This is the fourth post in a series covering my extended Labor Day weekend trip to Hamburg. You can check out an overview here.
One of the major reasons I picked Hamburg for my Labor Day adventure was the Fairmont Vier Jahreszeiten. I had gotten the Chase Fairmont Visa card last winter after rumors that the product would be going away in light of the purchase of Fairmont by Accor. The card had a great sign up bonus of two free nights at any Fairmont property, plus cardholders got Premier status in Fairmont’s President’s Club, which entitles you to one free suite upgrade, one free room upgrade, $50 food and beverage credit, and a 3rd night free every year. The suite and room upgrades are good for your entire stay, so I was able to apply a suite upgrade to my two-night free stay – confirmed in advance via the friendly Canadian Fairmont reservations desk. And, dear reader, my room, a Lakefront Suite, was the nicest I’ve ever stayed in in my life.
The Fairmont is pretty centrally located – not quite as central as the Park Hyatt, but still in walking distance to a lot. It faces the Binneralster and is about 2 blocks away from the Jungfernstieg U-bahn station. From the inside and throughout, the design is very old-world, with ornate detailing. The lobby is all dark-wood and brass accents, and the check-in desk is old-school, with rows of keys and cubbies for each room behind the desk.
I arrived at 11:45, and the friendly agent told me my room wouldn’t be ready for 30 minutes. She offered to get me a coffee if I wanted to wait, or to call when the room was ready, but I just left my bags and headed out on some exploring. When I got back at 3:10, the room was ready, and I was given the huge key to my suite on the first floor.
There’s a foyer for each room, with coat hooks and an umbrella stand (with umbrella), before the actual locked door. Well, I couldn’t figure out how to get the key to work. Although it was on a massive heavy metal keychain, it’s an electronic key. So, I went back downstairs and the agent came upstairs with me to show me how it worked, and then I was inside my 800 square foot suite- larger than my condo, immaculate, newly renovated while also keeping with the style of the hotel.
Where to start. Well there were really three main rooms. Upon entering, you were in the living room. In the center was a big television and functional fireplace, faced by a couch and armchairs and coffee table under a huge chandelier. There were bookshelves on either side, stocked with books and curios. The books included several new ones about Hamburg and the hotel (and there were more on the coffee table). On the coffee table was a welcome amenity of macarons and fruit, plus dominoes, checkers, and other games.
Behind the couch was a credenza with a Nespresso machine, incense, a minibar, a Blu-ray player, and an iPod dock, with two side chairs. The floors in that room were a wood laminate, with an area rug. On the side of the room facing the large windows was a huge desk, complete with a tablet featuring hotel information, and a range of office supplies. The only disappointing thing about the room was the lack of a real view, since the suite was on the first floor. I’m not sure if there are suites on higher levels, but you couldn’t really see much. There was a festival going on at the Binneralster during my stay, which was fun to visit, but probably also made the view worse.
Through a set of double French doors was the bedroom. There was a king-size bed, another large TV, and a wall of built-ins. There was then an additional walk-in closet, as well as a smaller chandelier.
Then there was the bathroom. Great googly-moogly. It was huge and I could live in it. There was a large soaking tub next to the window looking out onto an inner courtyard, a stall shower, toilet, bidet, and two separate large pedestal sinks. There were also heated towel racks, and more amenities than you could ever need, with toiletries courtesy of Le Labo – bath salts, creams, lotions, emery boards, wet wipes, etc. The plumbing was old-fashioned in style but clearly new. The white and black tile was very clean and fresh without being too dissonant with the rest of the hotel.
That first afternoon, I took a nap, but was woken by the bass from the festival. So I checked out the fitness center on the fifth floor. It was styled like an old-time men’s athletic club, with rich burgundy and wood tones, and a huge sofa and television area. All of the cardio machines were brand new, and the gym was spotless both times I met. In the stretching area, the yoga mats were laid out just so, each with a pillow and a fresh towel. There was not a lot of weight-training equipment, which is not surprising given the hotel was almost all older (rich) people.
There had been a turndown service while I was at the gym, and I got ready to use my dining credits. The hotel has several restaurants, and some are *very* fancy, including Nikkei Nine, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant, and Harelin, recipient of two Michelin stars. I didn’t think there was a need for me to spend more than my $50 credit on dinner, though, so aimed for one of the more casual restaurants, the Jahreszeiten Terrace. I was confused at first, because it was not on the rooftop terrace (which was lovely and had some nice views), but rather across the street from the hotel, on the lake itself. I erred in eating there my first night, when the festival was still going on, as it made it less relaxing, but figured it was the pretty time of evening for it and I’d just do it. There was a little confusion about my use of the President’s Club certificates. The rules explicitly say you have to tell your server at the time of ordering and can’t use them at check out – but there aren’t any actual paper certificates, they are just e-certificates in your account. The waitress, though very polite, had no idea what I was talking about. She seemed to figure it out after some calls, though. My $50 in credits got me a very delicious steak, which came with a side salad and parmesan truffle fries, and two beers. By the time I finished dinner at 9pm, I was the only one left.
For dessert, I stopped at one of the festival food stands for 3 EUR worth of funnel cake-like small pieces of dough, and promptly got myself covered in powdered sugar. I had my first night in of the trip, where I attempted to watch some TV, but there were very few English channels and the TV was actually too big to view from the couch. I slept quite well. Both mornings, I went to the Starbucks a half-block from the hotel for breakfast. It has a lovely outdoor plaza area, with views of the lake and good people-watching – much more affordable than eating at the hotel.
Throughout my stay, the staff always referred to me by name – this was more frequent than you’d think because I dropped off the key each time I left the hotel. At check-out, the agent told me I had a charge of 42,50 EUR for dinner; I explained the certificates and he said not to worry, he’d take care of it. (And surprisingly, it worked out fine and the two $25 certificates were debited from my account.)
In all, the Fairmont was a fantastic way to end my stay in Hamburg in luxury. It was also hands down the best value from a hotel credit card sign up I’ve ever had (better than the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau or Paris Vendome. The rack rate for the Lakefront Suite was 1,260 EUR. On the days I was visiting, it was going for around 900 EUR a night – but you can get it for about 750 EUR in the winter. But I imagine the regular rooms at the hotel are very nice as well, and the service was extraordinary. I’m really looking forward to my upcoming stay at the Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen in February.
Up next, a report on how I spent my days in Hamburg – a city I really enjoyed.