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My Hamburg Trip

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.

Part of the Hamburg train station.

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!



Part of our large bathroom… I liked the tile work and the shelving below the sink and I appreciated the streamlined design of this space. Stunning.

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.

This is Jenny Levie, Editor-in-Chief of Living At Home magazine in Germany. I was feeling a bit shy about asking her if I could take her photograph, so this will have to do!

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.



TH2 cafe.

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:
Eden Living
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.
Habitat
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!

xo,

Holly

Posted by decor8 in shopping, travel on August 29, 2008

Your comments...

  1. Christine commented
    August 29th, 2008 at 1:36pm

    Wow Holly, this looks like an amazing trip! I always wish I had my own shopping tour guide when i go to a new city! Lucky you!

    Christines last blog post: The Story of a Tragedy

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  2. Melissa de la Fuente commented
    August 29th, 2008 at 1:42pm

    Sounds like you had such a great time! Those shops look lovely and I love it when folks who could be intimidating turn out to be warm and nice. Wonderful!
    xo
    Melissa

    Melissa de la Fuentes last blog post: Ellie

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  3. Dina commented
    August 29th, 2008 at 2:06pm

    Holly, I’m so glad you had a good time in Hamburg! My husband Kai, is from Hamburg, and we visit his family every year, so I’m excited to have a new list of places to visit next time I’m there. I love the G&J building, it is meant to resemble a cruise ship, its location along the waterfront is divine.

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  4. Jean commented
    August 29th, 2008 at 7:00pm

    Wonderful post.

    As the weeks and months progress, I’d like to hear about “German” interior decoration – what makes it unique to the country, what common design currents run through the country? It occurred to me recently that unlike Scandanavia, or even the UK, there doesn’t seem to be a style of interior decoration that Americans think of as “German” (well, there’s the stuff you see in Gorsuch catalog that is Bavarian/Austrian). Of course that probably has something to do with the fact that German was a collection of regions, rather than a country, less than 150 years ago. I’m planning a trip to Southern Germany next summer, where I know the style is different than your neck of the woods but I don’t know any specifics, and I’m in the process of trying to soak up everything I can about Germany.

    Having lived in Boston (now in Seattle) I find the mention of New Englander style humorous. For me, that style is largely defined by the Shakers!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  5. Marianne commented
    August 30th, 2008 at 3:52am

    It seems that you had a great time. I am looking forward to your next post.

    Mariannes last blog post: Going, going, gone…..

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  6. ruth commented
    August 30th, 2008 at 4:06am

    Everything looks lovely! Pack me in your suitcase the next time you go!

    ruths last blog post: Heather

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  7. Sunny Bower Art Studio commented
    August 30th, 2008 at 6:21am

    This was wonderful reading! Thank you for sharing (and what a gorgeous train station!).

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  8. Lauren commented
    August 30th, 2008 at 6:45pm

    What a wonderful trip! I used to work for G&J when they were here in the US, publishing a bunch of magazines before they sold them all. NIce to see the company and the German mags they still publish. Good luck to you…I hope something great comes from your trip.

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  9. Abby W commented
    August 30th, 2008 at 9:25pm

    Wow! I’m totally jealous! Sounds like you had a fabulous trip. To begin with, that hotel room is absolutely stunning. And all the restaurants/bars look truly exquisite. You’ve done a great job describing everying, too. Hamburg is now on my “list”, for sure!
    Abby
    http://holycraft.blogspot.com
    http://holycraft.etsy.com

    Abby Ws last blog post: Customizable Wooden Blocks – Amy Butler's Lotus Tea Box

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  10. house decor commented
    August 31st, 2008 at 2:17am

    Great post, sounds like you had an amazing time. good work.

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  11. Kischa commented
    August 31st, 2008 at 2:28am

    Wow Holly, your post made me so excited! Living at home is one of my fav. magazins and its so great that you meet the people behind it.
    I also like all the shops you listed and I am glad that you enjoyed your time here in Hamburg!

    Kischas last blog post: (Untitled)

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  12. Laura commented
    August 31st, 2008 at 10:57am

    What a fantastic trip! Your hotle looks super swanky, and I wonder what you were doing with those folks at Gruner & Jahr, I can’t wait to hear more :)

    Lauras last blog post: A little snippit

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  13. Dolly commented
    August 31st, 2008 at 6:24pm

    Hi Holly, I found your blog on friday by accident when looking for “Hamburg photos” at flickr and came across the ones belonging to this blog. I’ve been curious who would post photos of a stack of Gruner & Jahr magazines and of their building to flickr just because I’m working very close to it and it’s somewhat familiar to me. I’ve been so delighted when I found that there are hiding lots and lots of great decoratin photos behind what I clicked just out of curiosity. I am kind of a decoration magazin junkie and this discovery was like christmas. I spent lots of time at the weekend to browse your photos and your blogs and just want to thank you for giving me so much inspiration. I have few days off work right now and will start some redacoration tomorrow. Thanks a lot!!!

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  14. samantha hahn commented
    August 31st, 2008 at 7:26pm

    Wow Holly, congrats! I can’t wait to hear more details. The pictures are lovely. I think I need to go visit Hamburg.
    XO,
    Sam

    samantha hahns last blog post: Design*Sponge posted my patterns & Shiny Squirrel shop is carrying some exclusive prints!+ some tiny treasures.

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  15. Kara commented
    September 1st, 2008 at 7:01am

    Empire Riverside Hotel looks gorgeous!!!

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  16. JENNIFER RAMOS commented
    September 1st, 2008 at 8:59pm

    HI Holly,

    so jealous you get to be in Germany…its on my list of places to visit. Thanks for all the info thus far….its quite nice to see! : )
    Hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend.

    Jen Ramos
    ’100% Recycled DESIGNER Cards & More’
    http://www.madebygirl.com
    madebygirl.blogspot.com

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  17. collette commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 10:14pm

    What an amazing opportunity.
    I couldn’t help but comment about dogs and the one thing I absolutely loved, loved, loved about owning a dog and living in Germany. Germans get it! I’m a huge dog lover and I took my dog (Shepard-mix) everywhere with me in Germany. Including restaurants on a regular basis. I wish it was universally accepted.

    collettes last blog post: It Pays To Be Nice

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  18. Suzie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 8:35am

    WOW WOW WOW!
    Holly!
    G&J is big!
    Sounds like a great opportunity!
    Congratulations!!

    Suzies last blog post: Back from Italy

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