Frankfurt in the center of Germany is best known as the largest financial center in continental Europe. It’s home to the European Central Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and more than 100 commercial banks. Frankfurt is often referred to as Mainhattan, due to its skyline of skyscrapers on the local river Main. Offering a major airport and train station, it also has the most heavily used Autobahn in Germany with 320,000 cars traversing it daily.
Reasons to visit Frankfurt include the Frankfurt Motor Show (the world’s largest) and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the first book fair in the world. It’s also the birthplace of Germany’s greatest writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Born in 1749, he spearheaded the Romantic movement in Europe after his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther rendered him a literary superstar. His expression of the turmoils of youth resonated with an entire generation.
Frankfurt is home to numerous museums, such as the Städel — which houses one of Germany’s greatest art collections, and features a new, must-see 32,000-square-foot underground extension. It’s also where you’ll find the contemporary Schirn art museum, the Senckenberg nature museum, Goethe House and two major botanical gardens, including the Palmengarten, Germany’s largest. History buffs will revel in Frankfurt’s cathedral, the Kaiserdom, where emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were elected and crowned from 1356 onwards.
Before World War II, Frankfurt was a major world tourist destination, renowned for its charming old town with half-timbered buildings, the largest in Europe. In 1944, during a British air raid, more than a thousand buildings in the picturesque old town were destroyed. The Römer area, with its majestic town hall, was later rebuilt and now its Christmas market — with special local delicacies like marzipan-filled Bethmaennchen — attracts 2 million visitors every year. Though it’s Germany’s most expensive city,the Frankfurt area is considered to be one of the best places to live in Germany and in Europe.
The city has experienced a transformation lately, with a new foodie scene attracting a young professional crowd. Maxie Eisen in the Red Light District is a hipster cafe that serves popular German dishes by day, and a bar by night. Also visit Moriki, a trendy pan-Asian restaurant that serves sushi pizza.
In the summer, sit by the river at Strand Perle or go to the Apfel Wein Festival (cider) in August. Typical local food is served heartily with Apfelwein at Dauth Schneider, a 150 year old tavern. Luna Bar is reputed to have the best cocktails in Germany, and the popular night venues The King Kamehameha Club, Jimmy’s Bar, Kleinlaut & Bar or Casablanca Bar (with piano music) all guarantee memorable times.
The most glamorous hotel in Frankfurt is undoubtedly the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof. Built in 1876, it’s a Frankfurt monument in itself, protected as a historical national treasure. Under the management of Cesar Ritz, who later developed the Ritz Hotel in Paris, it became the first modern luxury hotel in Germany at the end of the 19th century. Reconstructed after World War II, it’s a favorite destination for its convenient location in the heart of the financial district, the Main Tower, the historical center, and to all of the city’s best shopping. With 261 rooms and 42 suites, it sits like a palace on Kaiser Strasse.
I enjoyed my Superior large room with high ceilings and large windows, silk draperies. wide wooden closets, a large work desk, comfortable arm chairs, air conditioning, a flat screen TV, free wifi and a Nespresso coffee machine.
The contemporary bathroom was spacious, and offered a whirlpool tub, separate shower, WC with telephone, makeup mirror, bathrobe, slippers and luxurious bath amenities. One thoughtful detail was that all sources of lighting in the room were easily controlled from the convenience of my bed, using a central light switch above the night table.
Included in your room rate is free access to the hotel’s upscale spa, where you can bask in a Turkish bath ritual or immerse yourself in an Oriental Rassoul. Massages and holistic applications are also available, and men can enjoy being shaved in an old-fashioned barber shop.
Some suites include separate living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and fireplaces with private hammams and whirlpool tubs. Room service is available around the clock for night owls and late-night arrivals. Famous guests include author Thomas Mann, who lived in the suite that bears his name, as well as Yoko Ono, who is still a regular visitor.
In the morning, I savored my breakfast in the traditional restaurant, which offered everything imaginable: German and American breakfast favorites, smoked fish and salmon, fresh fruit and juices, crisp breads, scrambled eggs, omelets, bacon, Chinese soup and French croissants. A feast! There’s also a French restaurant on the main floor, as well as Breeze, an Asian gourmet eatery, Cigarrum, a cigar lounge, Oscar, a bistro and bar, Hofgarten Restaurant, and Die Autorenbar.
The people at the desk are extremely polished and efficient, and eager to help with whatever you request. If you plan your nuptials in Germany, the hotel has the capacity to host your banquet for up to 600 people. For more information, visit http://www.steigenberger.com.
Steigenberger Hof, Kaiserstraße, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Consider visiting Frankfurt this summer for your European vacation. Its central location makes it a convenient portal for all your travels by air, train or car. Whether you visit for work, shopping, cuisine, or museums, you won’t find a more suitable hotel than the Steigenberger Hof, Frankfurt’s most historical and modern hotel.