Hotel Review: Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton
Review by Ron Bernthal
During a recent business trip to Hamburg, Germany, I took a fast metro train from the airport to the center of the city, a pleasant 25-minute ride. I was happy to have reserved a room at the Reichshof Hamburg, a deluxe property just a five-minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof, the city’s main railway station, where high-speed inter-city trains and local metro lines are accessible. The five-star Reichshof Hamburg re-opened in May, 2015, after a $34 million restoration.
Built in 1910 as the Reichshof Hamburg — now known as the Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton – the property was one of the largest hotels in Europe and the largest in Germany when it opened. It has now been exquisitely restored to its early grandeur, retaining its original Carrara marble columns and tile flooring, the art deco façade and gilt chandeliers in the lobby, and hand-crafted original walnut paneling in the Slowman restaurant and in some of the nine meeting rooms. The hotel’s early baroque and classical influences are clearly visible, and preserving many of the property’s original architecture was always part of the restoration plans.
My renovated room, like the other 277 rooms (reduced from the original 303 rooms), was quite large with a high-ceiling, art deco flourishes, complimentary Wi-Fi, large-screen HDTV, comfortable, modern furnishings, and a nice selection of bathroom amenities. The floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the Kirchenallee, a busy street that runs past the Hauptbahhof, located just down the block, but not directly opposite the hotel. This is not your typical cookie-cutter, chain property. There are more than 60 different room sizes and varieties, from the 150-215 square-foot medium size rooms, all the way up to the spacious one-bedroom suites.
The hotel’s lobby, including sections of the original checkered tile flooring, the framed black and white photographs of early Hamburg (including a large photo showing the interior of the hotel shortly after it opened), and the cozy Bar 1910, with its cocktails and premium whiskeys, are incredibly reminiscent of pre-World War I Germany, although with eclectic touches, such as the unique pink fabric hanging from the original lobby chandeliers and Sushi & Sweets lobby bar, which offers sushi and baked goods from the hotel’s own patisserie.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, known as Slowman (breakfast, lunch and dinner), was opened in the 1920’s and retains the ambience and look of early 20th-century Hamburg, with its ship-style design reflecting the city’s rich maritime history. With its walnut paneling and configuration the restaurant’s design takes its inspiration from the mid-19th century cruise line Hapag. The hotel’s builder and first owner, Anton Emil Langer (1864-1928), was a former executive chef of Hapag, and is responsible for the property’s present-day atmosphere and service. The Langer family continued to run the hotel for many years afterwards, and descendants still live nearby.
The property has a new spa and fitness center, and is located directly across the street from a StadtRAD Hamburg docking station, where inexpensive bike rentals are available for visitors and residents. Biking is a good way to get around this relatively flat city, but public transport is efficient with several metro lines stopping close to the hotel. The property is also within walking distance of Hamburg’s downtown lakes, the new HafenCity redevelopment district and the stunning new Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall).
Guests of the hotel should ask to see the property’s early, pioneering technology – a massive indoor car garage with hydraulic lifts. Although the garage is no longer operating (a newer garage is available), it is an amazing relic of the hotel’s early modernization projects. During World War II the former owners of the Reichshof Hamburg hid the hotel’s engraved silverware, porcelain equipment and art nouveau paintings in a hidden walled-off room, and some of these artifacts can still be spotted in the dining room and other areas of the property.
Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton
Kirchenallee 34 – 36,
20099 Hamburg, Germany