The Mövenpick Hotel Hamburg has water running through its veins. Even your entry into the hotel, through a spotlit tunnel, takes its inspiration from the sea. Projections on the wall simulate the movement of light on water, and sound effects drip-drip into your consciousness as you are transported to reception on a travelator.
These quirky additions to the welcome pack aren’t random effects. They’re part of an art project that runs throughout the hotel. While builders worked on the messy job of transforming a water tower that had been defunct since 1961 into luxury four star accommodation, artist Ulrike Bohme got on with providing a creative take on what this hotel once was; through colourful photography and furnishings like huge lights that mirror the shapes of the water tanks.
The 226 bedroom hotel isn’t the only one in Hamburg with an industrial past; a restored gasworks
in the city also offers accommodation. But set in Sternschanzenpark, the tower is an unusual and recognisable landmark that was built in 1863 to provide the water for a large chunk of the city.
A rubber duck and a bedtime adventure in every family bedroom
We arrive late after getting lost on the way from Holland. Our children are grouchy and ready for bed, but they perk up at reception when they are given free T shirts. On the front of the T shirts are instructions that anyone reading them must buy the wearer an ice cream. The kids linger in the lift; just in case. In our adjoining bedrooms they find a handwritten note addressed directly to them as well as kids dressing gown and slippers, and adventure bath kits. Rubber ducks are a common touch in Mövenpick hotels worldwide, but here, in a former water tower, the four little ducks guarding the sweeties on our pillows seem extra appropriate.
From historic water tower to modern harbour
After a very hearty breakfast, we ride the lift to the 16th floor. A viewing area next to the penthouse rooms gives us a clear view of the German city. The Ferris Wheel of the Hamburger Dom funfair and the spire of the iconic St Michael’s Church (Michaeliskirche) stand out against the clouds, but our first stop today will be Miniatur Wunderland; the biggest model railway in the world. It’s time to leave our water tower behind, and head off towards the hub of the second biggest port in Europe.
Kirstie Pelling is Director of The Family Adventure Project.