The Japanese call Hamburg ‘the green city in the woods’ – and not without reason: 27% of the city comprises natural areas. Hamburg is a cosmopolitan city close to nature and perfect for a long weekend of exploring on foot, by bike or even on the water. At Hamburg’s heart lies a natural ‘green lung’; the glimmering Lake Alster and the lush parkland that skirts it. Located on this urban shoreline is The Fontenay, a lakeside luxury hotel opened in March 2018 that represents the perfect balance between nature and urban living. The hotel is welcoming back guests this summer with an array of suggested activities that combine city culture with al fresco living.
From The Fontenay, it is a 20-minute walk along the banks of Lake Alster into the city centre, with its ‘barista triangle’ area, independent shops and cultural attractions, including the historic waterfront HafenCity. The entire lake can be circumnavigated on foot in just over two hours, or longer if visitors linger over cafes, museums and piers en-route. The Fontenay also has bicycles to borrow to explore further afield up the Elbe River to the beach at Elbe. Guided cycle tours can be booked through The Fontenay’s concierge.
Lake Alster itself provides the perfect way to get a different view on Hamburg from the water. There are a huge variety of modes of transport, from canoes, pedal boats, sailboats, rowing boats, Venetian gondolas and even a Dragon boat for larger groups. ‘SUP the City’ tours can be arranged to explore the lake and the Alster canals, where you can observe villas and homes not usually visible to tourists. For a nautical ‘drive thru’, cafes can be found with serving hatches onto the water serving passing rowing boats traditional plum cake and a refreshing beer.
Those who don’t have sea legs can explore Hamburg on foot using a map supplied by The Fontenay, or perhaps taking an alternative guided walking tour, such as a two-hour street art tour. 2020 is the 60th anniversary of The Beatles in Hamburg and heritage tours can be arranged through the hotel’s concierge, exploring the story of the city’s music scene, a rich learning ground where The Beatles first refined their sound and became the band we know today.
Designed to be a reflection of modern Hamburg and the natural urban shoreline that surrounds it, The Fontenay has a free-flowing, sculptural architecture, contemporary interiors and luxury living spaces. Each of its 130 rooms has a spacious balcony, many with views of Lake Alster. Al fresco living continues with a beautiful summer terrace with tables under the trees for all-day dining at Parkview restaurant.
Meanwhile on the roof, a 20m-indoor/outdoor-infinity pool merges into the waters of the lake. Also on the roof is a large 500 m² outdoor bar terrace with a 320° view of the Hamburg skyline. All five of Hamburg’s main churches, the inner and outer Alster Lake, the Elbphilarmonie and the Town Hall can all be seen from here.
British Airways and Eurowings currently offer direct flights from London to Hamburg.