It’s been nearly two decades since Hamburg has had a new five-star hotel take ground in Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city and historic port town that made UNESCO’s World Heritage list. We had a chance to walk through the city’s latest in luxury, THE FONTENAY, before its slated 15 March opening.

THE FONTENAY exterior – via

It’s meditative

Designed by Hamburg architect Jan Storm, THE FONTENAY is a relaxing horizontal wave of three intertwining circles that takes inspiration from the undulations of nearby Lake Alster. In the winter months, more than half of its 131 rooms enjoy a view of the lake, with light illuminating all of the rooms and public spaces. By summer, the entire neighbourhood blooms with lush greenery; while THE FONTENAY, an architectural sculpture covered in thousands of white tiles, hides in the foliage as a lakeside oasis.

It’s futuristic-chic, with a touch of custom

Just like its beautiful exterior, the interior architecture plays on the ebb and flow of water and reflection, The light-coloured corridors wrap around the Fontenay’s semicircle floor plan, and its floors are covered with custom-made carpets by House of Tai Ping. Because of its curvaceous nature, almost all furniture is bespoke in its lounges, libraries, dining areas and guest rooms – in particular, they have custom beds, dressers, armoires and even television displays, which mix with classic pieces by Eero Saarinen, B&B Italia, Flexform and Moroso. The overall design vibe is modern and minimal, with frills being left to quality, material and, of course, colour. In fact, colour is key: all rooms celebrate nature and tranquility in a palette of turquoise, ecru and soft sage, while the entrance is a monument of dark marble leading into an atrium and all-white lounge area.

It’s tasty

Lakeside – via THE FONTENAY
Fontenay Atrium – via THE FONTENAY
Fontenay Atrium – via THE FONTENAY

The hotel doesn’t just sit along the banks of Lake Alster – it exists on rooftop restaurant, Lakeside, which was named after the coveted location. Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Speinle – whose stars shine at his own Dreizehn Sinne in Switzerland and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck – is in residence, and has created a menu of dishes that focus on fish and seafood from around the world, as well as fresh, local ingredients. Though Lakeside was not yet open for dining when we visited, its design was complete, with a very fabulous and chic white-on-white décor and a panoramic view of Lake Alster and the city of Hamburg.   The dining room is an open atrium, while the private-dining area (seating up to 10 people) is perfect for an intimate dinner with friends and family.

The hotel takes advantage of the view with the Fontenay Bar,  which sits just below the rooftop restaurant. It was not quite finished when we visited, so we don’t have a pulse on design – but it is guaranteed to flow with THE FONTENAY’s futuristic-chic focus. Meanwhile, the bar is set to be the destination for the cocktail crowd, with its spectacular bird’s nest view of the lake. For a more casual afternoon or evening, John’s – the ground-floor bistrot – is the perfect place for a garden party or spring-time lunch, opening up into THE FONTENAY’s greenery. Again, we arrived just as the furniture was being unboxed, so we can’t take a stance on design or menu – but the space is undeniably gorgeous: around 10 metres from high-floor-to-ceiling windows that open on to a garden patio surrounded by a giant beech, an oak and a forest of sycamore trees.

Here’s our favourite fact: according to General Manager Thies Sponholz, THE FONTENAY sponsors a grove of apple trees from Bey Orchard, which means guests will be given home-grown apple of different varieties.

It has the most desirable spa in the city

Infinity pool at THE HAMBURG
Infinity pool at THE HAMBURG – via THE HAMBURG

What is sure to be the main focus is the Fontenay Spa, a 1,000-square-metre retreat with private treatment rooms and suites, a Vichy Bed, a Finnish sauna, an aroma-quartzite steam room and an ice fountain – everything you ever wanted in a spa. What makes it the destination for relaxation is its pivotal spot on THE FONTENAY’s roofscape, giving travellers the entire Hamburg panorama from its wellness rooms – and an even more envious perspective of the city from the 20-metre indoor/outdoor infinity pool.

The Fontenay is now taking reservations, with classic rooms starting at 290 euros per night, and packages for families, architecture aficianados and more. THE FONTENAY is part of the Leading Hotels of the World.


Erica Firpo
Erica Firpo is a travel journalist and digital storyteller with bylines on Fathom, WallPaper, Wine Enthusiast, Travel + Leisure, The Guardian, The Telegraph and more, as well as her own site, CiaoBella.