Last week I had the opportunity to enjoy a special treat — an all expenses paid trip to Hamburg, Germany courtesy of German publishing house Gruner & Jahr. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to reveal the details of this business trip or the names of those with whom I met, so I’ll focus more on the details you care about – the shopping, eating, and where we stayed!
If you are not familiar with Gruner & Jahr, they are the publishers of many magazines including the popular home titles Living At Home, H?user, Flora Garten, and SCHOENER WOHNEN (a magazine I’ve been reading since 1999). They also publish Dogs (which I love, it’s unlike any American title I’ve ever seen) and Brigitte (fashion).
Our day began with a high speed train to Hamburg, which took only one hour from where I live here and the weather was absolutely beautiful so we were able to really enjoy the views of the countryside, including part of the L?neburger Heide which I find so relaxing to travel through.
Once in Hamburg, we checked into the hotel arranged for us by the dear Peggy at G&J, who was the most lovely lady and who was responsible for inviting me up in the first place. She really loves decor8 and is a big fan, and we have been talking online for a few months before officially meeting in person. Our hotel was gorgeous with breathtaking views of Hamburg as you can see from the photos that I took in our room on the 18th floor shown below. If you ever visit Hamburg, I highly suggest the Empire Riverside Hotel. It directly faces the port — such a great area!
After checking in and freshening up, we met with Peggy in the lobby and we proceeded to walk over to the G&J offices. That is where we had a mini tour, including their in-house test kitchen where she explained that chefs who work for the magazine ‘test’ the food on G&J employees several times via their cafeteria and if the recipe has continued success with employees, it will be published in one of their magazines.
G&J offices in Hamburg, at least a view of one building. They were modeled after a boat, I’m guessing a cruise ship because many of the offices had portholes as windows and the hallways were very narrow and long.
I also met several talented people, some with names I was familiar with, others not… But I was absolutely excited to meet Thomas Niederste-Werbeck, Founder and Editor of Dogs because it’s a magazine I absolutely love and wish it had an English version because I know Americans would go crazy for it. Thomas is a charming man with an impressive magazine — I enjoy the cultural viewpoints of owning a dog in Germany and find it funny how in my country (America) we can sometimes view dogs as children, dressing them up, using them as an accessory, etc. Germans are more interested in proper care, the science behind dogs in general — what makes them tick so to speak and not so much into dogging dresses and carrying around special designer totes for them. The photography in the magazine is very emotional; the photographs are very National Geographic-like and the locations in which dogs of all breeds are photographed really takes your breath away. Truly a quality magazine, a good mixture of visual inspiration and in-depth information along with heart warming articles and the latest products for little Spot.
After meeting several people I nearly melted in my shoes when Peggy informed me that the Editor-in-Chief of Living At Home magazine, Jenny Levie, would be joining us for dinner and that she reads both of my blogs, decor8 and haus maus. I did not expect Jenny to join us, so naturally I went from confident and excited to quite nervous inside. I was beyond relieved when she entered the office to introduce herself – she is warm and vibrant. Her energy and enthusiasm was so contagious. She walks into a room and owns it; she has this ability to make people feel like a million bucks.
After chatting some more we took a cab over to East restaurant. Please add this place to your list of must-visits if you travel to Hamburg. We spent hours at East enjoying martinis, wine, dinner… It was a night to remember. My husband joined us, which was so nice of them to include Thorsten in all of this. Jenny sat next to me and we had a lot to talk about, especially about blogging and networking online. Peggy’s manager Tom and another colleague from their online division, Lars, dined with us as well.
After East, at this time it was already pretty late, Jenny and Peggy took us to the top of our hotel for a nightcap at a lounge called 20UP. It was in the ladies room where I met a girl from Boston. Funny how life is… Small world that I’d meet a Bostonian in Hamburg! The views from the top of the hotel were astounding as was the whole mood up there – the chic crowd, lighting, overall design, definitely another must-visit spot in Hamburg.
Now let’s move on and talk about day two! We met with Peggy, who had arranged to take me on a whirlwind Hamburg shopping trip. She collected the names of shops from decor8 that I have listed here and we hit as many as we could.
We started at TH2, a stylish cafe, where we had breakfast. The owners, a couple both named Thorsten (hence TH2), own a few of these cafes in Hamburg along with a gorgeous design store called TH2 White. If you visit Hamburg do not miss it. The food is great – light, fresh and healthy. We didn’t make it to their design shop though it looks equally delightful judging by the photographs on their website.
Next door was Eden Living, one of my favorite shops. Again, another spot for you to visit for sure. The style is very Scandinavian modern, lots of clean lines and mostly a black/white/gray palette with touches of lilac and green. The look is very upscale but not fussy. Lots of Germans refer to this style (that we Americans refer to as Swedish) as “New Englander” style. It’s this cozy style with lots of layers and warmth, linens, modern clean lines, a little country charm, and lots of neutral colors. Whenever I read about the “New Englander” style in German magazines I have to laugh because New Hampshire, where I live, is in New England and I never thought that we had a specific style envied and even referred to as a ‘trend’ in Europe. I’ve even read about it in some Swedish and Danish magazines.
After TH2 and Eden Living we hit a whole slew of shops. I swear, it was a whirlwind and we were so busy chatting and trying to locate places that I didn’t have time to pause and really photograph storefronts. However I’ll list at the bottom of this post all of the shops we hit in case you are interested, and what can be found in each. And on Tuesday I will show you an independent design store called Milchmaedchen Design that we visited so you can tour it with me and learn more about the owner, Irina, and see all the beautiful things that she sells up close and personal.
I’d like to thank Peggy (you’re the best!) and Jenny (I’m still trying to overcome the feeling of being star struck), along with Thomas, Lars, and Tom for a lovely opportunity. It was my first official introduction to business in Germany and while I was nervous I feel as though we had a nice time and the door was opened to hopefully work on future projects together.
Some shops I visited in Hamburg:
Charlotta’s – Lots of Amy Butler fabric, patterns in English, Amy Butler books, and fabric from all over the world, lots from America. The shop owner, Karin Fuchs, is a delight and her store is stocked with beautiful things.
Herzallerliebst (They have another shop in Hannover called Dear Lilly where I shop regularly).
Viola’s – Great shop for all things kitchen, esp. fine spices and herbs.
Flamant – Peggy’s favorite store. They have an exclusive paint collection with gorgeous earthy hues, all displayed in the various ‘rooms’ throughout this massive 3 level showroom located downtown (around the corner from Habitat). They even have a cafe where we enjoyed lunch.
Craft2EU – A shop with high-end arts and crafts.
Milchm?dchen Design – Which I’ll tell you more about on Monday, so stay tuned!
See you all on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday), have a great weekend!
Boston: Apply for the Prudential Center Artisan Market!