25 Hours is a German boutique hotel chain with nine hotels in six cities – three in Hamburg, two in Zurich, one in Vienna, one in Berlin and two in Frankfurt). All are individually designed with funky décor and a sense of place. The Hamburg Hafen City property opened in July 2011. There will be four new 25 Hours hotels opening across Europe over the next year or two, in Munich (the Royal Bavarian will arrive this autumn), Cologne, Dusseldorf and Paris. Last year, Accorhotels announced a 30 per cent stake in the 25 Hours brand.
WHERE IS IT?
In Hafen City, the industrial quarter being revitalised around the Port of Hamburg, on the Elbe River. The hotel looks on to a huge construction site and is surrounded by waterways. It’s an interesting location and not far from the stunning new Elbphilharmonie concert hall that opened at the beginning of the year, and was designed by Herzog and de Meuron. The airport is 13km away and guests can borrow BMW Minis for free during their stay (the hotel chain and car manufacturer are partners). There are also Schindelhauer bikes for rent.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This 25 Hours hotel was designed by architects Stephen Williams Associates, bringing together a mix-mash of shipping containers, exposed metal pipework, concrete walls, floors and pillars, reception desks made out of plywood, packing crates and piles of Oriental carpets to sit on.
Due to its location near the docks, and the National Maritime Museum, the hotel has taken inspiration from seafaring and shipping. I loved it – everywhere you looked there was something to catch the eye, be it a mural on the wall, neon lighting in the corridor leading to the underground car park, bikes in the windows or a rope ladder in the bedroom.
Stephen Williams Associates says: “Furniture chosen by Connie Kotte has the patina of years, which makes it seem as this industrial space has been there for ever.
The import-export warehouse has become the living room in the harbour city but here people are the commodities coming in and going, as it would seem with the natural elements of wind and tide.”
Entry-level M Cabins are 21-25 sqm and have queen-size beds, air conditioning, free wifi, Bluetooth speakers, walk-in showers, large bottles of 100 per cent natural shampoo and soap that say “Stop the water while using me!”, and large wooden “travel trunks” with a logbook inscribed with messages from other guests, plus a fold-out workdesk and charging points for personal devices.
M Cabin + rooms are the same side but have views of the port or the central courtyard. For families or friends there are the Bunk Bed Cabins (probably not suitable for a business person), while I Cabins are larger, at 31-35 sqm and have king-soze beds and a living area with a couch.
The biggest rooms are the 40 sqm XL Cabins, which have Nespresso machines, a tea station and views of the cruise terminal. I was pleased to find the windows could be opened for fresh air.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The ground-floor Heimat Kitchen and Bar serves food and drink throughout the day. I had a breakfast meeting here one morning and noticed a real mix of people – men in suits, couples and hipster entrepreneur types.
There is a buffet where guests can help themselves to coffee, tea, juice, kombucha (this cold fermented tea is very popular in Hamburg), pastries, cheese, cold cuts, fruit, quark and cereal. Breakfast (€21) is served 6.30am-10.30am weekdays and 7am-12pm weekends.
I returned in the evening for a locally distilled Gin Sul and Thomas Henry tonic in the sun outside on the street-level terrace, followed by dinner in the restaurant. The menus are in both German and English, which is helpful, and dishes include the likes of homemade fish sticks, wiener schnitzel, roast beef with spaetzle and half a grilled chicken with potato and cucumber salad (€14-€24).
I ordered a Caesar salad to start, which was enormous, followed by fish and chips, which came in a newsprint poke. Service was a little slow but staff were very friendly. Lunch, dinner and snacks are available from midday to 11pm.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The five Freiraum function spaces are far more interesting and quirky than you will find in most hotels, particularly the 25 sqm boardroom housed in an orange shipping container in the lobby. (It has doors that can be closed for privacy.)
Meanwhile, the 300 sqm Gallery can be hired for cocktail parties of 200 people. All with natural daylight, Freiraum 1, 2 and 3 can be used for meetings of between ten and 48 delegates in each. There is free wifi throughout the hotel and catering is provided by the Heimat Kitchen and Bar.
Outside the lifts is the Radio Room, which has a communal table with desktop Mac computers on it and a booth where you can play vintage Atari computer games (this was very popular). There are also three private telephone booths made out of salt bleached driftwood, and a printer.
Although I wasn’t at the hotel for an event, I can vouch for the fact that the colourful, interesting environment inspired me to work. It was a place I wanted to spend time in. It was fun, comfortable and well equipped.
Hafen City is a good place to go jogging and guests will find a selection of handy amenities in the lobby. There isn’t a gym on-site as such, but there is a punch bag and sit-up chairs in the sixth-floor rooftop Hafen sauna, partially open to the elements. Built in a shipping container, it offers amazing views of the harbour, and even has outdoor showers.
On the first floor mezzanine is an open-plan Club lounge where you can sit and work or play board games and table football. There is also a table where you can help yourself to complimentary herbal tea.
Even better is the glass-walled Vinyl room where you can play records.
Downstairs is concept store the Mare Kiosk, which sells all manner of souvenirs, books, homeware, confectionary, cards and merchandise. There’s also a pop-up bike shop called Two Wheels Good.
The 25 Hours Hotel Hamburg Hafen City is uber cool. If you are used to staying in predictable chain hotels, give it a go – you may be pleasantly surprised. I missed having a proper gym but loved the feeling of staying in a place I actually wanted to spend time in. It had a lively, homely feel about it.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 170 rooms across five categories – M Cabin, M Cabin+, Bunk Bed Cabin, I Cabin and XL Cabin.
HIGHLIGHTS The interior design, Vinyl Record room, Hafen City location and quirky meeting space.
PRICE Internet rates for an M Cabin in June started from €187.
CONTACT 25 Hours Hotel Hamburg Hafen City, Ueberseeallee 5, Hamburg; tel +49 4025 7777 255; 25hours-hotels.com