Because I work in this area, I visit this place nearly every weekday. In general, I hate going to shopping malls with all those big chain markets and their crowded atmosphere, so in the beginning I did not follow my co-workers recommendations to go to Hanse Viertel.
After a few weeks I caved in and did it and I must admit, this mall is different. Having an overall good looking brick-made appearance, you will find a lot of little shops which are privately run most of the time. There are books shops, places where you can buy sweets, tea, clothes and vinyls as well as quirky stores, for example for dog supplies or artsy stuff.
If you want to rest for a while, there is a lovely little cafe with old chairs and tables where you can get very good cappuccino or cake. If you like it more hearty, check out the lobster and seafood stand or the food counters in the Edeka department store in the basement for very cheap, good plain fare or fresh-made sushi.
You can take away all the food and have a two-minute walk to the Alster or the town hall square.