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Europäischer Hof

In an effort to add a distinctive feature to an otherwise ordinary hotel, Hamburg's largest private hotel recently added a seven-story leisure center that features of all things a 150-meter water slide, not to mention an indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sun terrace, squash courts, massages, and even a golf simulator. If you go, note the separate elevators for barefoot and shod guests.

Fitness aside, this establishment is unremarkable. Its large, plain lobby was filled with smoke when we arrived. Guestrooms are modern, but lacking in charm. Twenty nonsmoking rooms are available.

Daily Rates: Singles €109-159, doubles €139-189
Contact: Kirchenallee 45, D-20099 Hamburg, tel. +49/040/248-248, fax 248-24 799, www.europaeischer-hof.de
Rating: Quality 8/20, Value 11/20

Hotel Louis C. Jacob

When it comes to Hamburgs top hotels, the Jacob is one to splurge on. It sits about five miles outside of the city center along the Elbchausee an eight kilometer, riverside avenue that connects the suburbs of Altona, Ottensen, Othmarschen, Nienstedten, and Blankenese.

In a most successful remodeling effort, the Jacob family has created a luxurious environment that reflects the hotels 200-year tradition while fully embracing modern design concepts and amenities. Once a destination for the painter, Max Liebermann, the hotel now houses one of the largest private art galleries in northern Germany.

The Jacob was built in 1791 as a guesthouse and stayed in operation for five generations. It was first known as a restaurant with a few sleeping rooms. After major renovations, the hotel reopened in 1996 with 86 rooms, 26 of which face the river. Furnishings are mostly in modern Danish styles.

Our room, Number 206, is one of the best: a corner room facing the Elbe and the industrial Airbus plant across the way. We especially appreciated the polished hardwood floor, peaked ceiling, modern lighting, and fax/modem connections. The luxurious bath featured heated marble floors, a double sink, both shower stall and bathtub, and the all-essential towel warmer. Airtight, hardwood doors insured us a silent nights sleep.

A serious rival for first choice is Room Number 100, the Liebermann room, whose furnishings include several Liebermann originals.

The various culinary options at the hotel match its contemporary atmosphere. Breakfast is a notch above the usual fare, with eggs and other warm entrées accompanied by a wide variety of fresh fruits and breads. In the summertime, guests can take their morning meal outside on the Linden Terrace. From the elegant dining room, six sets of double French doors open to a patio directly above the Elbe. A famous Liebermann painting of the Lindenterrase is on display at the Kunsthalle.

The main restaurant employs the number one sommelier in Germany and recently earned a Michelin star (review page 7). A trendy alternative is the Kleines Jacob, a wine bistro with local specialties from 9 to 29 DM ($5-$16). Wines from several countries are offered. The food menu is adapted to the wine selections, which range from 6 to 420 DM ($4-$235). Caricature paintings of the former owners decorate the walls. Reservations are recommended.

The staff at this hotel was consistently friendly and helpful with everything from valet parking to navigating the city.

Daily Rates: Singles €175, doubles €225.
Contact: Elbchausee 401-403, D-22609 Hamburg, tel. +49/040/811 550, fax 822-55-444.
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 14/20