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Sir Nikolai: Canal-Side Charm in Hamburg

I know I’m going to get on with Sir Nikolai when I spot the glossy in-house bookazine in the reception lobby, ‘+1’. So chic it rivals the coffee table books and so cool it comes in not one but three covers to suit your aesthetic. I’m hooked.

Sir Nikolai’s slick take on editorial matches the vibe throughout the hotel. In place of the traditional ‘reception desk’, you’re kindly requested to chill out on velvet couches with a glass of champagne (served in cut crystal coupe) while the check-in process comes to you. I like this kind of check-in, a lot.

Situated on Hamburg’s Nikolaifleet, Sir Nikolai’s waterside location gives you a front row seat of the charming canals and historic churches. If you can tear yourself away from the lobby’s plush couches, take your check-in champagne onto the terrace to take in the view.

Sir Nikolai is how you do Hamburg in style…

Adopt a dressy-casual vibe for a stay at Sir Nikolai, with this what to pack edit.


Located between Altstadt and HafenCity on Nikolaifleet, one of Hamburg’s oldest canals, Sir Nikolai has a seriously sophisticated interior to match up to its premium waterside location. While the hotel is achingly chic, the vibe is both relaxed and a little bit tongue-in-cheek – room key cards read: ‘If you get lost physically, try Google Maps. If you get lost existentially, read Kant’ that make you grin on your way to your room.

Art not only graces the bedroom walls, but the external walls, too. Last year Sir Nikolai commissioned artist Steve Tepas to create a giant, signature blunt-line mural on the feature wall of the interior courtyard that’s visible when you glance up from the central glass atrium. As the buzzy heart of the hotel, it’s major monochrome eye candy as you’re eating your sushi rolls.


If there’s a secret to finding the balance between cool but homely, Sir Nikolai has nailed the hotel formula. The 94 guest rooms make it feel cosy (but not too cosy) and every room from the standard Sir Boutique to the Sir Residence pièce de résistance contains custom-made furniture that make you want to redesign your own home.

It’s all in the detail – a mini gallery wall above the bed, vintage-look multicoloured rugs, curated books from local writers, and cool lighting just about everywhere you look. Other impressive touches include a bedside Marshall speaker, Illy espresso machine and curated minibar sitting pretty on a shiny brass drinks trolley. Everything is done a little differently to your average boutique hotel – instead of a traditional white bathrobe, Sir Nikolai’s signature robe is a surprisingly cosy blue denim.


Integral to Sir Nikolai is Izakaya, aka the bustling Japanese-Peruvian restaurant within the hotel – so popular it has an opulent public corridor that means diners can enter through a separate entrance so hotel guests can remain completely undisturbed – clever.

A Hamburg culinary hotspot, Izakaya takes Japanese grill dining and gives it a South American influence – specialities include spicy Peruvian tuna on chips and Chilean sea bass tempura. I’m given an insider tip from the head waiter that the Izakaya bento boxes are the big hit at lunchtime. Streaming with natural light, Izakaya is also where the delicious hotel breakfasts are served overlooking the canal. Think traditional cereals served in little brown paper bags cinched with pegs (the chicest Special K I’ve ever seen) and cooked-to-order eggs, pancakes and smashed avo on sourdough that all come with an Izakaya twist.


Want a Hamburg to-do list that gives you more than the average itinerary? Sir Nikolai has your city visited sorted via Sir Explore, a service that links up its hotels guests with local hosts that they love and recommend. Here’s Sir Nikolai’s take on curated experiences to try while you’re in Hamburg:

SCHNITZEL CHEF SECRETS: You can’t visit Hamburg and not try a famed schnitzel (vegetarians excluded!). Learn the insider tricks from Austrian chef Alexander Tschebull in the buzzy kitchen of his namesake restaurant.
Info: €30 per person for 1 hour (2-10 participants).

STREET MURAL CYCLE: Discover Hamburg’s urban art scene with a tour from one of the city’s leading curators, Robert Neuendorf. Like a moving visual feast – experienced on bikes – you’ll cycle from one street mural masterpiece to the next.
Info: €170 per tour for 2 hours (1-20 participants).

PARK PLANT LIFE: Hamburg’s green scene is not to be missed. Go on a scenic ramble through Hamburg’s beautiful parks with naturopath-in-the-know, Emma. She’ll point out which plants can have a healing effect.
Info: €115 per tour for 1.5 hours (1-8 participants).

HAMBURG FROM ABOVE: Take an unforgettable panorama flight in your choice of air vessel, like the Breezer B4000 (a German classic), that gives you a bird’s eye view of Hamburg. The route can be tailored to fit in your sight-seeing requests.
Info: From €75 per person for 2 hours (1-3 participants).

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