Grand Hotels

If you enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and are ready to save up for an incredible splurge, I recommend a stay at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, overlooking the lovely Binnenalster (Inner Alster Lake). It's not built on such a monumental scale, of course, but it is undeniably grand. Thanks to now being part of the Fairmont family of hotels it is well cared for and very well staffed. 

Photo from hotel website jahreszeitenbarIts giant keys, of which you get a single one and which you leave at the desk when you go out, and tiny wood-lined bar, which somehow despite being smaller than most of the rooms manages to have all the distinct spots where you might be in the mood to place yourself in a bar, are sources of particular pleasure. Also its large bath thermometers in their wooden bases with big cork floats. And the little gilded elevator, barely large enough for you and the staff member who will give you a tour of your room at the start of your stay. (You must let them take your suitcase up separately, it's just too awkward otherwise.)

For maximum enjoyment, book your stay through a package that includes a free room upgrade if available and, importantly, breakfast inclusive (we got ours through AmEx). You may have to pay a little overage to get the grandest spread, but that glorious and leisurely breakfast remains my favorite room service experience.

IMG_4491For maximum quirkiness, happen to find yourself in the lobby at the very end of December when the Christmas tree is removed and the enormous chandelier is put back in its normal spot. Watching that delicate dance of four men, two ladders, and a long metal pole shoved through the chandelier chain really is like a missing scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Sadly, no lobby boys.

“Then someone will make you.”

RT @glichfield: How Israel treats visitors with the wrong kind of name: pointless humiliation. (via @mohamed)

Reconciling what I hear about the modern state of Israel with my reading and viewing of accounts of the Holocaust is difficult and painful, like watching someone who was mugged go through a terrible and negative personality change.