Tatler Checks Into.... Sofitel Hamburg Alter Wall
With its numerous rivers and canals, the Hanseatic city of Hamburg has been a centre of commerce since the1800s. Its harbour is the second largest in Europe and an important gate to the countries along the Baltic Sea and Eastern Europe. This industrial background is the canvas on which the international brand Sofitel stamps its signature French art de vivre via its luxury hotel in the city, Sofitel Hamburg Alter Wall.
Built in 2000 on what was once a post office, the luxury hotel is a study in contrast. A modern hotel in the old part of town (hence Alter Wall or Old Wall), it enjoys a prime location on the Alsterfleet, only 150 metres from the stock exchange and a few minutes’ walk to the Rathaus (city hall). It stands by the lovely Alster Canal, a great view to the rooms overlooking it. Just across is the Neuer Wall (New Wall) and its rows of luxury brands for great shopping. Or you may want to sit in the courtyard fronting the Rathaus and admire this eclectic Neo-Renaissance building built in 1886. Or begin to explore the Jungfernstieg shopping promenade, another few corners away, and be distracted the whole day, until your feet tell you it’s time to go back to your home away from home.
To the tired tourist, harried businessman, or drained convention-goer, Sofitel Hamburg is a haven. Its most irresistible offering is the Sofitel MyBed experience. Exclusively designed for Sofitel hotels, Sofitel MyBed features reinforced edges that maximise your sleep surface, allowing you to stretch out and relax. Engineered to provide evenly balanced whole-body support, it has superior motion absorption and a medium-firm support with a soft top layer. Sleep on a Sofitel MyBed is not just a necessity, but an experience of French art de vivre. Because of a sustainability initiative called Planet 21 practiced not only in Sofitel hotels worldwide but also in others under AccorHotels management, several eco-friendly features are found in the guest rooms.
The wood of Sofitel MyBed is sourced from sustainably-managed forests; bedspreads and pillowcases are made from recycled bottles. Bathroom amenities are of well-known luxury brands, but eco-certified soap, shower gel, and shampoo are also available; the cleaning products used by the hotel are environmentally-friendly and eco-certified. Guests are also requested to reuse their towels. Savings made on water and energy are used to fund tree planting activities.
An observant hotel guest will easily spot two features of interest in the room. The first is a long, thin wooden drawer, shaped like a safety deposit box in a bank, pulled out halfway to hold a champagne bottle. The bubbly is, of course, very French, but the drawer is a replica of a postoffice box for letters, hinting at the hotel’s provenance. Next is a framed photograph of a dancing couple taken from a few decades ago. Similar photographs are hung everywhere in the hotel, like pictures of the family on a mantle or on a wall, because the artist, Martin Mlecko, wanted to create a feeling of home.
From the modern architecture in an old part of town, the contrast continues inside. The design team of Harald Klein and Bert Haller juxtaposed cold marble with plants for something natural, geometric patterns with the free-flowing shape of an interesting piece of dried wood, glass and steel with warm brown wood. These combinations continue on to every floor, to every room. This is a successful marriage of French art de vivre with Hanseatic Hamburg, of enjoying life with doing business.
Sofitel Hamburg has several dining outlets which feature healthy and sustainable food. Applying the initiative Planet 21, the hotel offers products grown in its kitchen gardens as well as locally sourced, is committed to reducing food waste, and bans the use of overfished species.
Breakfast buffet is served at the Seagull restaurant. Apart from the continental fare, you will find delicious German links, pickled herring, and freshly baked bread. Lunch and dinner are at the Ristorante Ticino, with delicious Mediterranean dishes specially created for the guests. Seven Heads Bar is a cosy nook for cocktails or after-dinner drinks. Unless it is a nice summer evening when you can take your drink outside to the Canal Terrace and enjoy Alster Canal in the evening. Or lunch when it is also open. In fact, it is not uncommon for business executives to book a private boat ride with the hotel that will take them to the Sofitel Hamburg’s exclusive dock to climb a few steps up the terrace.
A strength of Sofitel Hamburg is its great service for business meetings and conferences. With 19 rooms that could double or quadruple, depending on the requirements of the client, one can have a small meeting for as few as 10 people. A business centre is ready to answer additional needs and a Sofitel Magnifique Meetings Concierge is on hand to help in whatever way it can. Service is, again, tailored to the guests’ requirements.
When the mind and the muscles need a rest, go down to the Seagull Spa. You can opt for a swim through a canyon with a waterfall. You can try the sauna, the massages, and the beauty treatments. Or for a brisker activity, pump iron and sweat it out at the fitness studio.