Empire Riverside Hotel

St Pauli
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Given the rather colorful reputation of Hamburg’s St. Pauli district—long a harborside pit stop for visiting sailors, and home to the infamous Reeperbahn—a sleek modernist tower might not be exactly what you expect from one of the area’s hippest new hotels. But that’s exactly what the Empire Riverside Hotel is: a striking 20-story new build just off the banks of the Elbe, designed by the British architect David Chipperfield.

It’s part of the rehabilitation and modernization of this once-seedy quarter, and it’s a fine start. The rooms are intended for business and leisure travelers alike, and they’re smart and contemporary while still remaining sober — nothing flashy, nothing edgy, just simple clean lines and well-framed views of the river, the waterfront, or the city’s rooftops, and well-equipped bathrooms in monochrome mosaic tile.

This up-and-coming district is attracting a new crowd, many of whom gather at the Empire’s top-floor cocktail lounge for drinks with a bird’s-eye view of this low-rise city. And from here you can walk to all manner of destinations in St. Pauli, from the insalubrious charms of the notorious red-light district to the booming nightlife and restaurant scene in the more upscale corners of this gentrifying neighborhood.

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