By Patricia Wersinger
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Düsseldorf is the capital of the German fashion, beauty and advertising industries. Sitting on the Rhine river, it attracts numerous trade fairs and international businesses.
It is often nicknamed the “Hautstadt” or “Haute city” of Germany because of its luxury shopping boulevard, Königsalle (or the KO, as natives refer to it). With its string of international high-end brands spread along one mile, it is a mere 10 minutes away from Düsseldorf International airport.
Architectural fans flock to Düsseldorf‘s Rheinuferpromenade to admire Frank O. Gehry’s Neuer Zollhof, a set of three avant-garde contrasting buildings that appear like a gigantic sculpture along the river. You can take an elevator up the Rheinturm and have lunch at its Top 180 restaurant with a spectacular, 360-degree panoramic view at 546 feet. Then step on a boat cruise on the Rhine for a pleasant afternoon on Europe’s largest river.
Another architectural wonder is Daniel Libeskind’s Kö-Bogen, or the `King’s Bow,’ a large-scale office and retail complex in glass and white stones with diagonal cut slashes and hanging gardens.
Inside the complex, discover Düsseldorf’s most exclusive department store: the Breuninger. Reminiscent of Barney’s in New York, this glamour hot spot hosts top international brands as well as the best of European contemporary fashion labels.The airy, sleek design of the store provides easy movement from floor to floor with whimsical touches.
It includes beauty rooms where you can get pampered for any occasion, bespoke tailors ( the only department store in Europe that offers that option), a restaurant Sansibar, cafés and a confiserie. Don’t miss the bottom floor which has the reputation of having Germany’s biggest shoe display. The Breuninger is situated at Königsallee 2 and can be found on line at http://www.e-breuninger.de
Düsseldorf’ nickname as “the longest bar in the world” is well deserved as more than 300 bars and clubs can be found within the picturesque Altstadt or Old Town section.
Uerige, a beloved, classic brewery in Germany with wooden panels, stained glass, and a taproom serves the local Alt beer in a hearty local atmosphere. If you want to try traditional food and have a very German experience, you should definitely visit Schlüssel, Zum Schiffchen or Hausmann’s as well.
Linger through the student neighborhood with its avant-garde galleries, stunning St. Lambertus Church, breweries and cafés. In the summer, restaurant tables fill up the streets and squares though any time of the year you will find reasons to celebrate here. The Christmas market in December attracts huge crowds as does the Karneval festivals in February — considered one of the most popular and delirious parties in the Rheinland.
Düsseldorf was the birthplace of Kraftwerk and the German electronic music movement in the 1970s but if you are an art lover, you already know that Düsseldorf is Germany’s city of art and the home of Germany’s top art academy, the Kunstakademie-Düsseldorf where contemporary legends Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke held court. One of Germany’s best collections of 20th century art is found at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen at the K20 and the K21 art museums. Stroll through the K20 on a Sunday afternoon and discover its superb Surrealist and Expressionist collection with classics from Max Ernst, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Ernst Kirchner or Max Beckmann among many other 20th century masters. A free shuttle will take you to the K21 which houses conceptual art. Other important museums include the Museum Kunstpalast with its collection of old masters and the NRW Forum Düsseldorf considered outside of Germany to host some of the best photography exhibits in Europe.
For your lodgings, the premier address in town is undisputedly Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella hotel. Internationally respected it has a 200 year existence and has welcome world dignitaries including Napoleon, Churchill, Kissinger or the Spanish King Juan Carlos as well as business leaders, movie and pop stars. Standing tall on Königsalle, it is a world-class accommodation with superlative luxury and service. Rebuilt and renovated in 2008, it now offers an even more exclusive ninth Royal Floor with five luxurious suites and six generous rooms. The grander one, the 3 bedroom Royal Suite includes a private entrance ( just in case you need to flee from the paparazzi).
The hotel offers 24 hour room service, traditional afternoon tea in the lobby lounge, regional and international favorites in the Brasserie “1806”, a Capella Bar where you can taste a Sex in the City cocktail in the shape of a shoe and a Cigar Lounge with walk in humidor and a selection of 124 different cigars. The Beauty Lounge offers facial and body treatments as well as manicure and pedicure. You can enjoy a swim in a superb pool or rest in the steam bath or sauna. The hotel also hosts a private clinic Preventium. Its main focus is preventive medicine and diagnosis in a personalized way. The other clinic is the Privatklinik, which combines the Clinic of Medical Experts and the Pearl of Aesthetic specializing in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery including hair transplants. You can plan your stay in Düsseldorf around getting a procedure that requires a bit of down time and a lot of privacy. Luxury shopping can be found under the Breidenbacher roof such as Michael Kors, Hugo Boss or Schnitzler as well as a law firm and host residences for purchase.
I enjoyed my Grand Deluxe Room with a double bed, cozy sitting area with couch and table, and vast marble-and-glass bathroom with private bath, large shower with a sitting area, separate toilet with direct phone access and a bidet. Custom made furniture, Italian fabrics and original art on the British-made wall paper provided a relaxing refined atmosphere. Don’t fear to help yourself to something in the mini fridge, as all the items are free and replaced daily.
In the morning, enjoyed a gourmet breakfast buffet in the restaurant with fresh breads, raspberry smoothies, creamy yogurts, French and local cheeses, smoked salmon, cold cuts. You can order a warm breakfast à la carte and any type of coffee or tea you desire. Champagne and Pellegrino are available, too.
The hotel also offers special amenities such as locating last minute tickets for any show in town, fulfilling shopping requests (have a luxury store remain open an extra hour, just for you), delivering Dom Perignon to your door, or booking a private jet in case you need to fly out the same night. What sets the Capella hotels apart is the level of service that you can expect from the staff. Simply dial your wish, and see it come true! Find more information at http://www.capellahotels.com/dusseldorf
For a relaxing time in the midst of the city, try the Momentum Spa, a nearby luxurious facility equipped with a stellar swimming pool, massage and beauty services. If you go in the sauna, know that in Germany, walking naked in a spa is as natural as picking up daisies in an field. Men and women share the sauna and steam rooms and there is no voyeurism or discomfort. There is a quiet room where you can sleep or relax and a bar where nice fruit and vegetable juices can be ordered. For more information check http://www.momentum-spa.de
I’m so glad I visited Düsseldorf. Between visits in its beautiful boutiques, parks and art museums, I enjoyed running around the Old Town and looking at the Rhine on the promenade at sunset. Sitting cozily at the center of major crossways, Dusseldorf is the perfect European destination for 2017. Major flights arrive daily from all major U.S. cities. For more information about the city, consult http://www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de.
The gateway to Europe, the city was ranked in Mercer’s Quality of Living survey as the 6th best place to live in the world, and it will charm your heart away. This year, make it your first stop on your European travel!