Hamburg Harbour Crane

Reviewed by Emily McDonnell

A blow-out escape: a stunning, repurposed crane from 1947, found bobbing about on the Elbe, overlooking Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie

Self-catering apartment
From €390


Sleeping in a former industrial boat is not the first place you’d think of as being a highly luxurious and oh-so-romantic getaway, and yet the Hamburg Harbour Crane is arguably the best luxury getaway in the city (it’s certainly the most unique!). The crane, named the "GREIF", was built in 1947 and was only retired from service in 2009. For over 60 years, the floating crane was hard at work in Hamburg’s harbour, Kiel Canal and many tributary waters of the Elbe, where it was used to load barges, pull anchors and hoist provisions onto seagoing vessels. 

After several years, the floating crane’s engine room and crane operator's cabin were acquired by Tim and Marc, who transformed the spaces into a sleek, modern getaway. The two owner are fascinated by repurposing old buildings into individual, special places to stay, and their vision for the harbour crane was simple: no one thinks of celebrating a special occasion in a working port, let’s show them what’s possible. The Hamburg Harbor Crane has been providing special escapes to couples since 2018, who get to sleep in the upper part of the crane overlooking the River Elbe and iconic Elbphilharmonie.


I fell in love because...
  • This is one of the most unique properties I have ever seen: the thoughtful restoration has resulted in an utterly romantic retreat
  •  You’re at the heart of Hamburg, but get to benefit from utter peace and quiet from high up over the river
You must...
  • Sit in the Kranführer Lounge with a glass of HafenCity Gin and watch the harbour do its thing
  • See a concert at the Elbphilharmonie! Yes, it’s nice to see it from the outside, but the acoustics within are something else
You might dislike...
  • There are days in winter when the access to the harbour crane is closed due to storm tides, meaning guests can no longer reach the crane with dry feet
  • It’s an expensive stay, but definitely an unforgettable experience
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© Martin Haag


Introducing Tim and Marc! 

“We love the process of transforming unusual building into unique accommodation, so when a friend wanted to sell the harbour crane, we pounced and started an endlessly long approval and conversion process, which came to a happy end in 2018 with the opening.”

They love…

“The moment when the door closes, you feel like you are in a space capsule in the middle of the harbour… it’s magical!”

Tim and Marc’s insider tips 

  • We bought the crane from our friend Harry, who has a gallery down in the crane, you must visit and get a tour! It’s called Harry's Hamburger Hafenbasar.
  • Sip an Astra or glass of HafenGin on the terrace and soak up the atmosphere in the harbour: you can hear the waves splashing and seagulls squawking.
  • Explore Hamburg: it’s an incredible city where each district has a different vibe. You’re at the heart of the old port with its beautiful red brick warehouse building, just stroll around, stopping occasionally for a drink.
  • Visit one of the city’s beaches, such as Elbestrand Oevelgönne, Rissener Ufer or Elbestrand Finkenrieker.

What people
are saying.

"An extraordinary experience in an old harbor crane! Great facilities, grandiose view of Sandtorhafen and Elphi, lavish breakfast and care by a real Hamburg original."


"An exceptionally beautiful and special place."


The essentials.

  • Sleeping arrangements: In the upper part of the crane is a double bed with breath-taking views. Duvets are by Shuj, and filled with silk produced by caterpillars that didn't die for silk production. 
  • Bathroom set up: There’s a bathroom on the lower deck with a double rainfall shower and fireplace (nicknamed the magic shower). There is also a selection of toiletries and bathrobes.
  • Food: There’s a small bar area on the lower deck with a coffee machine and selection of wine. You can sit here to enjoy your breakfast basket (included in the price, too; the basket, which can also be vegetarian or vegan on request, is prepared by the housekeeper using products from a local health food store and is always seasonal. 
  • For families: This is an adult’s only getaway.
  • On-site equipment: You can use Netflix and there are a few DVDs, too. 
  • Optional extras: There’s an onboard wine and beer selection.
  • Help: There’s a housekeeper around to help with all queries.
  • Remember to pack: Nothing! Just bring someone you love!
  • Pets: Not suitable.
  • Sustainability: During renovations, a lot of materials were reused. Plastic-free products are used for breakfast and cleaning. The crane is heated with district heating and green electricity, plys the laundry done in a laundret that uses energy-saving equipment. And as a bonus ethical measure, the caterpillars that produced the silk for the duvets didn’t die for it.


The Harbour Crane is at the heart of HafenCity, Hamburg's old port.

From Berlin, it's a 3.5-hour drive, and parking is nearby.

With the train from central Berlin, it's just 2 hours.


Say you found Hamburg Harbour Crane on The Staycation Collection and get some complimentary bottle of HafenCity Gin on arrival.
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