The Hotel Hafen Hamburg is well known for its thrilling past, which is taking place in the 19th century. We would like to follow you on a little maritime journey.
The foundation of today’s Hotel Hafen Hamburg has been laid out in 1858. Before the house opened its doors to visitors, it was originally served as a seamen’s home. This project was initiated by local shipping companies and supported by sponsors of the industry.
The accommodation offered space for about 24 sailors, who could get a hot meal for only 2 German Marks. The offer spread quickly and was very well received.
The Seamen Authority, shipping companies and the Hamburg Navigation School.
Impounded by the Royal Navy
The former sailor’s home survived the First World War without visible damage. Years later, after the end of World War I and Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power, the German Labor Front expropriated the non-profit building in 1938 and transferred the property rights to the Senate of Hamburg. However, World War II was imminent. During this time, the house was again used by the german navy for training purposes.
As if by a miracle, the facility survived the second world war and the massive air raids, that devastated not only Hamburg, without any significant damage and remained in good condition despite two world wars. After the end of the war, the Royal Navy was very quickly recognized.
Back to the roots
10 years later, the building was released by the Royal Navy and then returned to its former purpose – a seafaring home. But, due to economic interests of the city, this constellation did not last very long.
After the building was released, the Housing Authority handed over the premises to the Hydrographic Institute, the Shipping and Transport Authority and the Tropical Institute for a peaceful use. At the same time, attempt to make the seafarer’s home and thus return to its former purpose.
From 1949, up to 30 seamen could once again be accommodated in multi-bed rooms. In addition, the accommodation was extended in 1950 and the gastronomy was reopened. This was the reason for the re-entry of various shipping companies who had already rented the premises of the seafaring home.
Despite the good condition of the building, the renovation and modernization works were delayed, which led to the closure of the home. The city was no longer willing to put money into the building. In 1975 the idea of the seamen’s home was finally abandoned.
From a seamen’s home to the hotel harbor Hamburg
The end of the seamen‘s home what synonymous with the beginning of today’s Hotel Hafen Hamburg. The beginning starts with the personal story of the founder and "King of St. Pauli", Willi Bartels. The former butcher was known as one of the largest real estate owners in Hamburg. In addition to 40 localities on St. Pauli, 2,000 apartments and 10 hotels, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, which is regarded as the heart of the entrepreneur.
Gisela, Willi Bartels first came across the magnificent building at the harbor and fell in love instantly. For him it was obvious: "This is going to be my new project." And so it happened.
After long negotiations with the city, the Bartels could finally take over the building and converted it into a hotel at a cost of 5.5 million marks.
Culinary Delights at the Restaurant Port
Two years later, the expansion of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg took place in the gastronomical area with the opening of the Restaurant Port.
Maritime interior in mahogany and brass, as well as an individually made buffet of planked boat tips, original from the boat builder, made the new building a real attraction with a unique flair.
Space for around 220 guests was created on 400m² including a free view over Elbe River and the harbor. The restaurant offers everything a gourmet can dream of: quality and a varied cuisine – then and now.
Hey who wants to reap must sow
Only a few years after the opening of the hotel, Willi Bartels took over the east wing of the building and extended it to even more guests. Before the takeover, the side wing is used as a nurses’ dormitory for a long time. With the acquisition of the building, the hotel got expanded and the number of sleeping possibilities increased by 320 beds.
Sightseeing from a bird’s eye perspective: Construction of the tower building
The tower building was constructed in order to create a connection between the two wings. Willi Bartels personally supervised from the beginning until the end.
The goal of combining both building complexes is a time consuming and costly project. Due to the historical structure of the building, it has been approved and approved by the responsible authorities.
Willi Bartels, together with the Chief Building Director, to build a tower as a useful link:
"When he decides to do something, his handshake is his thing", says the chief building director about his former business partner. He goes on to describe Willi Bartels as a "real Hanseat" as "generous and passionate".
A total of around 13 million marks were invested in the construction of the building, which was not a bargain, but it was not meant to be! With its opening in 1987, not only more hotel rooms, but also conference rooms and today’s popular Tower Bar were built. At a height of 62m, delicious cocktails and a 360 ° panoramic view could be enjoyed from now on. At that time, the Tower Bar was the only bar of its kind, right on the Elbe River with a view of the harbor and the city.
The Hotel Res >
Bartels still not was satisfied. Therefore, he thought about using the free space on the hotel grounds of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg in order to build a new hotel, the Residenz Hafen Hamburg.
Willi and Gisela Bartels had an investment volume of around 30 million marks for the new project on an area of 7900m². The new building created additional space for 115 double rooms and thus totaled the total contingent to 670 beds. In addition, the range of conference and event rooms was expanded. Due to their location and their views, the so called "ellipses" have become popular for events and conferences of all kinds.
A new year, a new hotel floor
Well prepared for a new millennium – for the 20th anniversary of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, which was the year of Willi Bartels’ 85th birthday and the start of a new millenium, Willi Bartels made the hotel and himself a present – a new floor, a new event room called “Elbkuppel”. The new room was used as an event space offering a breathtaking view across Hamburg.
The construction of the Elbkuppel what carried out under difficult conditions, as the building could not bear the additional weight of another floor. Therefore the 4th floor and the roof had been removed and a fourth floor had been restored and steel columns had been driven into the masonry. But the building was finished in time and the neighborhood celebrated its anniversary on 13th December 1999 with family and friends. Only 18 days later the New Year’s Eve big celebration took place in the new floor.
And even today, many celebrations and conferences are held on the 290m² Elbe Dome next to New Year‘s Eve. With its size and its unique view over the Elbe, the room enjoys great popularity.
4 * stars for Hotel Hafen Hamburg
In 2000 the Hotel Hafen Hamburg was able to convince, next to its guests, ie the responsible jury of the DEHOGA Federal Association due to its equipment and high quality. Since then it has been classified with four stars – just like the neighboring hotel, the Residenz Hafen Hamburg.
From then on, both hotels, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg and the Residenz Hafen Hamburg, received a 4-star classification and thus a uniform standard. Because of this, it did not take long to come up with the same room and a similar design. The entire hotel now under the name “Hotel Hafen Hamburg”, while the name "residence", descriptive of the building complex, has remained the same until now.
Since then it has been regarded as one of the best hotels in Germany. Over the years, the average occupancy rate is still around 90%.
Willi Bartels could not be more proud, but he was down-to-earth and served guests as follows: "We keep telling our team: the customer is not king, but welcome. People should just feel at home while staying with us."
Willi Bartels has always followed this philosophy during his lifetime, so that even today hospitality and well-being are still in the focus for guests and employees.
Willi Bartel’s final project
Willi Bartels did not want to settle down – moreover he wanted to put his heart and soul into a fresh project. In 2007 he was building the Empire Riverside Hotel in the direct neighborhood of the Hotel Hafen Hamburg.
The design and lifestyle hotel is located close to the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. With its modern and puristic decor, the Empire Riverside Hotel does not compete with the traditional 4-star hotel – moreover, the hotels have benefited from each other ever since.
In loving memories of the King of St. Pauli
The Empire Riverside Hotel, Willi Bartels died and left a gap, not only on the family side, but also in his beloved neighborhood, St. Pauli.
But, Willi Bartels is not happy with his death, thanks to his grandchildren and long-standing employees at the Hotel Hafen Hamburg. His spirit is omnipresent and can still be felt in the company, especially in the bar of the hotel where you can find a bust of him.
Burger instead of piano: Opening of the harbor diner
Even after the death of Willi Bartels, the hotel is constantly developing. The gastronomic offer got extended by a Burger restaurant with a unique hanseatic american touch. The former piano bar has been completely renovated and got a new and fresh design.
Since 2015, freshly prepared burgers with organic high quality meat can be enjoyed at the harbor diner. In addition to classic burgers, guests also want to find a variety of seasonal and vegetarian meals as well as refreshing cocktails and fruity milkshakes.
The new Tower Bar
In autumn 2015 the Tower Bar got a complete new look. The interior has changed to a stylish and modern bar without losing its charm and cosiness. Around 70 different cocktail creations as well as a breathtaking view arcoss Hamburg invites visitors to relax or celebrate.
BBQ with a view
In June 2019 the summer terrace opened in the residence building and now serves as an additional event room and barbecue spot for Hamburg lovers and friends of good food. With a fantastic view over Hamburg’s most important sights, it’s a wonderful place to eat, watch and celebrate until late in the evening.
For a long time the terrace remains unused, a wasted space that offers such a wonderful view! The project starts in the middle of the year. The free area has been renovated, furnished and planned at a cost of about € 60,000. From now on, the terrace can only be rented from up to 20 people. Three different barbecue packages offering a varied gastronomic offer, fresh drinks and good food. Nevertheless, the highlight of this whole event is still the fantastic view!
Exploring new horizons
We are constantly working to improve the quality of our service.
Our next big project is coming up in March 2020: The Restaurant Port is getting a new face! Be surprised!
We are excited and looking forward to another 40 years and to create even more beautiful moments together with you! Based on the words of Willi Bartels ("For us the customer is not king, he is welcome"):
Welcome to the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, welcome home!
Write your own history
The report – 40 years of Hotel Hafen Hamburg
In 2019 the Hotel Hafen Hamburg celebrates its 40th anniversary. The German TV channel NDR took this as an opportunity to shoot a report. Experience insights behind the scenes and into the eventful history of the hotel.
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