DESTINATION FOCUS • December 2019
Germany: the land of Oktoberfest, Christmas markets and castles fit for fairytales. But while Berlin gets all the attention from a sleek, city-break crowd, the country’s other myriad metropolises are more than worth the trip. We ask hotel insiders from five comparatively lesser-known cities to spill the secrets
Says who: Matthew Balon, lead designer of Ruby Leni hotel, Dusseldorf
The vibe: Dusseldorf is a bit off the tourist track and has something of a highbrow reputation in the area, with a thriving fashion scene and tree-lined allées.
The bite: Takumi, one of many Japanese restaurants found on Immermannstrasse. There’s nothing better than a bowl of its special spicy ramen, eaten at the bar.
If you only do one thing: Steal a half hour at the Rheinpromenade to watch the boats go down the river, warmed with a coffee from Cøffe in Benratherstrasse.
The bed: Ruby Leni has a relaxed boutique vibe that I love coming back to after a long day – plus it’s within walking distance of everything you could want to see in the city centre.
Says who: Yvonne Lauble, hotel manager at The Charles Hotel, Munich
The vibe: Munich has a special charm thanks to a blend of Bavarian cosiness, countless beer gardens, museums and remarkable architecture, all just a short hop from the Alps.
The bite: A Saturday visit to the Viktualienmarkt, where the locals do their grocery shopping.
If you only do one thing: Swim in the Eisbach brook in our beautiful English Garden in the summer, or ice skate on Kleinhesseloher lake when it’s cold.
The bed: The Charles Hotel is only a 10-minute walk from the city centre, with the Old Botanical Garden on the doorstep. It is also home to the world-class Charles Spa.
Says who: Tim Schneider, front office manager at Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Cologne
The vibe: In Cologne, you get into conversation quickly. It has many fantastic museums and so much culture, but the friendliness and openness of the people really distinguishes the city.
The bite: Himmel un Ääd (or, Heaven and Earth) is a mixture of apple pieces (Heaven) and mashed potatoes (Earth), dotted with onion and topped off with a glorious slab of meat. Wash it down with a local Kölsch beer.
If you only do one thing: The Old Town, on the banks of the Rhine, is full of small shops, restaurants, theatres and, of course, Cologne Cathedral.
The bed: Excelsior Hotel Ernst is a privately owned grand hotel in the city centre with 155 years of history, and is Cologne’s only member of the distinguished Leading Hotels of the World group.
Says who: Regina Gronau, receptionist at Melter Apartments, Nuremberg
The vibe: The castle on the hill overlooks the whole city, the river that runs through it, the beautifully preserved Old Town in the middle… There are more than a few things about this city that make it special.
The bite: Sausages, sauerkraut and potato dumplings in the beautifully timbered, rustic restaurant Böhm’s Herrenkeller.
If you only do one thing: A walk from the station through Königsstrasse towards St Lorenz Church down to the main market. Turn the golden ring at the Beautiful Fountain to bring you luck.
The bed: No matter how people plan to stay at Melter Hotel & Apartments, guests always end up leaving feeling like a friend. Plus it is perfectly convenient for families after self-catering facilities.
Says who: Alex Obertop, GM at SIDE Design Hotel, Hamburg
The vibe: Hamburg isn’t what you would describe as an international city; it’s still very beneath-the-radar and very authentic.
The bite: A dry-aged T-Bone at [m] eatery – the best steakhouse in town.
If you only do one thing: Take a boat ride through the wonderful Hamburg harbour. Guided tours are operated from the piers at Landungsbrücken.
The bed: On a quiet street in the city centre, SIDE – the city’s only five-star design hotel – has an amazing breakfast to get you on your way, and a relaxing spa for when you return.
Use Avios to fly to these and five other German cities. To book your festive escape, click here