Hamburg exists in the shadows cast by Germany’s other major cities. Berlin and Frankfurt are the country’s respective political and financial capitals, while Munich is internationally known as the home of Oktoberfest, the Bayern Munich soccer club, and corporate behemoths such as BMW, Siemens, and Allianz. Overshadowed as it may be, Hamburg is proof of the adage that things are cooler in the shade.
Germany's second largest city lacks Berlin's tourist cache, but that's fine with those who call Hamburg home (who themselves are called Hamburgers, believe it or not). In recent years, a crop of new bars, restaurants, galleries and hotels have sprung up in Hamburg's old harborside warehouses. To find out more about what this cosmopolitan city has to offer, we caught up with Ben Hayward, Director of Business Development at Magnetic, who travels to Hamburg often from his home base of London.
What brought you to Hamburg?
Our European headquarters are in London, but we have a great team in Hamburg and I travel out to see them and meet German business partners about once a month.
How did you decide where to stay?
We have a budget on Rocketrip so it’s easy to know what to aim for. I always try and beat the budget so I can store up Amazon vouchers from the rewards I get on Rocketrip! I stayed in a great hotel, but it fit my company's policy and came in quite a lot under my budget.
Did you eat anywhere memorable?
Hamburg is full of great places to eat. I ate an entire pork knuckle at a place called Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht. I’ve been there a couple of times and the food is incredible. Beware though, pigs have surprisingly big knuckles and you’ll be so full you can’t walk after eating one.
How many Rocketrip points did you earn on your trip to Hamburg?
On this particular trip I earned about 450 points, so I combined that with another trip to buy some Ray-Bans from Amazon. I’ve wanted them for years!
In traveling to Hamburg from the UK, you followed in the footsteps of the Beatles, who had a had a residency in several nightclubs in the city between 1960 and 1962. Which Beatle are you most similar to?
Comparing myself to the talent of any of the Beatles is clearly doing them a huge disservice, but I suppose I'd say Ringo as I do play the drums. That and I’m rarely allowed near a microphone. Definitely Ringo.
Hamburg's Reeperbahn is the largest red-light district in Europe. Do you know of somewhere more appropriate to go for fun on a business trip to Hamburg?
I can’t comment on the Reeperbahn (I’m pretty sure there isn’t a policy on Rocketrip for visits there anyway!), but there’s a bank that’s been turned into a bar right opposite our office which is great, it does excellent wine and has a great atmosphere. It’s called Die Bank and it’s definitely worth a visit. It would be great for a business dinner.
Thanks to Ben for answering our questions! Read on below for more Hamburg travel tips and facts.
Did you know?
- Hamburg has more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam combined.
- Hamburg's port is the second largest in Europe. But when it comes to tiny transportation infastructure, Hamburg is second to none. The city's Miniatur Wunderland boasts the world's largest miniature train set. Largest miniature train set: how's that for an oxymoronic world record?
- Another of Hamburg's unusual claims to fame is that the city is home to the world's first cage-less zoo. In 1907 the Tierpark Hagenbeck replaced all its cages with moats to better approximate the experience of observing animals in nature. The redesign proved popular with visitors and also - with the exception of a 1956 incident in which 45 rhesus monkeys escaped to roam the streets of Hamburg - safe.
- Oberhafen Kantine - Though it’s now thought of as the quintessentially American cuisine, the hamburger actually does have its origins in the city for which it’s named. The Oberhafen Kantine serves hamburgers, Hamburg-style: no bun, no ketchup, just generous helpings of spiced ground meat, served (naturally) with German potatoes instead of French fries.
- Meßmer Momentum - Of all the countless gallons of tea consumed throughout the course of European history, much of it has passed through the port of Hamburg. This museum and tea house run by the German brand Meßmer offers every variety of tea imaginable, as well as light cafe snacks, and tea infused cocktails that put the Long Island iced-tea to shame. Try the African Queen instead - a mix of rooibois tea, orange and peach juices, rum, vodka, vanilla extract and amaretto.
- Lusitano - It’s no surprise that you can find an abundance of seafood in the port city of Hamburg. What’s perhaps less expected is that some of the best seafood the city has to offer is served in a Portuguese restaurant. Instead of Northern European staples like smoked herring, Lusitano serves Mediterranean-style salt cod, mussels, and garlic prawns.
- Hotel Hafen Hamburg - The Hafen draws heavily upon Hamburg’s maritime history. The harborside building in the St. Pauli’s district now occupied by the hotel was formerly a seaman’s mission. The digs have been upgraded significantly since the days when they used to house rowdy sailors, but rooms are still affordable, and start at around €100.
- ARCOTEL Rubin - This stylish branch of the Austrian hotel chain ARCOTEL is named after the German word for ruby, which explains the red theme that predominates. Besides a coordinated color palette, the Rubin offers free WiFi, a free spa, and a prime location in the St. Georg district within walking distance of Hamburg’s main train station.
- Volkschulle - The Volkschulle is slightly removed from central Hamburg, though its proximity to the subway gives easy access to the harbor, Old Town, Reeperbahn and main train station. There are other pragmatic reasons to consider the Volkshulle (the free WiFi and complimentary breakfast buffet), as well as a whimsical one: the hotel is housed in a former school building.
Airbnb Options in Hamburg
Hamburg has many affordable Airbnb listings in neighborhoods like the boisterous St. Pauli district, the newly developed Hafencity, and the historic central district, which is somewhat misleadingly called the Neustadt.
How do you Rocketrip? Let us know your favorite things to do in Hamburg, or anywhere else your travels take you, by tweeting to @Rocketrip.