The Westin Hamburg is housed in the city’s new Elbphilharmonie – the much-anticipated classical music performance space which opened this November to considerable fanfare, with over 26,000 visitors in its first weekend. Sat atop a former spice warehouse, the €860m conversion is a spectacle of rippling, convex glass panes designed to evoke the image of a ship’s sails, flapping above a redbrick hull below. Conceived by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron, of the new Tate Modern and Beijing Olympic stadium, the building contains luxury apartments, two state-of-the-art concert halls, and the 205-room Westin Hamburg.
What's it like?
A large LED wall of swirling, monochrome graphics signals the hotel’s street entrance, which is adjacent to that of the concert hall. This leads to one of the Elbphilharmonie’s main attractions – Europe’s longest curved escalator, an 82m stretch of gleaming walls and white light that carries visitors through the structure’s brick base to a semi-covered entrance foyer. Here, a second entrance to the hotel leads into the lobby.
Designed with Hamburg’s maritime tradition in mind, the lobby is a clean, whitewashed space decorated with concave columns and minimalist statues that resemble the funnels of an ocean liner. Behind the reception desks, another LED screen shows a black and white photograph of an old freighter billowing black smoke. In the evenings, lights in the lobby are dimmed low, and blue spotlights illuminate the funnels dramatically in such a way that it looks like it’s night on a ship’s deck. Rooms can be accessed via two sets of lifts near the lobby – one around the corner from the lifts to the street entrance, and the other just past reception.
Where is it?
The hotel faces out onto the docklands district of Hafencity – an “urban development project” which plans to expand the city area by 40 per cent with homes, offices, green space and leisure facilities when completed in 2025. It also looks out over the vibrant St Pauli entertainment district to the north and is a short drive from the German headquarters of Unilever, Adobe, Kuhne and Nagel and China Shipping.
The 205 rooms, which include 39 suites (the highest number of any hotel in Hamburg), are spread over 21 floors, all within the glass conversion. There are three room categories ranging from the 35 sqm Classic to the 31 sqm Deluxe City Panorama and the 30-35 sqm Premium Panorama, plus five types of suite. Classic rooms, though at times larger than the Deluxe City and Premium Panorama, have interior-facing views of the architecture, while the others look out onto the city and waterfront.
I stayed on the 16th floor in a Deluxe City Panorama room, the windows of which are floor-to-ceiling, convex, and frosted around the edges to limit the amount of sunlight that enters the room. An oval, porthole window is fitted in the space where the window curves inwards – so inconspicuous that it had to be pointed out to me, but a nice detail that ties into the hotel’s naval theme.
The rooms’ décor is inspired by “natural elements such as water, wood and wind”, with crisp white linens, textured wallpaper and a cream leather chaise longue in the corner by the window. There is a lot of storage in the wardrobe – four large compartments, hanging space, which contains a bathrobe and slippers, and a table for luggage behind the wardrobe’s sliding door.
A 42-inch Samsung TV hangs on the far wall opposite the bed, under which there is a good-sized desk. Next to this in the wardrobe unit, there is a kettle, tea, coffee and two mugs. There is also a complimentary glass bottle of water, though this required a bottle opener – I didn’t have one, and I couldn’t see one provided.
The bathroom has a large window that opens out onto the bedroom, but there is also a blind that can be lowered on the outer wall should you want more privacy. There is also a walk-in rain shower and a separate WC, the door to which has a hinge that pivots so it can be used for both the toilet and the whole bathroom.
Business and meeting facilities
There are eight meeting rooms ranging in size from 23 sqm to 469 sqm, housed below in the warehouse. These can be reached by lift or down a spiral staircase from the lobby. Because it’s a listed building, the meeting rooms have retained their original, box-like windows which means they don’t allow a lot of natural light, but the rooms’ artificial lighting is atmospheric and the décor sleek, boasting sea-themed details such as reef-like reliefs on the wall, a clean, grey and white colour scheme and undulating light fixtures on the ceiling.
Restaurants and bars
The Saffron is the hotel’s main restaurant and where a German-inspired breakfast is served every morning. I had a fresh omelette with a selection of rye breads and deli meats. There was also a huge variety of cheese, pastries and fruit pots on offer. After breakfast, the restaurant’s menu offers dishes inspired by Hamburg’s spice trade – although I didn’t get the chance to try any, these include cinnamon and bordeaux simmered shoulder of lamb, saffron risotto and salmon poached in curry oil.
I did have lunch at the Bridge Bar, an elegant space that wraps around the upper corner of the hotel’s lobby, offering far-reaching views across the Elbe. Sharing dishes are popular on the menu, and I opted for the Fauna Marin selection which included salmon with spinach salad and mustard dressing, local Labskaus salad with herring tartar and codfish meatballs.
Spread across 1,300 sqm, the Elb spa includes a gym, sauna, steam room, six treatment rooms and a lounge area, plus a 20-metre indoor pool. For members of Starwood’s SPG club, the Westin Club on the 19th floor serves breakfast and can hold up to 40 people, offering a more private area to relax with snacks and drinks.
The appeal of the new concert hall is bound to make this one of Hamburg’s most popular business hotels – its sophisticated décor and first-rate facilities will ensure it stays that way.
Internet rates for a midweek stay in a Deluxe City Panorama room in mid-December start from €260 including taxes and surcharges.
Platz der Deutschen Einheit 2, Hamburg, 20457, Germany; westinhamburg.com