It was a visit, I was especially looking forward to. Even before its actual opening in spring 2018, “The Fontenay” hotel in Hamburg was making headlines, whether it was because of its spectacular €100 million construction or the general expectation of superlative standards from the public as well as critics. It was always clear that something very special was taking shape here.
One thing is clear: “The Fontenay” stands out! The curved, concentric, and circular architecture is well situated on the Outer Alster lake. In the immediate vicinity is the upscale Rotherbaum district as well as the American embassy. The oversized entrance to the hotel is simple, chic, and impressive at the same time. Windows and white color dominate the exterior façade. By the way, this was mandatory, meaning that building in this area required white facades. The building definitely fits in with its surroundings in terms of color. If you ask Hamburgers about the architecture of the building, you’ll get more answers than the number of people you ask. Some even talk about it as a foreign object. It’s a matter of taste, but no effort or expense was spared here. The majority of the building components are custom-made. Why? Because there are practically no standard building components that can be used in the curved architecture. Everything is custom-made. The building is making waves, and I think that’s a good thing! Normal is not different, and there are enough normal hotel architectures, even in the 5-star category.
The Check-In Service
The check-in procedure is done on a highly personal level. Not at a desk as usual, but sitting at an office table, as a kind of private check-in. Private, but also because it is more like a casual conversation than the usual question/answer game, and at such a clever, charming, and, above all, warm level that it does not seem artificial at all. Here, the service has already done a great job. I really feel like a warmly welcomed guest.
I was really surprised when the check-in employee accompanied me to my room and explained everything I needed to know. This is a small but incredibly personal gesture and therefore exceptional and gives a very welcoming feeling.
The room has the warm charm of a well-furnished and softly decorated living room. It immediately conveys the often-missing “I am at home” character. The colors and materials are high-quality and perfectly matched. It is certainly elegant at a high level but not showy. The same goes for the installed technology. Automatic curtains, an electronically controlled rainforest shower with radio and light effect, and above all, finally a smart living product that can be controlled from a panel and has a night switch where all the lights really go out! Who doesn’t know that? Nothing is more annoying than searching for all the light switches across the room before going to bed at night to make sure all the lights are turned off. “The Fontenay” can do it with just one switch! Admittedly, that’s a small thing, but incredibly pleasant.
Of course, a walk-in closet, including a full-length mirror, is a must. The living room has a couch with a table. But what’s really nice is that all 114 rooms and 17 suites have a covered balcony, large enough for two chairs and a table. This automatically brings us to the next exceptional feature. All rooms are exterior rooms. There are no rooms facing the courtyard. This is made possible by the circular design. Clever! By the way, if you step out of the elevator on your floor, turn left or right and go to the end, you will be back at the same elevator. Somehow original.
The minibar is included in the room price and is refilled daily. Various juices, soft drinks, as well as two beers from the house brand “The Fontenay No. 10” are available. But more on that later.
Of course, “The Fontenay” has a lot to offer gastronomically. Superlatives come with obligations, and this has been excellently implemented in the restaurant sector, without experiments, namely deliciously down-to-earth.
On the ground floor with a garden terrace, you’ll find Parkview. The kitchen serves seasonally varying dishes but remains wonderfully classic. Here, not only lunch and dinner are served, but breakfast is also served. When the weather is nice, breakfast can also be enjoyed outside in the garden terrace overlooking the Außenalster. The breakfast itself is of exceptionally high quality. The buffet has been carefully selected and the ingredients are lovingly arranged. Of course, some people might argue that it is kept simple. But here too, it is clearly quality over quantity! And I like that.
Lakeside is located on the glazed top floor. The Michelin-starred restaurant, led by Swiss chef Cornelius Speinle, was awarded “Swiss Star Abroad” by the Swiss Gault&Millau edition. Gault&Millau Germany honored the restaurant with an excellent 17 out of 20 points. The Michelin Guide also awarded the restaurant a star. A wine award was also won. Stefanie Hehn was named Sommelier of the Year.
But the “hidden gem” of “The Fontenay” gastronomy is the spectacular “The Fontenay Bar” with a 320-degree terrace. Open from noon until late at night. A truly conspiratorial and cosmopolitan place. Whether indoors or outdoors on the terrace, the bar remains an eye-catcher. It has long since become a meeting place for the city, even for locals. Without a reservation, it’s hard to find a seat on the terrace. The service and offerings are excellent. A visit to the bar is an absolute must, not only for hotel guests.
By the way: “The Fontenay” also has its own beer. “The Fontenay No. 10” is named after the hotel’s address with the street number 10. The beer is exclusively brewed by the well-known Ratsherrn brewery. It tastes great!
The Spa Area
Another novelty is the spa area on the top floor, more specifically, the pool area. This area runs both indoors and outdoors, and provides a magnificent view of the city of Hamburg and the Alster Lake. It’s a truly majestic feeling! A relaxation area, sauna, fitness center, and treatment rooms are also available. The spa area can be accessed via a separate elevator from all floors, which is quite charming. This way, guests can easily transfer from their rooms to the spa area in their bathrobes without encountering other guests in the normal elevator. This is undoubtedly comfortable and pleasant for all parties involved!