Despite an ever-increasing range of luxuries available, or maybe because of it, it's sometimes hard to feel truly relaxed and pampered in city hotels today.
In between trying to ensure you've got WiFi from the second you check in, to flicking through the iPad menus at restaurants and fiddling around with the hi-tech TV/light/surround sound entertainment system in your room, you forget to stop and take it all in.
Which is why the Hotel Louis C. Jacob came as such a breath of fresh air - ensconced as it is in one of Hamburg's greenest and most tranquil spots along the mansion-lined Elbechaussee in the city's beautiful Blankenese district.
Old-school, formal service may be considered a bit old-fashioned these days, but it felt like a real treat to wake up to a delicious silver-service breakfast overlooking the River Elbe and go to bed after pouring myself a night cap of sherry thoughtfully left in a crystal carafe in my room.
In fact everything about the Hotel Louis C. Jacob - from its cool and elegantly classic decor, to its green inner courtyard spaces and the stunning Lime Tree Terrace, made famous by German Impressionist Max Liebermann (who was once a long-time resident of this gorgeous hotel) felt like just that - a real treat.
Even if I had been here on business I think the calm atmosphere and green-leaved views out of my window would have only served to heighten my ability to concentrate.
The main reason for visiting Hotel Louis C. Jacob however, was not to work but to visit its highly acclaimed Jacob's Restaurant, which has for a long time remained under the stewardship of two Michelin-starred Chef Thomas Martin.
The ever-smiling Martin is known for his produce-centric approach and ability to coax intense flavours from a classic pantry, making his French-inspired cuisine distinctly contemporary. The lobster cream soup perfectly spiced with curry and lemongrass with which I started my meal was probably the most successful version of this well-loved dish I have ever tasted, with the exotic additions paying a fitting tribute to Hamburg's love affair with Eastern ingredients owing to its heritage as a port city.
The restaurant offers two menus - the Jacob menu and the Thomas Martin menu and you have the flexibility of picking a choice of 5 or 6 courses from either. We picked a selection of dishes from both menus with equal success - choosing a mix of richer and fresher flavours - from a moorish warm tartlet with cheese and tomato, etouffe pigeon served on a bed of cous cous and saddle of venison with fried goose liver and kohlrabi, to a silky trout served with caviar, herbs and creme fraiche, and scallops from Brittany served inventively with algae, green beans and a saffron sauce.
Dinner was accompanied by a well-selected choice of wines from the knowledgeable sommelier, including the hotel's very own Louis C. Jacob 2014 vintage, a creamy-finished Weissburgunder.
The dessert menu was intriguing for only listing the core ingredients without hinting at their manner of preparation. Of the two chosen, the passion fruit, mango and coconut dessert carried the sweet, bursting flavour of the tropics. Having picked the more conservative black berry, almond and chocolate preparation I have to admit I had a slight case of dessert envy.
Adding to the element of indulgence was a well-stocked petits fours trolley that was wheeled over to the table after dinner, stacked high with gilded truffles, bon bons and macarons that looked almost too good to eat (thankfully that feeling didn't last very long as I had already had a taste of them from the welcome platter left in my room so knew exactly what to expect!)
The dining room had a grace that is sorely missing from many fine-dining restaurants of today and far from being stuffy felt like you were truly treating yourself to a fine feast.
The hotel has a unique layout, set as it is across two sides of the Elbechaussee, but is conveniently connected through a pedestrian subway (which we discovered on a rainy afternoon - no need to brave Hamburg's drizzly weather to get to your room if it happens to be on the non-Elbe side of the hotel.)
While my suite didn't have the famed Elbe views that are among the Hotel Louis. C. Jacob's most sought-after attractions, its generously proportioned living and sleeping quarters and inner location made it even cosier on a rainy Hamburg evening, and its almost full-length bathroom with a deep soak tub and unbelievably comfortable bed (I'm actually considering finding out where I could buy one!) made it one of the most restful rooms I have ever slept in.
The hotel's bright terrace spaces and intimate Jacob's Bar were among my favourite spots, perfect to enjoy a sun-lit breakfast in the morning or a quiet tipple at night.
It's actually little wonder the Hotel Louis C. Jacob is considered one of the finest places to dine in Hamburg, given the fact that it began its life as a bakery and wine restaurant more than 200 years ago. The original structure is often used as the venue for intimate group meals, owing to its long culinary heritage.
The cannon in the hotel's famed Lime Tree Terrace harks back to that time, although it has a bit of an unfortunate history. The cannon was used by the original owner to salute passing ships on the Elbe, a habit that ended in a fatal accident one day when the cannon misfired.
Another highlight of that period (thankfully one with less tragic a history) is an atmospheric old ice cellar that was discovered while attempting to build an underground car park for the hotel. The stunning domed brick structure now houses rows of wine bottles and carafes and can be used as an intimate venue for a dinner for two or small gatherings by candlelight.
From the impeccably executed and richly flavoured cuisine to its gorgeous setting that truly captures the best the city has to offer, I can't think of a more perfect spot to enjoy a beautiful day in Hamburg.
Disclaimer: Platetrotter stayed as a guest of Hotel Louis C. Jacob. I was however completely charmed by this property and the meals enjoyed in its riverfront restaurant and on the Lime Tree Terrace were among my loveliest in Germany.
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