Hamburg – Germany’s 2nd largest and many say finest city – is an innovative cosmopolitan meetings destinations that is energizing by day and exciting by night.
Whether meeting or doing activities amongst Hanseatic (Northern European) Brick Gothic buildings, grand merchants’ mansions, striking urban architecture, manicured parks or of course the jaw dropping harbor and world famous Reeperbahn, Hamburg leaves a bold impression on delegates.
Like the waves that come to shore, ideas and industry in Hamburg are ever dynamic – steeped in maritime tradition, rich in aviation, mobility, sustainability and urban design expertise, and booming with economic success and entrepreneurial spirit.
If you’ve never been to Hamburg – or even if you have – we invite you to take this “ tour” of what the city has to uniquely offer and which puts you in the footsteps of a group of US and Canadian meeting pros that recently joined the Hamburg CVB and German Convention Bureau for an Education Tour.
Day 1 – Moin! Welcome to Hamburg
We begin with a private chauffeur pick-up at the Hamburg airport gate by T&M Limousine Service and welcome refreshments at the Business and Airport Hotel Radisson Blu. Then there’s a short 20 minute transfer to our hospitality host – the Design Hotel Le Méridien which features elegance and luxury and is located in the heart of Hamburg on the shore of Lake Alster. Here 13 meeting rooms for up to 330 people, state-of-the-art conference technology and breath-taking lake views leave nothing to be desired – not a bad start to taking on Hamburg after a long flight, don’t you think?
Then we move on to our first official site visit at the five-star Atlantic Hotel Kempinski Hamburg – a.k.a. the “White Castle”. Uniting traditional and modern sensibilities with European flair, this exquisite grand-hotel is located on Lake Alster and has served as a calm oasis since opening in 1909. Guided by an amusing and interesting actor- you feel like Hanseatic (Northern European) royalty as you enjoy a private performance of what it would have felt like to visit or work at the property over 100 years ago. Chapeau!
Given that water is the key element which has shaped Hamburg for centuries our first day needs to include a trip on the Elbe, Germany’s second largest river at the heart of the city. The Elbe connects Hamburg’s economic districts with the open sea and has allowed Hamburg to be one of the world’s most important centers for trade and shipping.
We explore the river up close and personal with a ride on the exclusive barge MS Jacob. Sipping delicious cocktails you enjoy the skyline of Hamburg with its new landmark Elbphilharmonie (Philharmonic Hall) and the mighty port. Passing by grand mansions and white sandy beaches during the journey you arrive at the waterside hotel Louis C. Jacob just 20 minutes away from the city center.
This lovely property is part of the Leading Hotels of the World and is suitable for smaller groups who appreciate an exclusive and private ambiance. A highlight includes the dinner tour through the hotel featuring appetizers in the ice cellar, starters in the kitchen of Michelin Star Chef Thomas Martin, the main course in the elegant restaurant, and dessert on the famous lime-tree terrace with breathtaking views of the mighty river. Talk about a way to impress your delegates!
Day 2 – The Past and Future Await
Kicking off the first full day in Hamburg start with a yummy breakfast at the Fleetschlösschen, located in the Speicherstadt- Hamburg’s historic warehouse district. The small brick building was built in 1885 and was used as a customs office. Today it’s a café where you can enjoy lovely food and refreshments. (On the recent Hamburg Edu Tour visitors were also given a historic overview of the property by one of Germany’s leading PCOs Interplan who can serve as a resource to you as well).
Now it’s off to the HafenCity where new hotels, futuristic architecture, cafés, restaurants and shops emerge as part of the fabric of the historic port district. Perhaps the most striking example of fusing tradition and modernity in HafenCity is the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall which rises up as a bold wave of glass and steel from a foundation created by an old brick coffee warehouse
In November 2016 the attached Westin hotel will offer a 250 bedroom five star property located right in the Elbphilharmonie. Fantastic views of the city, port and river, leading edge meeting facilities and delicious F&B outlets and restaurants will all call it home WOW!
To round out the afternoon return to our breakfast location of the Historic Warehouse District – the Speicherstadt. This area is the world’s largest historic Warehouse District and captivates with 125 year old Gothic brick façades, wrought-iron walking bridges and lovely canals (in fact there are more bridges and canals here than in Venice, London and Amsterdam combined! ) Recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Speicherstadt has retained its historic charm and yet offers a variety of renovated, new and interesting venues and hotels. Hamburg CVB partner Conference & Touring can help you check out how coffee tastings and spice seminars can be used as unique meeting elements.
The second evening is all about hitting the funky St. Pauli City District with its infamous Reeperbahn Street. A great part of town which give your delegates or incentive groups an adventure they will be hard-pressed to forget.
Once solely the red light district of Hamburg, St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn are now the places to be – to visit, to party, and to live. Sure, there’s still an edginess here, but it’s being used to the advantage of an increasing number of meeting and business groups to provide a truly unique experience.
Thanks to CPO Hanser (another leading German PCO) we have an inventive Sushi dinner from sushi master Kubaki at Dips ‘n Stix a restaurant that is part of the organizing company Nordic Broadway. Nordic Broadway manages a number of restaurants and historic theaters in St. Pauli and has created a variety of unique conference and event spaces not to mention some cool activities like the i-Pad Tour (starring a scavenger hunt) and the Hangover Tour (which includes poker training in the Casino Suite of the Hamburg Casino.)
While down in the St.Pauli/Reeperbahn area, it’s also good to check out the uber-cosmopolitan East Hotel Hamburg. This property manages the Coast by East Restaurant and the brand new Clouds conference space and restaurant as well overlooking the rooftops of Hamburg with a panoramic view of the Harbor, three meeting rooms, state of the art technology, and a professional kitchen space.
Phew that was a full line-up. Time for Bed!
Day 3 – Local Vibe & Knowledge Sharing Abounds
The third day is all about education, meeting up with the HafenCity Corporation to get wise about sustainability projects and best practices within Hamburg as a “SmartCity”. Hafen City is Europe’s largest urban development project while it and Hamburg are also leaders in flood protection, renewable energy, and smart mobility. It’s unbelievable how much there is to discover from local experts … not to mention endless options for green meetings and events spaces.
Next, let’s move back in time to the late 18th century and The Emigration Museum Ballinstadt particularly interesting to American delegates as over 5 million people emigrated from Hamburg to the new world when America was young. In this museum of over 26K square feet delegates can gather and experience a fascinating migration history of over four eras following in the path of people striving to fulfill their hopes and dreams on their journey to a new homeland.
When it’s time for lunch the largest privately owned five star conference hotel the Grand Elysée is an ideal location for a delicious meal and private site inspection. Even though it’s quite large, it retains a cozy living room atmosphere and draws many locals giving it a truly authentic vibe – after trying the yummy sweets you’ll know why it’s such a hot spot but the excellent 30+ conference rooms available also leave nothing to be desired!
Then it’s off to another and almost final adventure. Our last evening takes place in the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten – the essence of what is understood to be a Grand Hotel in the European tradition. What a beauty in the heart of town. Thanks to the fantastic weather we enjoyed an outstanding barbecue on their rooftop terrace before heading to a last activity – a boat ride on the historic steamboat “St. Georg” in combination with a fun iPad Challenge from Geo Bound.
This cruise along the Alster canals and lakes reveals the mysterious side of Hamburg ….beautifully-kept villas with hidden parkland and luxurious penthouse apartments as well as other interesting sights along unspoiled riverbanks.
Day 4 – Nothing Fishy Here
Before leaving the city a must-see in Hamburg is the legendary fish market. Since 1703, pretty much everything has been traded and sold here on each and every Sunday morning. Fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, plants, flowers and more can be found here in in the shadow of the 100-year old fish auction hall.
It’s such a great joy to enjoy live music, drink freshly brewed coffee (never had such a strong cup perhaps?) and eat super fresh fish rolls combined with sunshine and the sounds of the nearby port with its container and cruise ships.
It certainly is a perfect ending to an exciting visit to Hamburg!
I did not have previous knowledge of the city, this visit helped develop that impression and I enjoyed my time in Hamburg. It is a very comfortable city that you don’t feel lost in like many larger cities, yet still has similar amenities available.
Everything was so organized from the beginning of planning through the ride to the airport on the way home.
I had visited Hamburg once, many years ago, so the HafenCity development was new to me, and very impressive. I think that the Elbphilharmonie will prove to be an iconic building for Hamburg, and a destination in itself (as the Guggenheim has for Bilbao).
It is very undiscovered; offers a lot for the MICE market and easy to get there from North America.