A Relaxing Hamburg City Break

Me and my boyfriend went away this Summer - we explored Copenhagen, then Sweden - and the last leg of our journey was a stop in Hamburg. 

The first half of our holiday had been quite full on. It was very fun, but getting up early every day to explore, on our a strict hourly itinerary (I'm a Virgo, okay - I can't help it) was quite tiring. So our stay in Hamburg was designated as relax time. 

Sir Nikolai Hotel 
Our accommodation didn't disappoint when it comes to relaxation. The room was so luxurious, the bed was enormous and plush, with deliciously cool air conditioning - we experienced a heatwave in Germany whilst we were there! Our room decor was cosy but modern, and the lobby and restaurant were very chic. In contrast to our bright and airy room, downstairs was very dark, dotted with spotlight lighting. Even the lobby was like an opulent bar. We didn't eat at the restaurant of an evening (it was Japanese cuisine and neither of us eat seafood) but in the morning the natural light streaming in brightened it up a bit. Speaking of the restaurant, the breakfast buffet was delicious. They had everything: fresh honeycomb, eggs cooked every way, bacon, yogurt and all the other usual suspects of a continental breakfast. You could even go and follow up your breakfast with a cup of coffee on the balcony just off of the restaurant, which overlooked a river running through Hamburg. Breakfast was very expensive, however. Even just a couple staying for a few nights like we were, could easily rack up a several hundred euro tab. It's nice and it's very convenient, but there's lots of cafes within walking distance so it's not necessarily a must. 

Sir Nikolai was also a perfect spot because of it's super convenient location: a painless 20 minute taxi ride from Hamburg train station (where we arrived from Denmark) and an equal distance to the airport (where we departed from to return home). It's situation just a street or two away from the Speicherstadt on one side, and the Rathaus on the other. A maximum 5 minute walk each way (and I'm a very slow walker. Asthma and all...). The only downside is there was some construction going on down the same street of the hotel. We didn't actually hear any noise from it, but it's not exactly a beautiful greeting when you step out the front door, and we could have potentially had a window directly facing a crane! But obviously something like this can't be helped.

The City 
The city is beautiful and I honestly think Hamburg is such an underrated destination. Me and Sam intend to visit again, not just for a relaxing holiday - with a bit more fuel in us next time! That being said, I wouldn't recommend Hamburg if you're into nightlife. There wasn't really any, certainly none we saw. All of the bars and restaurant-bars we visited in the evenings closed at 11pm or earlier. 
The Speicherstadt - the Warehouse district - was breathtaking. A far cry from the industrial estate in my local town. The red brick buildings are towering but oddly stunning. Sam and I spent several hours just walking around taking photographs. There's restaurants and cafes sprinkled around, and a strip of shops, including a small mall with a very M&S foodhall-esque supermarket. Whilst exploring the Speicherstadt, we stopped at a Heimat for lunch; a ship themed restaurant, with the ceiling lined with barrels and the staff dressed in striped naval uniform style clothing. The food was lovely: complimentary sauerkraut to start, then me and Sam both had currywurst. Naturally, it was the best I'd ever had! It was so delicious.  The selection of gins was small but I suspect well curated, the couple of drinks I tried were scrumptious. Highly recommend if you're in the area. 
The Rathaus wasn't as much of a spectacle as I thought it'd be, but it was certainly magnificent to look at. It's obviously a big selling point of Hamburg so I was expecting it to be somewhere we could dedicate a solid few hours to, but it was very much a 20 minute: "ah, there it is. Wow, it's big. Beautiful architecture... now what?" It's definitely worth putting on your Hamburg to-do list because it really is impressive to look at, the courtyard at the back is lovely; but it's sort of just an aesthetic centrepiece for the shopping district for the average tourist like me. Unless you have a very specific interest in the architecture or history, it's not really something 'to do', just something to see (albeit totally worth it). 
The expansive shopping district is really nice. Shops adorned with delicate awnings dot the river immediately opposite the Rathaus, and shops spread right back with some small shopping centres here and there. There's lots of very quaint cafes and lots of restaurants to cater to all budgets, which I found surprising for a city. Another thing I have to note about Hamburg is that the streets are spotlessly clean! Near enough everything seems brand new and very modern. 
All in all, I'd definitely recommend visiting Hamburg. Sam and I definitely plan to revisit to get more out of the city, there seems so much to explore that we didn't have the energy for by the end of this particular Summer adventure! Based on our experience, we'd definitely recommend Hamburg for a relaxed holiday. The kind you have no plans in particular but to have a wander, minimal effort sight seeing and R&R. Hamburg is so pleasant, you're never far from somewhere to dine alfresco whilst taking in industrial splendour. The whole city has a laid-back but vibrant atmosphere that's definitely worth experiencing. 

Thank you for reading!

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