As the first stone for the classical building above the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken was laid in 1858, no one could have known that one of the most beautiful hotels in Hamburg would one day have its home here.
The building, previously used as a seaman’s mission, would develop – under the careful direction of the Bartels family – into a hotel with much charm and flair: the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. After many extensions and changes, the hotel now impresses guests from all around the world, who appreciate the flair of a traditional hotel combined with a modern style of living and individuality.
Like few other hotels, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg connects with the maritime heritage of the city and places great emphasis on personality and hanseatic flair.
Financed by donations, the seaman’s mission in the 19th century was for many years a hostel for men who answered the call of the sea. But the mission was not unaffected by the winds of time. During the two World Wars, the building was first used by the German Navy, before it was then seized by the Royal Navy. After the war the building was returned to its original use. From 1975 on, however, the seaman’s mission stood empty, as the city of Hamburg could no longer keep it going.
The new owner Willi Bartels recalls: “In 1979 we leased the brick building, which in the meantime had fallen into a proper state of disrepair, renovated it thoroughly, and in that same year opened the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, with 105 rooms.”
The prime location of the “balcony on the port” with views which no hotel guest in Hamburg had previously experienced, brought the hotel both immediate acclaim and healthy bookings. An extension beckoned, and so after the opening of what is today the Port restaurant and the incorporation of the side wing, the neighbouring building - the former nurse’s home of the hospital - was purchased, renovated and fitted out with hotel rooms.
A new landmark emerges
“To bridge the separation between the two buildings, we needed to connect them”, according to Bartels. The idea of a tower was born and the builders were suddenly all fired up for a new “Pearl” at the port. “The objective was to develop a unique character of tower, which would be unmistakeable in its form.” From the brief, to build a habitable tower, there came the connection to an example of maritime architecture from the past: the lighthouse. Its opening in 1987 brought not only more rooms, but also conference rooms. And not just that: it also brought the “Tower Bar”, much loved by all today, where one can enjoy the evening sun with a drink at 62 metres high up.
Like an elegant ship on stilts
Following this spectacular project, it was clear to the hotel operators that “We want to continually change and improve!” And so came at the start of the 90s the idea of building a separate complex beside the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, where above all conference rooms and additional rooms would be created. The idea grew and grew, received the working title “Residenz” and finally led to a stand-alone extension. “The hotel”, according to Bartels, “grew with the philosophy of being at the cutting edge technically. The glass ellipses on the roof of the hotel offer conference delegates a fantastic panoramic view of the port and St. Pauli.” From its opening in 1995, the Hotel Residenz Hafen Hamburg immediately proved very popular.
Well equipped for the new millenium
Despite the new-found capacity, the growing demand for conferences could not be satisfied. That was to change by the end of the millenium due to a spectacular addition to the roof of the original building, in the form of a banquet room completely in glass. Willi Bartels recalls: “Everything needed to be ready by 13.12.1999, as that was my 85th birthday. I wanted to celebrate under the “Elbe Dome” and dance into year 2000 here 18 days later!”
What belongs together, grows together
Due to comprehensive renovation work at the beginning of the new century, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg climbed into the 4-star class, meaning both hotel areas had a similar classification. According to Willi Bartels “The thinking was there, to unite the two hotels under the one name of Hotel Hafen Hamburg.” The first milestone in the complete integration of both hotels was a unified logo. For external communication, however, it was decided to continue to use the names “Classic” und “Residenz”. The room classes were kept also, to facilitate guests’ recollection. In September 2006 the process of unifying the hotels was complete. The individual names of both hotels were dropped for a single “Hotel Hafen Hamburg”. Standing still, however, is still not a characteristic one associates with the Hotel Hafen Hamburg: in 2009 135 rooms, the Port restaurant and the open areas of the original building were completely renovated. In 2012 came the next wave of renovation, with the modernisation of the nurses’ home to 64 modern, hanseatic ‘cabin’ rooms. Since then we have been welcoming our guests in the following categories: Sailor’s Class, Cabin Class, Lieutenant’s Class, Commander’s Class and Captain’s Class. The Hotel Hafen Hamburg today is among the largest hotels in Northern Germany and has become a beloved meeting point in the hanseatic city. With an average room occupancy rate of 90%, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg is among the market leaders in the Hamburg hotel business. The key to success: “Quality, charm and value for money – you must have it all!”Growth continues
Beyond the Hotel Hafen Hamburg we are growing also: because of our growing popularity we were unfortunately unable to satisfy all booking enquiries in the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. Against this backdrop the idea of an entirely new hotel emerged. Just 300 metres away we found the ideal place for its development, right in the heart of St. Pauli. On the corner of Bernhard-Nocht-Straße and Davidstraße our lifestyle- & design hotel EMPIRE RIVERSIDE HOTEL opened its doors in 2007 – right beside the Reeperbahn and the port of Hamburg. Find out more about “Hamburg‘s lifestyle & design hotel” at www.empire-riverside.de