For my wife’s birthday this year, I took her to the Empire Riverside Hotel in Hamburg, Germany. Normally, I would have cheapskated my way out of this and booked an Airbnb or something, but not this time; I wanted to pamper my wife. Pamper her like a drooling toddler.
The Empire Riverside Hotel is a huge building, jutting out from the Hamburg cityscape like an L-shaped Tetris block. (“For the love of god, why won’t you just give me a straight piece?”) If you book a room on the south side, you’ll have an awesome view of the Elbe River and the Hamburg Harbor. If you book a room on the north side, you’ll have an awesome view of the Reeperbahn, some feisty prostitutes and a bunch of dildo shops. The rooms on the east and west sides have views of both, so you can fill your gaze with maritime sentiment, or catch an eyeful of titty. Either way, you win.
For reasons I will never truly understand, my wife loves Hamburg. She even loves the shipping dock, with its endless horizon of container cranes. (Personally, I find shipping docks ugly and unnerving. I mean, they’re filled with giant robots designed specifically to pick up heavy things and maybe — if they feel like it — drop that shit right on your head.) Anyway, my wife and I would typically spend our time in Hamburg strolling along the river or drinking brew doggies on the Elbstrand, but not this time: We just couldn’t leave our badass accommodations.
With the exception of a quick boat tour around the harbor, called a Hafenrundfahrt (Tee hee! I said “fart.”), we spent the entire time inside the Empire Riverside Hotel. The rooms are super sleek and modern, and the windows go all the way from the floor to the ceiling — so you really get that, “I could totally fall out of this window” feeling. Also, the Wi-Fi actually works, which is surprisingly rare in the hotel industry, even though fast, free, internet access is a God-given right and should be available in every corner of the globe. (It says so in the Bible.)
There’s a very cool lounge on the ground floor called David’s, which offers renowned sushi so expensive it’ll shrink your tuna roll. One floor above is the Waterkant restaurant, where you can easily drop a couple benjamins on dinner for two. And then there’s the bar way up on the 20th floor called, unsurprisingly, Skyline Bar 20up. Everything about the hotel is cool, but by far our favorite part was the spa. It’s not huge or anything, but it is complete; there’s a sauna, steam bath, relaxation room and a gym — you know, for people who like to work out and make the rest of us feel guilty for sitting around all day in fluffy white hotel robes. They also have two foot baths and a full-body submersion pool to help you cool off after you come out of the sauna. And here’s the thing: My wife and I were there mid-week, so we had the whole spa to ourselves! (Everyone else was at work, earning money and paying their taxes on time. Suckers.)
Now, I’ve never been a tremendous fan of saunas — 5 minutes inside of one makes me feel like a hamster in a microwave — but I have been slowly learning to enjoy the experience. (My record time is 11 minutes!) But I discovered I really like steam baths. The one in our hotel was super dark, with cool lights in the walls and steam so thick you could hardly see across the room. Of course my wife preferred the dry heat of the sauna — she’s a true German — but apparently hot, moist, dark places are ideal relaxation conditions for uppity American bloggers like myself.
I spent way too long in that steam bath. So long, in fact, my wife had to keep checking up on me:
THE WIFE: “Honey? Are you still alive in there?”
ME: *Hissing at her and pretending to be a vampire* “Yessss, we are alive, but the light burns our skin. Close the door, fair maiden, or come inside and stay — stay forever.”
Once I got to the point where I was about to pass out, I would run from the steam room and jump into the cooling pool. The water was ice-cold, which made my heart pound dangerously hard. Then I would go back inside the steam room and do it all over again. I did this so many times the tiny construction workers inside my body were terrified: “We’re in the Congo! Cool this mother down! Oh shit, now we’re in the Arctic! Heat it back up! Oh no, now we’re back in the — hey, wait a minute…”
Thankfully I’m still relatively young, so my heart didn’t stop, but eventually I decided to join my wife in the relaxation room — where the sane people were. We spent the remainder of the day reading and napping in absolute tranquility. It was glorious.
Clearly my wife and I had an awesome time at this hotel. The prices blew my wallet up like a hobo with a hand grenade, but still, I am compelled to award the Empire Riverside Hotel with a triumphant 5 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:
Oh, and here are some pictures I took during our trip. Click one to start the slideshow. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!