Rightfully dubbed as one of this year’s most anticipated brand new luxury hotel openings, The FONTENAY Hamburg demonstrates that a life long passion and observation of real luxury by one of Germany’s wealthy families can easily substitute the need for any affiliation, franchise or operation under a reputed luxury hotel chain or group.
From the moment I stepped into the hotel, I was surprised by the sleekness of what could be compared to an ultra luxury yacht with an unconventional yet very elegant Front Office space, made up of stand alone desks with elegant face to face armchair seating for the guest and the agent to then walk past the reception in a few meters discover a most spectacular atrium resembling the interior of a grand opera house. This subtle blend of contemporary, understated luxury with classic twists prevails through the entire newly built hotel which as striking from the outside as it is in its interiors.
Located on Hamburg’s prestigious Alster Lake surrounded by beautifully manicured greenery and the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Germany with the most stunning private mansions, villas or even what seem palaces. While the centre of the city is within a 10 minute drive in a courtesy lavish Audi limo of the hotel, the location reflects an urban resort for both leisure and corporate travellers who I am sure to be tempted to extend their stay into a leisure one.
Thanks to the owners’s family impeccable reputation, the hotel almost instantly became a local attraction for the most discerning local residents for its food & beverage outlets, whether the restaurant downstairs with a beautiful outdoor terrace which serves all day dining, the high floor cafe where guests can gaze at stunning panoramic views of the city or the top floor which is house to a fine dining restaurant.
The rooms and suites are probably the most sophisticated I have seen in my travels, with custom made mattresses, the finest linens, touch activated oversized walk-in shower, bespoke Italian amenities, plush towels as well as an intricate, yet full functional centralised control of the room at a gentle touch of a screen – lights, curtains, blinds, AC, temperature, DND and television. Among the highlights are the beautiful hand crafted light cherry wood parquet and the highest level of indoor and outdoor soundproofing making for a most serene stay.
The dramatic opening of curtains in the morning to soak in the natural light is complemented by a tempting contemplation of the singing birds on the terrace where one can indulge in a perfect breakfast. No expense has been spared in the investment, with the finest materials and finished throughout all the rooms and suites which are presently the largest among all luxury hotels in Germany’s leading port city.
My suite, a Panorama designated one, had a huge outdoor terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows for the entire facade. Besides the elegant bedroom awash in pastel colours which sensibly ensure a timeless feel, there was a comfortable sitting area to catch up on as well as a living room with a large dining table that could easily be turned into a most casual work space – very smart approach not to install a space which would look like an office.
Considering my stay was just a few months after opening, service was of a reasonably high standard especially in the F&B outlets (except at times, it tended to be slightly robotic in sharp contrast with the laid back mood that the interior design invited for, Concierge, Guest Relations and Housekeeping. This is where probably owners and management should concentrate their focus, especially to train staff into providing a more genuine service. Mention must be made that I also encountered young passionate graduates as well as more experienced staff who showed that critical passion to serve which guests of such calibre properties ooze for.
There is also room for improvement in the arrival experience and what I suggested some additional complimentary perks at least for suite guests such as airport transfers or proximity car rides for those wishing to explore the very rich cultural city of Hamburg – which is still so little known.
The weakest point of The Fontenay Hamburg was the Spa, especially considering the expectations raised by the rest of the hotel – from the menu, ambiance, staff and service – there is a lot to work on. I had a very superficial welcome and a massage that could have been in a 4 star property. The heated swimming pool, part indoor and part outdoor (with an edge part) compensate, in part for the Spa. The swimming pool provides the vastest array of picture perfect spots, especially during sunny days.
But probably the biggest achievement of the hotel is the fact that it firmly boosts the luxury positioning of Hamburg as a destination which for many years relied only on the leading classic hotel, the Fairmont VierJahreszeten Hotel, a grand dame that has recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation.
With time and close attention from the owners, I am certain the hotel will only keep improving to reach luxury standards of global scale, especially considering its independent status.
Oliver Petcu in Hamburg
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