Spa-Hopping in Hamburg, Germany
By Erin Donnelly
With its idyllic lakes and rivers, ubiquitous church spires, and well-manicured buildings, the port city of Hamburg, Germany is one of Europe’s most beautiful treasures (and in Europe, that’s saying a lot). But this gorgeous city has more than just museums and cathedrals going for it; it’s also home to some truly exciting beauty destinations that will give your vacation a gorgeous spin. Just look at what some Hamburg-style primping did for the Beatles, who got their moptop haircuts here.
Be sure to add these spas and salons to your travel itinerary:
You’ve been slathering yourself in Nivea creams for as long as you can remember, but did you know that the German brand has been around since 1911? Talk about an oldie but goodie. Fans of the classic and always dependable brand can visit this flagship boutique to stock up on those beloved lotions and face creams, plus Nivea spin-offs you can’t find in the States—turns out they also make products for hair, nails, and makeup too. This bright, open space also houses Nivea’s über-popular spa and salon, and by ‘über-popular’ we mean ‘call well in advance to book an appointment or you can kiss that spa treatment auf wiedersehen.’ The upstairs space, which looks out onto the Alster, includes an area for nail treatments and tranquil treatment rooms inspired by the sky. Downstairs, a subterranean spa area boasts dreamy water-themed rooms that all but lull you to sleep. All services—from massages to hydrotherapy treatments—use Nivea products, and the spa stays open until 9pm, giving you ample opportunity to pamper yourself. Jungfernstieg 5; Tel 040/82 22 47 40
Forget Sally Hershberger, or John Barrett, or any other A-list hairstylist you may have been worshipping. In Germany, Marlies Möller is the queen of the cut. Möller opened her first salon in 1962 and now has luxury salons throughout the country (and Spain), including this jaw-droppingly exquisite space located on Hamburg’s tony Neuer Wall district. Clients are greeted with a well-edited boutique area selling Möller’s own line of hair products and signature wooden brushes, June Ainscough’s magnificent tortoiseshell combs, caftans, glassware, and more. The ground floor also houses two roomy areas where stylists can work their magic—one an airy, gleaming white space, and the second a more intimate and hipper black-walled den. But it’s the upstairs styling space that will take your breath away, thanks to its exotic, African-accented décor—think glossy wood details, black walls and floors, animal prints, and styling stations that could double as desks in your fantasy dream house. If you’re in the mood for some below-the-neck servicing, head to the basement spa for treatments that use La Prairie products in a stunning room trimmed in gorgeous pale wood. Hip, indulgent, and just plain beautiful, this salon is a necessary splurge whether you have split ends or not. Neuer Wall 61, Tel 040/44 40 04 26
You don’t have to be a guest of the Steigenberger Hotel to take advantage of its lush beauty and wellness offerings, but don’t be shocked if you find yourself handing the hotel clerk your credit card after getting a glimpse of its impeccable five-star accommodations. Twenty-five euros will get you a day pass to the fitness center that is otherwise free for guests. Considering that the workout space—packed with treadmills, Pilates machines, and a state-of-the-art gyrating gadget called the ProVib—offers panoramic views of both the Alster and Elbe and the Hamburg city center, it’s definitely worth the investment. Follow up your sweat session with a visit to the hotel’s Spa World luxury day spa, where a colorful, Feng Shui-inspired design and Ayurvedic treatments merge to create a serene, worldly sanctuary. The spa offers a full menu of services, including holistic massages (including one performed on a water bed), facials using ingredients from Asia and the Caribbean, indulgent body packs, nail care, makeup, and waxing. Post-treatment, sneak in some ‘me time’ in the tranquil Relax Lounge, where a trickling fountain and a meditative environment await. On your way out, stock up on some beauty goodies from Ligne St. Barthe, Organic Pharmacy, Thalgo, Organic Glam, and more. Heiligengeistbrücke 4; Tel 49 40 3680 60
Better pack a swimsuit, because the Park Hyatt Hamburg’s massive indoors swimming pool—bordered by inviting beach chairs and an overflowing Jacuzzi that rivals some waterfalls—is too tempting to pass up. Access to the facilities is free for guests, who can also take advantage of the hotel’s luxurious confines, fine dining options, and proximity to the shopping mall; non-guests can buy a day pass for 45 euros. The spa and salon space has a cool, almost masculine vibe thanks to its steely gray walls—one immediately recalls the art deco style of the Chrysler Building. An expansive selection of massages—deep-tissue, Tui-Na, aromatherapy, etc.—will help you unwind, with skin treatments for the face and body (which use Decleor products exclusively) are also on offer. Bugenhagenstraße 8; Tel 040/33 32 12 34
Stay: The Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg, opened in 1909, counts Luciano Pavarotti, Madonna, and Pierce Brosnan (who filmed parts of Tomorrow Never Dies here) as former guests. Other highlights include a private screening room, breathtaking views of the Alster, courtyard dining, and the sleek and modern James Bond Suite. The Hamburg Marriott, conveniently located within walking distance to the town hall and the Neuer Wall, also provides comfortable, upscale accommodations.
Eat: If you’re planning on touring the city’s notorious Reeperbahn nightlife district, start with a stomach-lining meal of juicy white asparagus at Jolie. The upscale Broscheks restaurant at the Renaissance Hotel Hamburg is also renown for its mouthwatering cuisine; order the fish.
Visit: The BallinStadt Emigration Museum-the former point of departure for many Europeans traveling on to Ellis Island-offers a fascinating snapshot of immigrant life, and is a must-see for visitors of German descent. The just-opened International Maritime Museum houses the world’s largest collection of maritime objects in a 10-level space modeled after a ship. Visitors will also want to stop by the famous fish market on Sunday mornings, followed by a relaxing trip to the scenic Alster lake, where joggers, sail boats, and families at play congregate. A day trip to the nearby village of Lüneberg provides a captivating look at medieval Germany, complete with quirky architecture, cathedrals galore, and, naturally, a good old German bierhaus or two. Finally, Beatles buffs-who should know that Hamburg is where the Fab Four cut their musical teeth pre-Ed Sullivan-will love singer/songwriter Stefanie Hempel’s (firstname.lastname@example.org) whimsical Beatles tour of the Reeperbahn. Hempel leads visitors to the legendary clubs where the Liverpool lads played for two years (including Beatles Square, set to open in September ’08), breaking up the tour with Beatles tunes played on her ukulele. What’s not to love?
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