HafenCity: Germany’s Newest Destination

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Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. © Herzog & de Meuron
An illustration of Elbphilharmonie concert hall's northeast elevation. © Herzog & de Meuron

In the early-1990s, HafenCity was just a collection of paper, scribbles and renderings. A plan. A masterplan, actually. But on Leap Day of 2000, Hamburg’s Senate made the leap of faith necessary to turn the quiet port area of Hamburg—located along the River Elbe—into Germany’s newest hub for business, social, cultural and urban society by giving those scribbles permission to come to life.

More than a decade later, this waterfront district known as HafenCity has grown into the perfect destination for those clients looking for a new and modern city to explore, with fresh restaurant concepts, waterfront shopping boasting new fashion and design, award-winning accommodations and an abundance of cultural outlets, plus plans for a truly outstanding concert hall in the works.

Shopping and Dining
The best opportunities for shopping and dining will be found in the central Ubersee Quarter, an outdoor area offering fresh markets alongside first-class fashion. Newly opened fashion stores include Dannemann-Pure with styles made of natural materials and Stilhaus Blocker, offering personal shoppers and style consultants. Meanwhile, nearby Der.Die.Sein Markt offers handicrafts, art, jewelry, and unusual souvenirs. Each Saturday, about 45 local artists and designers gather in the Unilever House inner courtyard to present their goods, with live music and river views.

Have your clients keep their Sundays open, too. Throughout the summer, HafenCity will offer waterside activities every Sunday, including live music, dance and fashion programs. For more information, visit hafencity.com.

Museums and Music
No place could be better than this historic port city for your clients to experience life at sea—if just for a few hours. The International Maritime Museum features the largest private maritime collection in the world, spanning a wealth of topics including famous explorers, navigation, shipbuilding and engineering, trade and travel, and of course, pirates and treasure. Tickets start at $10.75. For more information, visit internationales-maritimes-museum.de/en.

Although the Elbphilharmonie concert hall isn’t set to unlock its doors for more than a year from now, it is already an architectural landmark that literally cannot to be missed—a focal point of the city. Perched on the edge of intersecting waterways, the building’s brick foundation—once a cocoa warehouse, now the parking garage—supports 20 more floors and a facade made entirely of flat, bubbled and frosted windows. The rooftop is what stands out the most, though, featuring a design that mimics both the waves in the river below as well as the dips and crests of a conductors’ wand. Construction site tours are available with advance reservations. For more information, visit elbphilharmonie.de.

Sleep and Travel
Open for just a year so far, 25hours Hotel HafenCity has already been featured in Travel+Leisure magazine as an ultra-hip place to lay your locks, and was a winner of the Travel+Leisure Design Awards 2012. Located near the docks, the property captures the essence of HafenCity’s spirit with nautical furniture and accessories. Items that lend to the style include globe lamps, propeller art, shipping crate furniture and porthole bathroom mirrors. 25hours Hotel HafenCity features 170 guestrooms and suites, Heimat Kuche + Bar restaurant and lounge, rooftop sauna, game room with garden access, and vinyl record and radio room. Rates range from $132 to $195 per night. For more information, visit 25hours-hotels.com/hafencity.