It makes sense that Hamburg, which many consider the true capital of German style, is also on the cutting edge of hotel design. In fact, the Design Hotels group, an alliance of more than 100 of the chicest places to stay around the world, has opened three new addresses in Hamburg with a fourth on the way. Near all the best shopping in the city center is Side, which, like the city itself, has a stark gray facade concealing an offbeat, colorful interior. Matteo Thun designed the hotel's whimsical podlike furniture and mosaic-tiled spa, and in the penthouse suites, he matched the espresso machines to the Philippe Starck bathtubs. Theater director Robert Wilson orchestrated the light show in the cavernous lobby. There's an altogether different sort of show going on in the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's red-light district; in recent years it has become one of the city's style centers, a mix of erotic boutiques, hip bars, and experimental restaurants. Porsches make their way here, to boîtes like IndoChine, the Michelin one-star Tafelhaus, and the nearby Gastwerk, a German version of The Mercer in Manhattan. Once a gas plant, the hotel is today (the steam tower intact) a sleek brick building filled with Chinese statues, lit candles, big rooms with flat-screen TVs, a young but seasoned staff, and a buzzing Italian restaurant. It also has a sister hotel across the street: 25hours, where the vibe—and the clientele—is 15 years younger. Around the corner from the Reeperbahn, in the Ottsensen Harbor district (which is seeing a renaissance of its own), will be East. Opening next month in a former iron foundry, the hotel has 78 rooms and an Asian restaurant and cocktail lounge, all designed in sixties-mod style by Jordan Mozer. Side: rates, $220-$865; 49 Drehbahn. Gastwerk: rates, $150-$435; 3 Beim Alten Gastwerk. 25hours: rates, $70-$130; 2 Paul-Dessau-Strasse. East: rates, $165-$360; 31 Simon-von-Utrecth Strasse. Design Hotels, 800-337-4685; www.designhotels.com.
Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.