The Side hotel, which opened 2001, is a hip boutique hotel that is a member of the Design Hotels collection (now part of Starwood).
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The modern, 11-storey hotel has it entrance on a non-descript side street, near office and apartment blocks. The lobby makes for a dramatic welcome, though, with a soaring triangular-shaped atrium criss-crossed in free-hanging neon bars from theatre designer Robert Wilson. Check-in was conducted quickly, with warmth, and I showed myself to the room. Contemporary interiors are by Milanese designer Matteo Thun.
WHERE IS IT?
In Hamburg’s fairly uninteresting Neustadt district, to the north of St Pauli and the Altstadt (Old Town). The airport is roughly 30 minutes’ drive away and the nearest metro station (Gansemarkt) is just around the corner. It’s worth noting that Uber doesn’t operate in Hamburg so it’s probably worth downloading the MyTaxi app, which works in much the same way.
Entry-level Superior rooms are 28 sqm, while suites range from 60 sqm to 90 sqm. All have Loewe flatscreen TVs, free wifi, minibars, safes, robes and slippers, while 31-34 sqm Business rooms an above also come with coffee machines (either Nespresso or Illy).
Executive rooms and above also come with kitchenettes, and separate baths and walk-in showers. All guests are provided with small bottles of Ren toiletries, which I really like as they use natural ingredients.
I was staying in a Business room, which had a decent workdesk and a comfortable bed (if firm, and with two single duvets). The windows didn’t open and it was quite stuffy at night, even though there was air conditioning, so the hotel brought up an electric fan, which helped but was noisy.
The bathroom, behind a sliding frosted glass door, was stylish but had a glass sink which meant that as soon as you brushed your teeth or washed your hands with soap, it was coated in a white residue. Overall I had a comfortable stay though and felt it was a good proposition for business people in town for a couple of days.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The Meatery restaurant is on the ground floor, opposite the lifts. It is marked by a glass-walled room filled with huge hunks of aged beef hanging inside – a dream come true for carnivores but rather off-putting for a vegetarian like me. Lunch and dinner are available daily – the menu, unsurprisingly, specialises in burgers, steak and tartare.
A generous international breakfast buffet is served daily from 6.30am to 11am Monday to Friday, and 7am to 2pm at weekends. It costs €28 per person, which is good value if you have a big appetite, but some guests just want a small bowl of granola and coffee, which is not possible. (I overheard one guest getting tetchy about this.)
In the evening, expect to pay €65 for a T-bone or €48 for a rib-eye. The kitchen can also do a beetroot and quinoa veggie burger for those who don’t eat meat.
The adjacent bar, which also has lime green furniture, serves a variety of cocktails and beer including non-alcoholic options. Champagne served is Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial, and Ruinart Brut/Blanc de Blanc/Rose.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There are six conference and event spaces, the standout one being the 120 sqm, eighth-floor Sky Lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows and its 280 sqm L-shaped terrace with views across the city. (I sat out here one day with my laptop and did some work.) It can be used for product launches, barbecues, fashion shows and dinners.
On this mezzanine level is also a smart, light-filled Executive boardroom that can seat up to 15 people. The largest venue is Conference Room XL, which has a capacity of 300-people theatre-style. Conference packages cost €75 per person, per day.
Down on the lower level of the hotel is a 450 sqm spa, gym and swimming pool, although there weren’t any staff around when I visited, which was a little frustrating as there was no more water left in the gym and no one to ask for it.
It was a nice bright space for working out in, with orange and red walls and views through to the pool. Around the pool are banquettes and loungers, and beyond a steam room and sauna. The pool also has a built-in whirlpool bath.
VERDICT A modern, design-led hotel that is well-suited to business travellers – having a good steak restaurant on-site will be a plus for many as it’s a good place to meet clients. The event space is great too.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 178 rooms and suites across seven categories – Superior, Business, Executive, Suite S, Suite M, Suite XL and Suite XXL.
HIGHLIGHTS The swimming pool, outdoor terrace and Illy/Nespresso coffee machines in each room.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in July started from €148 for a Superior room.
CONTACT Side hotel, Drehbahn 49, Hamburg; tel +49 4030 9990; designhotels.com