No report on Hamburg hotels should omit the delightful little Hotel Abtei, which we first visited in July 1990. Meticulously and flawlessly run by Fritz Lay, this 11-room jewel is on a quiet street of fine old homes in Hamburg's Harvestehude section, about a 30-minute walk from the city center. The Abtei offers amenities that would make most five-star hotels envious. The house abounds with antiques and fresh flowers.

Herr Lay personally records the classical music on the dozen or so tapes provided for the individual stereo systems in each guestroom and bathroom. Coffee is brewed half-liter at a time and not until ordered by a guest. Nothing on the breakfast buffet comes in a jar or can; jams and jellies are made on the premises, as are the fresh-each-morning croissants and brioche. Even the Abtei's wash basins are works of art; several guest bathrooms contain these extraordinary, hand-painted beauties which were personally commissioned by—you guessed it—Herr Lay.

Five years ago, Lay told us of plans for an intimate restaurant of "six or seven tables, no more" that would be open only to hotel guests and what he called, "friends of the house." The restaurant recently opened and was quickly awarded a Michelin star. We have seen no better small, city hotel.

Street Address: Abteistrasse 14
City: Hamburg
Country: Germany
Phone: 011 49 40 44 29 05
Fax: 011 49 40 44 98 20
Quality: Rating: 5 stars
Value: Rating: 3 stars
Price Level: $$$$
Type: Hotel