine-dining restaurant with open-plan kitchen on Level R (upper ground floor), which serves Swiss, regional and international fare from 6am-11pm. There is also an outdoor terrace where you can sit in the morning after helping yourself to the generous buffet breakfast. The Cave Bar (open 1pm-1am), on Level M (in the vaults), offers a cosy atmosphere in which to enjoy a cocktail, with red candles in bowls on white-cube tables beneath low, domed ceilings. There is also a glass-roofed area which extends from the base of the tower, allowing a view upwards of the outside of the building.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There is a small business centre on the ground floor just off the lobby, while upstairs are 13 meeting rooms for up to 180 delegates (five with natural daylight from the glass-roofed areas on the first floor – the other eight are higher up in the tower on the third floor, and all but one have natural light). A 222 sqm conference room, Tessin, is located in the glass-walled extension on Level C and overlooks the park. Delegates can make use of free wifi (in all the public areas), air conditioning and up-to-date technology in all the venues.
LEISURE FACILITIES Two saunas, a relaxation room, a solarium, a wellness shower and a small gym with the latest equipment are all available free of charge.
VERDICT A unique city hotel which offers high-quality service and amenities in a peaceful and inspiring location.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 226 over 17 floors: 144 Standard (23 sqm), 64 Superior (26 sqm), eight Atelier (23 sqm), eight Junior Suites (38 sqm) and two Tower Suites (70 sqm).
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The views, especially from higher levels, are standout, and the architectural drawings on the walls remind you of what an unusual property this is. Free wifi in Superior rooms is a plus as are the rubber ducks in the bath.
PRICES Fully flexible internet rates for a midweek stay in mid-November started from €140 (Standard room).
CONTACT Movenpick Hotel, Sternschanze 6; tel +49 40 3344 110; moevenpick-hamburg.com.