Homey, happening and yes, you've guessed it, just a little bit hipster – Henri Hotel is almost as cool as Hamburg itself. Despite having all the comforting trimmings expected of an on-point boutique hotel, what gives Henri the edge is its apartment-like feel, which will have you feeling right at home from the get go.
Situated slap bang in the middle of downtown in Hamburg's traditional Kontor office quarter, and a stone's throw away from the main station, Henri Hotel is the perfect base for solo travellers because, quite simply, it's not that far away from anywhere you're likely to want to explore. With gentrified hotspot Hafencity on the one side, and traditional Rathausmarkt on the other, you can be forgiven if at first you don't wander very far from the Henri's immediate environs because there's plenty to keep you busy for a while.
Back to inside Henri's four walls though, it's clear that this hotel has absorbed the laid-back attitude of the city itself: there is no lobby and reception, per se, but rather, a large kitchen and living room complete with a bar-cum-check-in area. It's a welcome change and one which immediately strips back the stuffiness associated with the usual hotel arrival experience – this is a part of the hotel which you'll want to return to even after you've dropped your belongings in your room and starfished on your bed.
The combination of inviting funky furniture, a bar with a slick cocktail list and a kitchen stocked with a wide array of drinks and snacks, is a winning one for sure (more on the snack situation later). The fact that it's kept "for residents only!"also makes it that little bit more welcoming for solos, because you're more likely to mix with other Henri 'residents' scattered around the room than perhaps you would be if it were a usual lobby filled with rapid, anonymous coming and goings. Henri actively encourages mingling and a community feel with its free "Abendbrød" from 7-9pm every evening, which consists of light supper nibbles. There are also some heartier options on offer too, which can also be enjoyed for a small additional fee.
Before moving on to the rooms, I promised a word on the unconventionally wonderful snack set-up at Henri. For foodies it's bound to be a delight: Henri does away with the boring, overpriced, in-room mini-fridge foods of yesteryear and instead, serves up snacks in abundance 24/7 in its kitchen area. There's everything the midnight muncher could ever need – a fridge filled with local alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, hot drinks galore, sweet and savoury snacks from trendy and local brands and large platters for those with a more extensive hunger to satisfy. Guests are encouraged to use the kitchen as if it were their own: they can pick something from the selection and depending on what they prefer, either eat it there in the lounge or take it up to their room. Or, they can simply grab some crockery and utensils to take up to their room to prepare a little snack up up there with food items they already bought. Henri operates an honesty policy, so guest are just kindly asked to note down what they take over the course of their stay and then pay upon check-out (it's so refreshing to be treated like a grown-up who isn't going to steal the hangers out of the wardrobe!)
And all that is without even taking breakfast into consideration which, by the way, is pretty awesome too. There's enough of a selection to keep everyone satisfied, without being overwhelming. My top tip? Opt for the scrambled eggs – they truly are posh-brunch restaurant-quality.
Now to the rooms themselves, or should that be apartments? Three studios are available, M, L and XL, and all are more than spacious enough for a solo stay. I opted for the L Studio and it didn't disappoint (in fact, it may nearly have been as big as my Munich apartment). Henri's studios are super hygge – the only dilemma you'll have upon opening the door will be whether to immediately jump onto the inviting big bed or curl up with a warm drink in one of the cosy, cool chairs.
Hotels these days neglect the idea of in-room coffee and tea facilities, but thankfully not Henri, so those in need of a cuppa first thing before they face the rest of the world are well catered for. The 'in-room' bathroom is well on-trend, with a spacious wet-room shower to wash away the day's exploring. The table and chairs are also a welcome addition for any solos who prefer to dine-in in the evenings. What's truly striking about Henri's studios though, is the silence – despite the downtown location you could hear a pin drop, so a good night's sleep is guaranteed.
On the top floor and in the basement of the hotel are Henri's two hidden secrets. Number one, down below, is a well-equipped gym for those who like to keep in shape during their solo travel adventures. The other secret? Well, it's a little spa stashed away on the top floor, which has sweeping views over the city . For a few extra euros guests can kick back and relax in the sauna and steam room after a hard day's sightseeing. A pretty nice addition, no?
With prices starting at 98 Euros for an M studio, Henri Hotel is truly a steal for the solo traveller in search of a stylish stay in Hamburg. And if in the end you start to feel so at home that you never want to leave, then you don't have to – Henri welcomes long-stay guests to curl up (perhaps with a Franzbrötchen) in its redbrick walls and stay a while, however long that 'while' may be.
•Disclosure: my stay at Henri was partially 'comp'. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way (i.e. if it was rubbish, don't worry, I'd tell you).