While Paris has a greater concentration of excellent luxury palace hotels than any other city in the world, Stockholm, Bangkok, Los Angeles, Rio, Tel Aviv and Lima are home to some of our favourite boutique properties.
In overall terms, Germany’s cities are hardly over-endowed with either luxury or boutique hotel accommodation. Yet, in Hamburg, the grande-dame Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten bucks this trend and can rival many world-class properties in terms of comfort, atmosphere and service.
Prominently located on the western and best side of the smaller of the Alster lakes, the Inner Alster, at the heart of the city’s business and luxury shopping area, this is the hotel of choice for Hamburg’s cognoscenti. They have adopted its pannelled lobby lounge as their drawing room and meet here regularly for business or pleasure.
Vier Jahreszeiten manages to combine a certain elegance with a youthful spirit, which is down to the skill of its excellent General Manager, Ingo Peters.
There is a choice of dining options, with Nikkei Nine for the young and young at heart, and The Grill, which is ideal for a business lunch. There is also a rooftop spa. Outside you will find plenty of cars and taxis and efficient doormen to assist you. The only blip is that smoking is still permitted in the small bar to the left of the lobby as you enter – something that today feels alien in our predominantly non-smoking world.
Apart from this minor quibble, the hotel’s services and thoughtful details are excellent, from the room appointments and housekeeping to the full-sized bottles of Panna water at your bedside, the berry fruits, wine and chocolate to welcome you, plentiful towels, linen face cloths, specialist unguents and other amenities. And, while Vier Jahreszeiten is classic, there is nothing stuffy about it.
It’s one and a half hours by train to Berlin, making these contrasting cities worth combining, especially for contemporary art in Berlin. Otherwise, a short (50-minute) flight means Hamburg combines exceedingly well with Copenhagen.