An October 2005 trip
to Hamburg by nickyjj
Quote: Germany's second-largest city, Hamburg offers more canals and waterways than Venice, as well as historic sights, tourist attarctions, shopping, and attractions--great for a short city break!
Hamburg is a great cosmopolitan city that will appeal to old and young alike. It’s perfect for couples who enjoy fine dining and shopping, as well as perfect for families with its fairs and attractions.
Getting there from the UK:
Flights to Hamburg are relatively frequent. If you live in the north of England like me, then direct flights are available from Manchester to Hamburg with Lufthansa and British Midland at a cost of approx £150. Flights are also available from Birmingham, and I know that there are many direct flights each day from London with British Airways and Lufthansa (the national German airline).
In November 2004, Air Berlin launched daily services between Manchester and Hamburg for only £14 one-way. Another great way is to sail between the UK and Hamburg on an overnight cruise and arrive along the River Elbe in Hamburg to true pomp and circumstances, including marching bands and confetti!
A taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost approximately 20€, and the journey takes about 20 minutes (30 during rush hour).
Where to shop??
Hamburg offers some great shops with its many department stores, including the famous chains Karstadt, Kauhfof (Monchebergstrasse), and Alsterhaus, which is currently undergoing major renovations. If you go to Alster (Jungfernstieg), make sure you try the new cafe on the fifth level, and try and great a table overlooking the Alster.
Don't forget to try the famous Hansa Viertel arcade, which offers delightful individual shops as well as dining and a supermarket.
Most shops in Hamburg open between 9 and 10am and stay open until 8pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday). Most shops now open until 4pm or 8pm on Saturdays following a relaxation in trading laws.
Rathaus (town hall)
Jungferstieg (have a walk and shop!)
Wedel outdoor pool
Take a walk around the inner Alster Lake. If it is sunny, enjoy an ice cream from a vendor, and if not, try to get a window table at the Alstertor Cafe.
Go to the village of Blankenese; this is a beautiful, small town/village that overlooks the river.
Take a tour around the Rathaus (town hall). These operate daily and are free of charge, and tours are conducted in English. Also take time to explore the many exhibitions and fun fairs that are held outside the Rathaus.
Go to the harbour, take a cruise ship around the port, and see the fascinating workings of this busy port.
Take in a show: Mamma Mia and Disney's The Lion King are current favourites.
The Hamburg DOM is a very famous annual fun fair (see local centers for details).
Open-air swimming? Try the pool at Wedel (end of the green S-Bahn line).
The SUA-Bahn trains are then the easiest and cheapest way to travel around the city. The green S-Bahn(schnell=fast) is for the most frequent routes, and the U and A go further afield. A 1-day ticket costs as little as 5€. Ticket inspections are rare, but they do happen and carry harsh penalties, so ALWAYS buy a ticket. The system is easy to use, like most underground networks in Europe, and the lines are coloured and you board using the end station as your reference. Trains are clean, very efficient, well used, and safe after dark, but obey the usual precautions of big cities!
Hotel | "Renaissance"
Book via the Marriott website, and they guarantee that you will get their cheapest rates (the best rate is usually from 110 euros per night) for a twin/double room.
The hotel is very well located in a quiet area of the city and is attached to the internationally renowned shopping arcade Hanse Viertel. Transfer time is 20 minutes from the airport, and you are within 5/10 minutes' walk of ALL the city centre attractions, including Jungfernstieg, MoncheberStrasse, Rathaus, etc.
The rooms at the Renaissance Hotel are decorated in rich red and cream colours, and all rooms feature either one king or two double beds. Rooms are on five floors. Several suites are also available. If you want more space, then book a junior suite, which offers a separate seating area (the rooms are spacious, however). The rooms also feature international TV, including pay-for films in German and English, minibar, large wardrobe and storage areas, working desk with light, and a comfy chair. The bathrooms are bright, clean, and modern and feature a bath with overhead shower and good toiletries, as well as a hair dryer. The rooms are spacious and offer air-conditioning, which is adequate--expect it when the temperature boils in Hamburg!
The hotel offers Restaurant Esprit, which features a good range of local and international dishes (goose is their specialty), although you can find more authentic, better and cheaper restaurants nearby! The Hotel Esprit bar serves a good range of snacks that offer good value for money with very attentive staff. The Marriott hotel also offers a lively bar with live music that can be more fun than the reserved Renaissance if there are a group of you. Breakfast may be included in your room rate and if not you can purchase breakfast for 17Euro and this includes a very wide selection of breads, cheeses, hams, cooked items (cooked just for you by your own chef), drinks including sparkling wine, and much more! Room service breakfast is also a great option, and the early-bird special offering pastries, bread, and coffee for under 7 euros is a great value!
The hotel also offers secretarial services and has good conferencing facilities. There is an adequate gym on the fifth floor, and guests can also use the pool facilities at the nearby sister hotel; Marriott.
The staff are extremely polite, courteous, and efficient and all speak very good English. The concierge are able to advise on local attractions, as well as booking tickets, taxis, and theatre for you. Anything you need, just ask! The lobby is large and spacious and offers comfortable relaxation space, including complimentary coffee and pastries in the morning, and you can also take afternoon tea and sample specialty cakes in the afternoons before moving to the hotel bar for cocktail hour!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 9, 2005
Renaissance Hamburg Hotel
Hotel | "Marriott"
Arriving at the hotel:
As you enter the hotel, the lobby is sumptuous and well-kept, and there are always plenty of bellhops to help with your bags. Check-in is always smooth and painless, and there is a good selection of local interest attraction leaflets and maps at the concierge station. Check-in is from 3pm, and check-out is by 12pm (I have often arrived early and asked to check out late, and the hotel has always been very accommodating where possible).
The hotel rooms:
The hotel rooms are large and spacious and have recently been upgraded to the Marriott promise of the ‘hotel room that works’ indicating that the hotel rooms are designed to meet both the needs of the business and leisure traveller. All rooms feature two double or one king sized bed, comfortable resting chair and occasional table as well as work desk which includes light and internet access (payable locally). The bathrooms are large and specious with a good selection of fluffy towels, amenity kits and hair dryer. The bathrooms also feature a heat lamp (although as hotels are always so warm I can’t imagine when you would ever need to use it!). One advantage (for me) me over the Renaissance is that the rooms here feature an in room safe
Eating and dining:
The hotel offers a small lounge area in reception which can be used to take tea as well as afternoon cakes in a relaxed setting and is often used by business guests for more informal meetings. The hotel bar is always lovely in the evenings often with live music and serves a wide range of local beers and even a few cocktails are on offer, a la Tom Cruise. The bar also offers a good range of snack food and the restaurant serves a range of food that is more American based (themed to the international traveller me thinks) but is nevertheless good fare for a hotel of this size and reasonably priced. If the weather is nice, then head outside to one of the tables on ABC Strasse, which affords a great people-watching position to watch the world.
The hotel has a smallish (but perfectly acceptable) pool, as well as a good gym featuring all the usual exercise machines and you can also pay for massages, as well as visiting the hairdressers!
Book using the Marriott website (www.marriott.com), and then you are guaranteed the cheapest room rate, and you can then also register for Marriott Reward points, which can be collected and used for free-night stays at Marriott hotels worldwide, or they can be converted into a number of other collector schemes (e.g. frequent-flyer schemes).
Abc Strasse 52
+49 40 35050
Restaurant | "Blockhouse"
The food is mainly Aberdeen Angus steak served with baked potato with sour cream as well as garlic bread and an inclusive salad to start. The range of steak is wide and includes all your favourites such as filet, ribeye, etc. There’s also a good range of light fare, including salads, fish courses, and burgers. They also offer a good range of business lunches, and the best thing is that you just want to eat a baked potato with garlic bread or a small salad then you can do without the pressure of ordering a full meal. Lots of people do just order snack food that cost less than 5Euros for a soft drink, potato and salad. The average price of a steak meal (filet) is around 16Euros which includes salad, garlic bread and jacket potato which is excellent value as you don’t really need dessert! If you do, the restaurant offers a great range of local desserts such as the famed rote grutze (berries) and apple strudel.
The range of drinks is also very good and reasonably priced, with local beers, German wines, as well as some more internationally renowned and well-known names.
My favourite meals: the fresh salmon (frischer lachs) and the filet steak (filet mignon) are always wonderful.
The atmosphere is always lively in the Blockhouse and the setting is rustic German with comfortable tables that accommodate a wide ranging number of people from singles who can sit at the bar and talk to other diners as well as the bar man to larger group tables that will easily accommodate 8 or 9 people. The restaurant is busiest between 12noon and 2pm and from 6 until 9pm when people finish work and the shops close but the service is always fast and if you do have to queue for a table then a complimentary glass of orange juice or wine is usually served which keeps people smiling!
If you don’t speak German don’t worry as they have English menus as well as child friendly menus and activities to keep the kids happy! Guten apetit!
In der City:
Hamburg, Germany 20354
+49 40 346005
After several years of becoming a little shabby around the edges, Alsterhaus is currently (May 2005) nearing the completion of a long renovation process that will lead to its reaffirmed as Hamburg’s premier department store. The new parts of the store that have been completed are now light, airy, and sophisticated, with cream tiles and dark wood. The new departments feature enhanced ranges of good, with the emphasis being Harrods rather than Primark (or maybe that should be Saks rather than Wal-Mart!) Although the store does now feature ‘nicer’ makes, there are still lots of great value items and good discounts year-round on certain products.
What’s can you buy?
As Alsterhaus is a department store, it sells most things that you would expect, including men’s, women’s, and children’s fashions; books; toys; electrical goods; shoes; sportswear; watches; jewellery; and perfumes. And there is a food hall and much more! As the store is being refurbished, here are the best bits of the new store!
The lower ground floor now houses the confectionary department with an alarmingly big selection of sweets and chocolates, so bring your sweet tooth! If you like stationary, then is the place to shop, with a fantastic selection ranging from budget stationary to designer goods! This is also a great place to pick up a typical German souvenir, including Asbach (liquor) chocolate and Mozart chocolates.
On the ground floor you will find an excellent perfumery section featuring all of your favourite fragrances and makeup, including Estee Lauder, Dior, Mac, and Nars. You will also find an excellent leather goods section specialising in bags and purses.
The top floor of Alsterhaus now houses a huge self-service café/restaurant that features the best local, regional, and international dishes with wonderful views over the Alster. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the food is fresh, cheap, and served in modern surroundings. The top floor also features a wine-and-cheese bar that specialises in champagne, and the alcohol section features a great array of international wines, including great special offers. Also check out the specialty cheeses and hams at the food counter, as well as the fantastic glass and crockery section (just remember your luggage allowance for flying home, although the store is very helpful about shipping!).
Alsterhaus is open from 9:30am until 8pm Monday to Saturday.
An interesting fact is that Diana, Princess of Wales, visited Alsterhaus in the 1980s whilst on an official visit to Germany.
There’s also a theatre bookings’ service where you can book tickets to Hamburg’s best musical events, including the currently popular The Lion King and Mama Mia!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 16, 2005
Hamburg, Germany 20354
+49 40 359010
Attraction | "So many shops in Hamburg..."
Hamburg offers some great shops with many department stores, including the famous chains Karstadt and Kauhfof (MoncheberStrasse) and Alsterhaus, which is currently undergoing major renovations. If you go to Alster (Jungfernstieg), make sure you try the new cafe on the 5th level and try and great a table over looking the Alster.
Hamburg also offers many famous high street names that you will know and love:
H&M, Zara, Benneton, Sisley, C&A, but as the euro rate is not that good at the moment against the pound, you won’t make any great savings on international designers.
The few designer shops attract the beautiful people but are always worth having a look around:
Gucci, Timberland, Maxmara, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hugo Boss, Jaegar and many more!
Don't forget to try the famous Hansa Viertel arcade, which offers delightful individual shops, as well as dining and a supermarket. There are some great cafes and bars here, and try lunch at Movenpicks and have a sandwich and coffee! Also check out Ednis, Zwei, Drei, for some great cheap souvenirs and items for the home.
Shopping in Hamburg is fantastic and can be either as cheap or expensive as you make it. There are lots of bargains and also some great designer makes! Sales are typically held in summer, and after Christmas, although the big stores always have discount areas, and the lower ground floor of Karstadt always has great bargains on offer! There are not too many shops apart from department stores, and international retailers take Visa, so cash is a good idea or EC card!
Most shops in Hamburg open between 9 and 10am and stay open until 8pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday). Most shops now open until 4pm or 8pm on Saturdays following a relaxation in trading laws.
NO shops (except at airports and stations) open on Sundays, so don't leave all of your shopping until then!
Top tips for shopping:
Terminal 4 at the airport has a great selection on shops, including Hugo Boss and Chemist Perfumery in their shopping concourse.
For men’s clothing, check out Anson on MoncheberStrasse.
For clothes for all of the family, try Peek and Cloppenberg on MoncheberStrasse, where customer services is exceptional, as is the range and choice of clothes ranging from the cheap to the Platinum brigade!
For food, check out the Alsterhaus food market on the top floor.
For DVDs and music, visit the top floor of Saturn!
For sportswear, check out the 5th floor Karstadt sports shops at the top of MoncheberStrass.
Fish is a popular dish to eat here, but maybe not to buy and take home, but they have lots of specialty chocolate, and the local specialty is marzipan chocolate.
Also check out the great glass and crockery selections in the shops.
P.S. Make sure to leave room in you suitcase!
Gut reise! (Happy travelling!)
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 19, 2005
Attraction | "Hanseviertel shopping arcade"
The Hanse Viertel is located off the main Jungfernstieg shopping street on Blecihen Hof. If you are travelling by car, there is a car park directly behind the Hanse Viertel
The Hanseviertel offers a great choice of specialty shops that are great to browse around and also find that more unusual gift! There are some chain stores including Gortz shoes and Lacoste as well as the great gift shop Eins, Zwei, Drei (One, Two, Three), where you are bound to find the most unusak of gifts! There’s also a number of children's clothing stores, a huge tobacconist, a perfumery, and so on!
The arcade also features special art exhibitions and so on from time to time, which are great for browsing and window shopping on weekends and after dinner--a great German pastime!
The Hanseviertel also offers a well-stocked Spar supermarket, as well as film processing shop and dry cleaners and ATM machine. The arcade shops are open from approximately 10am until 8pm and are closed on weekends, but walking through the arcade and window shopping is possible until well after midnight. You can gain entry to the Renaissance Hotel from the arcade if you are staying at the hotel.
Eating and drinking
As well as retail therapy, the Hanseviertel offers a good selection of places to eat and drink. The main restaurant is the Swiss chain Movenpick which is located on the lower ground floor and offers open style eating in its myriad of dining areas, all of which are more formal and offer good meals at reasonable prices. Firm Germany favourites here are the Sunday brunch and afternoon cakes, as well as the small wine cellar serving traditional German foods.
Also, check out the wine/fish/cheese bars in the arcade, which quite often feature entrainment such as live dancing and bands, all free, and anyone can join in! There’s also a small bakery kiosk and a ‘quick stop’ Movenpick café, both perfect for great sandwiches, light lunches, and famous German cakes.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 9, 2005
Hanse Viertel Indoor Shopping Arcade
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2006
Hamburg, Germany 20095
49 40 428 31 2009
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 16, 2006
Kehrwieder 2, Block D
Hamburg, Germany 20457
+49 40 36005500
Booking is via the Air Berlin website, which is available in several European languages and is very straightforward. You select the dates and places to travel and the website then displays prices for one week before and one week after you travel, which is useful if you wish to chose the cheapest travel date.
I have used the website on several occasions, and it is easy to use and navigate and does not seem to be ‘offline’ at all, which is good! When making your booking, you can pay by credit/debit card, and if you book far enough in advance, only a deposit is taken, with the balance being paid several weeks before you travel.
Unlike some other low-cost airlines, you don’t just turn up at the airplane and run aboard to find seats; here you can reserve them for 8 euros per person per journey, which is a really good idea, and you get a map of the plane when selecting seats so that you know exactly where you are sitting. Again, this is an easy function on the AB website, following the on-screen directions.
I flew with Air Berlin between Manchester and Hamburg just before Christmas on a route that used to be operated only by Lufthansa (another German airline). The cost of my flight in total was just under £70, although if I had booked earlier, I would have no doubt gotten the flight cheaper!
The flight left from Terminal One at Manchester airport and check-in was very busy, with two flights departing at more or less the same time, but there were plenty of check-in staff, so check-in didn’t take too long.
The return flight was perfectly on time, although the outbound flight was a little delayed due to late arrival of the incoming aircraft. We were soon on board, however, and the plane was only on the ground for 30 minutes, so the staff did a very fast turn-around!
Going out the plane was a Fokker 100 with very comfortable leather seats and plenty of leg room. (The toilets were tiny though!!) Coming back the plane was a Boeing 737, which did not have as much leg room but was comfortable and modern. There was also in flight entertainment on the return flight with television and head phones could be purchased for 2.5 euros. I would recommend sitting nearer to the front as this speeds up getting off the plane when you land and the aisle seats allow you to stretch your legs. You can reserve extra leg room seats at check-in.
The in flight magazine is produced only in German, so if you like to read on the plane, make sure that you take a book or magazine with you!!
On board food:
Like most European airlines these days a snack was served on board that was a sandwich on both journeys and was of a high standard. Soft drinks and tea and coffee are included in the price, but if you wish to purchase an alcoholic drink then these must be paid for on board. There is a wide selection of beer and wine, as well as additional snack foods such as crisps and chocolate, and the prices were very reasonable with a small bottle of wine costing 3 euros (all prices were in euros on board).
Other facts and figures:
You can have one suitcase/bag which can weigh up to 20kg and one piece of carry on luggage that can weigh up to 6kg.
The only downside to flying Air Berlin for people who fly to Hamburg is that in Hamburg you use the slightly old and dilapidated Terminal One rather than the brand new terminal 4 which is utilised by Lufthansa, but when you are paying so much less it doesn’t make that much difference, and you walk to Terminal one if you so wish!
Finding out more:
Check out the Air Berlin website at www.airberlin.com, and this gives you up to date availability, special offers, and more!
Air Berlin fly to and from a variety of European cities including most major German cities including Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg.
Lufthansa also fly direct between Manchester and Hamburg although the flights are more expensive they do have an early morning, late return flying both Manchester-Hamburg and Hamburg-Manchester so may be better for business travellers. You can check out Lufthansa flights at www.lufthansa.co.uk.
Manchester, United Kingdom