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Luxury hamburger – in Hamburg, of course

Luxury hotels and travel - Is this what you call a hamburger?

Is this what you call a hamburger?

Subway is scheduled to overtake McDonald’s in numbers of ‘restaurants’ (ha ha, call’em that?) around the world.  When she is home in rural England, the gal picks up litter, and far too much of it, around the local lanes.

She has never picked up any Subway packs but, by golly, every week there are ghastly McDonald’s food containers, and drinks packs that come apart (paper cup, plastic lid and drinking straw), meaning three pieces to pick up.

Luxury hotels and travel - Hamburger, at Park Hyatt Hamburg

Hamburger, at Park Hyatt Hamburg

Anyway, she loves a luxury hamburger from time to time.  No, this does not need to be one of those mega-towers, piling on the calories.  Hamburger, from the Hanseatic port city of Hamburg, right?

It could be that the word hamburger evolved from the Hamburg specialty Frikadelle, a pan-fried patty of ground beef, soaked stale bread, egg, chopped onion and seasonings, served with potatoes and vegetables rather than a bread bun.

More research needed? In 1802 the Oxford Dictionary said a hamburger was a piece of meat, sometimes smoked, sometimes salted, that was transported across the Atlantic from Hamburg to America.

Luxury hotels and travel - Opened-up hamburger, at Park Hyatt Hamburg

... and opened up

One of today’s hamburger researchers is a Swede called Mike who lives in Abingdon, England: he says the best hamburger is 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork.

Not so, says the lovely, calm, Tashi Takang, the Tibetan who runs the luxury Park Hyatt Hamburg.  His hotel’s hamburgers are 100% best ground beef.

They arrive on a bed of coleslaw and topped by slices of gherkin and tomato, with accompanying jars of Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and tomato ketchup and, of course, French fries, here served crisp, in a separate white bowl (I remember Alain Ducasse’s fries, on a paper d’oyley-covered silver stand under a net awning, to prevent moisture building up…).  Park Hyatt Hamburg’s hamburger goes brilliantly, by the way, with a glass of good German red (yes, there are some), say Nahe 2009 Regent Trocken.

Luxury hotels and travel - The Levantehaus, home of Park Hyatt Hamburg luxury hotel , dates back to 1911

The Levantehaus, Hamburg, dates back to 1911

Tashi Takang runs an amazing Jugendstil hotel, esconsed in the middle of the H-shaped Levantehaus built in the centre of Hamburg in 1911 by Franz Bach as headquarters for his family’s Levante Shipping Company.  Levante means ‘towards the sunrise’, by the way – think the Levant, like Lebanon, east of the Mediterranean.

Jugendstil, from the Bavarian magazine Munchner Jugend, equals Art Nouveau, and this is what the 252-room hotel is.  Room 642 looks out across Mönckebergstrasse at global retail-from-A-to-Z, namely Accessorize and Zara.  Look in, to plush, plumped upholstery, and an unadorned big desk and no fewer than 18 (yes 18) drawers to store a travelling-gal’s clothes. The woodwork is silky smooth. Arts and Crafts Movement, this is it.

Luxury hotels and travel - Mary Gostelow and Park Hyatt Hamburg's general manager Tashi Takang

Tashi Takang at Apples' breakfast

Take a walk outside and you are within minutes of the Rathaus town hall, and the main rail station. Take the elevator down to the hotel basement and you find a giant Technogym and a 70-foot pool with an ephemeral seascape trompe l’oeil at the far end.

Take time for Apples’ breakfast buffet, for more types of home-made yoghurt and fruit purées than you could dream about, and take time, too, to explore the whole of today’s Levantehaus, with over 40 one-off boutiques.