the new, old fairmont hotel vier jahreszeiten hamburg

Is it old? Is it new? The answer is it’s both. And it’s beautiful. Dating back to 1897, this Grande Dame of Hanseatic hospitality presents itself in immaculate condition. One reason for that is that General Manager Ingo Peters is extremely attentive to the property’s maintenance, the other reason is that she recently enjoyed a EUR 25 million facelift.

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But what exactly had been done? When you walk through the hotel you will not see too much change. As I said, the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is a beautiful hotel, always has been and many of the public areas have hardly been touched. Instead a large portion of the expenditure went into updating the existing infrastructure behind the scenes by fitting a state-of-the-art fire protection, sprinkler and air conditioning system. Even if you look closely you will have a hard time spotting the subtle sprinklers and emergency LED lights in the historic stuccoed ceiling. As Raimund Schied, the hotel’s Executive Assistant Manager explains, the challenge was to make it as discreet as possible, maintaining the hotel’s authentic charm by hiding the modern technology away as much as possible.

You won’t see any modern gadgets fused together with historic elements; the hotel has maintained it’s original charm. You immediately feel it as you are being drawn into the elegant ‘Wohnhalle’, the hotel’s lounge (actually the word salon is more appropriate), where locals and international guests occupy comfortable sofas and armchairs as they mingle over high tea. The historic, wood paneled hall with its large fireplace oozes an amazing atmosphere.

All of the hotel’s rooms have equally been recently redone, fitted with 42 inch Loewe flat screen TVs, iPod docks and Nespresso machines. New beds, mattresses, carpets and curtains further enhance the rooms. Only the wooden floors remain the same, greeting me with a discreet creaking as I enter my Prinz Heinrich Suite.

To me a creaking parquet is a highlight in any hotel, simply because it can’t be recreated and thus to me is the ultimate sign of authenticity. In the case of the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, the 103 year old floor was tastefully blended together with the new carpets.

Views over the Binnenalster, Hamburg’s centre of town round off the experience. But let’s come back to the renovation: the Biedermeier style breakfast room has also been redone, entirely actually, but tastefully recreated to maintain it’s cozy coffee house ambience. On the ground floor, the new Condi Lounge serves as a small Deli style outlet accessible directly from the street, serving pastries during the day and tapas in the evenings. A popular hangout with the Hamburg locals, it complements the hotel’s most famous outlet, its bar. Probably one the smallest hotel bars I know it’s reputation is the entire opposite. Located in the former Director’s office, the bar stools, sofas and chairs are covered in red leather from old Rolls Royce seats. These remained untouched as well, only the ceiling and walls have been changed slightly to hide the new high tech appliances. Again, you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know.

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I guess you can say the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is a timeless beauty, one that aged with dignity and style over the years. It’s recent nip/tuck has only helped it strengthen it’s position as Hamburg’s First Lady of hospitality for the future.

Also published in Passport.

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