Courtyard by Marriott Hamburg City, Hamburg
‘I grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool,” John Lennon reportedly once said, such was the impact of the German location on the Beatles in their early years.
There are various spots commemorating the band around the city, which is home to this new addition to Marriott’s Courtyard brand. (It is the hotel giant’s largest division.)
I’m lucky enough to attend the launch of the hotel in the heart of Hamburg – one of a group of European cities vying for the “Venice of the north” title due to its many canals.
Key aspects of the city, such as its rich maritime heritage, are highlighted in artwork throughout the property, such as a striking, mural-scale black and white shot of sailors by Hamburg-based photographer Esther Haase, the first thing I see when crossing the threshold. The lobby’s stylishly relaxing combination of blue, grey and brown in the decor scheme sets the tone for the rest of the 277-room hotel.
Crucially, my levels of excitement about what is my maiden trip to Germany are heightened by the news that both the hotel and city itself are putting themselves on the foodie map.
Wining and dining
I’m drooling as soon as I hear that the hotel’s in-house restaurant Böckmann’s has a dedicated “Tartar Bar”. It lets you create your own beef, salmon or vegetarian version with marinades including miso nutbutter – and my intrepid research reveals that all three are excellent and full of flavour.
And more delicious dishes come our way courtesy of Hamburg Taste Tours – which showcase top foodie start-ups in what is evidently a flourishing local scene.
Stop-offs include café, bar and gin distillery Drilling, and handmade pasta joint Dametto where we’re transfixed by the wares made and cooked in front of us before we tuck in.
Also on our agenda is sampling Hamburg’s buoyant seafood offering – which we do in high-quality hipster style at Underdocks, which is housed in half a shipping container. More than two years in the making, it opened up to fill a gap in the market for a casual dining fish restaurant in the city.
There is also Au Quai, which has a different take on seafood, in more classic surroundings complete with riverside views across the Elbe – the waves break on the terrace. The restaurant – where dishes I try include ceviche and roasted fillet of Norwegian salmon – originated nearly 20 years ago when Italian-French siblings Sylviane and Enzo Caressa wanted to open an eatery with its own event space.
As for “wining”, the Courtyard bar serves the mint gin and tonic that’s apparently traditional to Hamburg.
But we’re also taken off-site in a short cab ride to the rooftop Heritage Bar – another new arrival to the city, located by the Alster Lake. Come for the ninth-floor views – we pop outside on to the terrace, admiring the stars twinkling on a clear night – stay for the excellently named cocktails – including the Fassgelagerter Negroni and, naturally, a Sgt Pepper.
The most striking features are artwork above my bed displaying a canal-tastic view of the city and floor-to-ceiling windows that make it feel summery and bright even in the winter. The room is overall calm and uncluttered.
Worth getting out of bed for
As a Beatles fan, I make a beeline for a monument dedicated to the band in the city’s famous Reeperbahn red light district, before heading to peer into the nearby Indra club that hosted many a show by the Fab Four. Both sites are surrounded by many rather, er, less cultural venues but I take a stroll through the more modern shopping district and see the city’s canals on the way back to the hotel.
The following morning we take to the water with a Fotohaven photo tour along the River Elbe, where we get to borrow a high-end camera – with advice on how to frame shots – and keep the memory card of our snaps.
The hotel has a spa, including a Finnish sauna, and a gym – and my visit to the latter is made less painful with the view over the multicoloured buildings stretching into the distance. The lobby houses a mini shop called The Market.
This comfortable and practical hotel offers a “wunderbar” hub from which to explore a city to which I would happily return for another magical mystery tour of its diverse offering.
Rooms start at €120 (£102) per night. Courtyard by Marriott Hamburg City, Adenauerallee 52, Hamburg 20097 Germany (+49 40 298420, https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/hamhc-courtyard-hamburg-city/).