If you in Hamburg on 2nd April head over to FORMIA’s talk at WTCE 2019, drop your business card in a bowl at the entrance to the event and you could be in with a chance of winning a SUITCASE Magazine subscription. 

Germany’s second-largest city may not have the sex appeal of other European metropolises, but more than makes up for it with intriguing, design-led spaces. A fusion of eclectic and sleek, it is a place that is proud of its marine heritage and thrives on multiculturalism and creativity. FORMIA x SUITCASE have curated an edit of what to do, eat and drink while in the city.

There’s no denying that Hamburg has become something of a hotspot. Chanel’s Métiers d’Art collection, shown in December 2017, helped to reinstate the city as a creative hub, which for all its efforts was already blazing the way on its own in the design sphere. The Elbphilharmonie, dubbed by Karl Lagerfeld as “the most interesting new building in Europe”, positioned on Zaha Hadid’s meandering waterfront promenade, is a sparkling, sequinned and silver-blue structure. A colossal, crystal landmark floating over the River Elbe, its rippling roof and elegantly curved silhouette stand out against the blue sky. The Elphi (as locals lovingly call it) took 10 years to complete and is the signature project in Hamburg’s plan to transform the HafenCity district into a hub for state-of-the-art architecture.

More importantly, it represents the city’s fusion of old and new – a place that is proud of its marine heritage and thrives on multiculturalism and creativity. Located in the heart of the Speicherstadt district, the building also accommodates uber-modern flats, a hotel, several restaurants and a public plaza, with many of its intricate design details mirrored in the residences near Überseequartier.

A short walk towards the neighbourhoods of St Pauli, Altona and Sternschanze, you might think you’re in another city altogether as you encounter a Hamburg that is predominantly young, unpolished and dynamic, as well as home to a creative scene that easily rivals that of Berlin. Art nouveau houses strung along cobbled streets shape its eclectic aesthetic alongside several newly opened eateries.

This article appears in Volume 22: The Design Issue


25Hours Altes Halfenamt

Housed in a former captain’s house and the oldest building in the HafenCity, this 49-room hotel is full of quirky details that unite contemporary design and industrial charm. Downstairs you’ll find the family-run restaurant Neni, where eating out always feels like dining with friends. Its warm atmosphere and heterogeneous collection of furniture, ranging from rustic vintage pieces to Persian carpets, is complemented by a selection of soul-food dishes.

Rooms from £95

Sir Nikolai

Perched on the Nikolaifleet waterfront, one of Hamburg’s oldest canals, this 94-room hotel combines heritage and modern design – think twinkling chandeliers, polished marble and rough wood and brick accents. A stone’s throw from the Speicherstadt and the Elbphilharmonie, you’ll find yourself between the Old Town and the modern HafenCity. Don’t miss out on the Japanese-Peruvian fare at the restaurant Izakaya.

Rooms from £115

The Fontenay

This architectural masterpiece on the shore of the Alster Lake is a destination in itself. Three intertwining circles form the amorphous shape of the building, and its glass atrium is made out of 198 panels with LED strips. The complex is dedicated to the merchant John Fontenay, who chose its waterfront location to set up his shipping business two centuries ago.

Rooms from £280

25Hours Altes Halfenamt

Sir Nikolai

The Fontenay

You May Also Like

City Guides

You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.


Curate your bookcase with the full SUITCASE library. From Volume 2 through 27, we've been around the world, explored uncharted landscapes and reexamined travel perceptions along the way. We invite you to do the same; grow your collection today.

Download Suitcase App
Learn More