The Fontenay opened in 2018 after an investment of €100 million as a new luxury landmark in Hamburg. The hotel was named after John Fontenay, a shipping magnate who purchased the land in the 19th century.
Created to be a reflection of modern Hamburg, it features free-flowing sculptural architecture, contemporary interiors and luxury living spaces. The property is a a member of the luxury hotel alliance The Leading Hotels of the World. It has a sister property in Mallorca – the Castell Son Claret.
Where is it?
Perched on the banks of Lake Alster. The main entrance is tucked down a quiet street, with the Dammtor railway station a roughly 10-minute walk away. The hotel is located near some of Hamburg’s most sophisticated neighbourhoods, museums, and shopping areas.
What’s it like?
Designed by Jan Stormer, a Hamburg-born architect, the property has been inspired by the surrounding environment. It’s a unique structure, with curved walls featuring plenty of glass to reflect the organic concept and allow the outside to filter in. Other striking architectural details include the the 27-metre atrium, plus a glass-enclosed courtyard.
A grand circular driveway, lined with Porsches and BMWs, makes for an impressive entrance. Inside, the aesthetic is extremely elegant. The large and airy lobby area immediately announces the hotel’s luxury credentials, with a number of private check-in desks featuring two seats at each, so guests can be checked in comfortably, plus a separate concierge desk.
The hotel features 130 rooms and suites. The 113 guest rooms start from the Fontenay Classic (28 sqm) with the Fontenay Deluxe, Fontenay Premier and Fontenay Deluxe Alster offering a more generous 43 sqm of space, with more amenities and a range of views. Meanwhile the 17 suites come in eight categories, the most luxurious being the 200 sqm Fontenay Suite on the fifth floor.
I stayed in a spacious Fontenay Deluxe room (Room 319) that was immaculately dressed in creams and neutral tones, with light wood fixtures and fine parquet flooring. The large space (with a 2.85 metre ceiling) was easily able to accommodate a separate lounge area, with sofa, table and chairs, as well as a seven foot bed and a work desk. Chic designer furniture, rugs, and lots of lamps create the feeling of an upmarket yet welcoming European home. Floor-to-ceiling curtains and blinds were operated via the wall panel. There was also contemporary artwork by Antonio Maro adorning one of the walls.
The bed was extremely comfortable, and its extra large size somehow made it feel more cosy. A velvet sage green headboard, set against a subtle diamond-shaped beige wallpaper, added a sophisticated pop of colour to the otherwise neutral space. Bedside tables flanked either side of the bed, with lamps, reading lights, phones, notepad and power sockets with USB outlets. There were master control panels that controlled the lights, blinds, air conditioning and TV. I had an excellent sleep thanks to the comfortable bed and quiet location, the peace was broken only by the honking of geese on the nearby lake – a welcome sound in a central city location.
A spacious wooden work desk positioned by the window with lake views provided an excellent space to work, with a notepad and pen, phone, concealed outlets for European plug sockets, USB and ethernet cables, plus a desk lamp. A 43-inch HDMI LED flat screen TV was positioned slightly awkwardly just above the desk, and off centre from the bed.
From the entrance corridor, a walk-in wardrobe is to the right, with plenty of space to hang clothes, store luggage, and find amenities such as the in-room safe and cushions for furniture on the outside terrace. A full length mirror was also inside. There was no iron or ironing board, but these were promptly delivered upon phoning reception.
On the left, sliding doors led the way into a large bathroom decked out with light natural stone and heated floors. The large washroom featured a sink area, heated towel rack and two fluffy robes and slippers, plus a separate vanity table. The main sink had a large mirror and separate magnifying mirror, plus a hairdryer. Next to the sink was a button to play relaxing lounge music – a nice accompaniment to get ready in the morning.
In separate cubicles were the toilet and shower. The toilet was very high-tech, with Japanese-style controls. The large shower, featuring both rain and handheld options, came with La Biosthetique shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
The minibar, containing a selection of soft drinks, chocolate bars and juice, was neatly concealed in a light wood cabinet, along with a selection of other amenities such as a Nespresso machine, kettle with tea and coffee, and glassware.
Food and drink
Located on the top floor is the fine-dining Lakeside restaurant, with a lovely outdoor terrace offering views over the city Skyline and the city’s Elbphilharmonie. I enjoyed a spectacular wine-paired menu with a selection of courses that were as beautifully presented as they were impeccable to taste. Head chef Julian Stowasser is one to watch.
The elegant dining room had ambient lighting and well-spaced tables. It was completely full, even on a Tuesday evening, with a sophisticated, older crowd. The service was excellent, to the point it almost looked choreographed, with swift, attentive staff who were extremely knowledgeable about all the dishes presented and the provenance of each wine they served. The wine list was well curated, with vintages carefully selected from a range of small independent vineyards. I couldn’t pick a highlight and wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, but favourites included a delicate hamachi and gloriously tasty sea bass dish.
The bright and airy Parkview Restaurant on the ground floor offers all-day dining, with subtle North German-inspired cuisine, and an al fresco terrace for the summer months. The Fontenay Bar on the sixth floor offers almost 360-degree panoramic views of the city skyline, lake and residential districts. Here you can expect innovative mixology from smartly-dressed bartenders in a chic setting. Open from 3pm till 12am (or 1am on Friday and Saturday). Live music is performed Thursday-Sunday from 6pm. There is also a library with a day bar and an indoor smoker’s room.
The Fontenay Spa truly adds to the hotel’s city resort feel, with a range of treatments including facials, massages and body treatments starting from around €150 per hour. In addition, guests can enjoy the Finnish sauna, quarzit steam bath and a 20 metre indoor/outdoor pool with sun terrace.
The wellness area also has various relaxation zones, several adventure showers and an ice fountain. There is also a fitness centre with cardio and weight training equipment and views over the Rotherbaum district. Personal training can be arranged, or guests can try the 7.5 kilometre jogging route around Alster Lake.
Meetings and events
The hotel has a range of four light-filled function rooms, ranging from 48 sqm to 220 sqm, plus a 200 sqm round foyer with access to a garden patio.
This stunning lakeside hotel expertly captures modern luxury – the focus is not on ostentation, but on quality of life, privacy and tranquility. A highly recommended gem in Hamburg with exceptional service.
Best for: A luxurious hideaway in nature with easy access to the city
Don’t miss: A wine-paired dining experience at Lakeside
Price: Rates for a Deluxe double room start from €355 per night excluding breakfast.
Contact: Fontenay 10, 20354, Hamburg; +49 (0)40 605 6 605-0; thefontenay.com