Destination Of The Week: Frankfurt
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Frankfurt is Europe’s largest financial center, and also happens to have one of the busiest airports on the continent. However, this German hub offers so much more than just business and finance. Situated between two large rivers, the historical city center boasts unique architecture, cozy German pubs and an area of museums that spans over a mile, not to mention one of the world’s most famous wine regions within an hour’s drive. Let’s pay a visit to Frankfurt, Germany!
WHAT TO DO
The first stop on your list should definitely be the Römer, or City Hall. It is actually comprised of three buildings and became Frankfurt’s city hall back in 1405. Today, this important Frankfurt landmark is still used for official city business. You can see more medieval architecture surrounding the City Hall area, which is called Römerberg. Most of these buildings date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, however some were destroyed in World War II and have since been reconstructed.
Continue your tour by walking towards the Main River. You will bypass the Eiserner Steg, a 19th-century bridge leading to Sachsenhausen, and the Rententurm (Wharfinger’s Tower), a 15th-century Gothic-style fortified tower connected to the Saalhof, an old 12th-century castle building.
Don’t miss Frankfurt’s most famous cathedral, the Dom. This building also dates back to the 14th century and you can climb up to the top of the tower for beautiful city views.
Make sure to see the old Opera House, the Alte Oper, which was built in 1880. It’s no longer used for operas, but is still in use for other events. It’s located in the busy Opernplaz, or Opera Square, a beautiful area in which to relax, have a coffee at one of the many cafes, and people-watch.
If you are a museum buff, Frankfurt’s your spot. The mile-long Museum Embankment runs along the Main River and is home to several museums. The Städel Museum is probably one of the most famous, and hosts about 700 years of art history within its walls. The German Film Institute is another interesting stop, as is the Goethe House, the childhood home of author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of Frankfurt’s most famous local sons. The Jewish Museum provides a comprehensive overview of the history of the Jewish people in Frankfurt. The museum options are endless, continuing with the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Art, and much more.
If you are looking for more on Jewish history, the Museum Judengasse is part of the Jewish Museum, but at a different location since it’s built over an excavated section of the former Jewish Ghetto. Afterward exploring the museum, you can visit the Holocaust Memorial and the medieval Jewish cemetery just outside.
After seeing all the historical sites and museums, if you’re in the mood for something a little more modern, head to the top of the Main Tower, the only Frankfurt skyscraper open to visitors. For a small fee, you can take the elevator up to the viewing platform and see the city from a height of about 650 feet, or 200 meters.
Finally, if you want to relax in a green space, check out the Gruneburgpark, or in English, the “Green Castle Park” (it’s named after a castle that stood here in the 14th century). The park offers an outdoor theater in summer, as well as several play areas for children. A small section of the park is reserved for botanical gardens, not to be confused with the city’s main botanical gardens, Palmengarten, found across the street from the park.
WHERE TO EAT
Frankfurt isn’t known as a culinary destination, but there are still some excellent restaurants to be found here. For fine dining, try Holbein’s next to the Staedel Museum, and the Michelin-starred Tiger, which, as part of a cabaret theater, enables you to enjoy both dinner and a show. For riverfront dining, try Frankfurter Botschaft, which has a beautiful glass facade and overlooks the river; the food here is almost all organic. If you want to sample rare German wines, try Doepfner’s im Maingau – this dimly-lit, posh restaurant has a wine cellar full of German vintages. If you are into wine you will also love Vinum Weinkeller, a former wine cellar that dates to 1893, now features wine-themed decor, and specializes in regional wines.
Destination of the Week pieces are not meant to be comprehensive guides to destinations since we don’t have the time or funds to visit all these places in person and report back to you. Nor are they endorsements of all the hotels we mention. They are simply roundups of top destinations that we have specifically pinpointed for the opportunity they present to use your miles and points to get to and stay there. As always, we welcome your comments to help enrich the content here, provide opinions and first-hand experiences of these destinations.
The Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is the largest in Germany, but it’s actually the third-busiest airport in Europe after London Heathrow and Paris Charles De Gaulle. The airport includes two passenger terminals with a capacity of approximately 65 million passengers per year. Located just 7.5 miles (12 km) southwest of the city center, Frankfurt Airport is the largest hub for Lufthansa and a quick trip to/from the city.
The city has a secondary airport, the Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (HHN), set much further from Frankfurt. In fact, it’s about equidistant between the cities of Frankfurt and Luxembourg, about 75 miles (120 km) to each by car.
Getting to Frankfurt from the US is fairly easy, as there are non-stop flights from many US hubs and thanks to Lufthansa’s large presence there, it’s a major Star Alliance hub. In fact, it’s often easier to get to FRA from the US than it is to fly into London or Paris, and is often much cheaper thanks to lower surcharges.
For example, for dates in mid-February, you can fly non-stop on a variety of airlines for about $1,000 from the East Coast: Lufthansa and United will take you direct from Newark, whereas Delta and Singapore fly non-stop from JFK. At a slightly higher price, the following airlines fly non-stop to FRA: United from ORD and Lufthansa from LAX.
If you are already in Europe, you have many options. You can get to FRA or HHN from almost any city in Europe via Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, Iberia, or low-cost options like Germanwings (operating out of FRA) and Ryan Air (out of HHN).
Once you land in FRA, getting to the city from the airport is easy and user-friendly, as trains leave the airport terminal for the main Frankfurt station about every 10 minutes for about 3-4 euros (about $5). Taxis will usually cost about 30 euros ($40) each way. Transfers to HHN run a bit pricier, and a taxi will cost approximately 160 euros ($220) each way. There are buses that will take for you for about 14 euros ($19) each way, or 20 euros ($27) if you buy the round-trip ticket.
Radisson Blu Frankfurt: Located in Frankfurt’s western outskirts near the confluence Rhine and Main rivers, this hotel is quite close to the city’s metro, providing easy access to downtown Frankfurt. All rooms come with free internet access, heated bathroom floors, individual climate control and a minibar. Pets are allowed. Visit the gym, sauna, steam room or the Heaven Spa for some relaxation time. This hotel currently has two dining options, Gaía Restaurant & Terrace for Spanish food and wunderBar Lounge, which serves drinks and light bites. Restaurant Coast will be opening soon. Room rates in February start at 84 euros ($115) per night or 44,000 points for an award night.
Hilton Frankfurt: Situated in Frankfurt’s city center, this hotel is located next to Frankfurt’s stock exchange. Each room has large windows with park or city views, a large work desk, and a separate shower and bathtub. WiFi is free in public areas only. The hotel offers a babysitting service, large pool, jogging track, sauna, solarium, jacuzzi and beauty salon. Guests can dine at Gekkos, Pacific Colors Restaurant or Vista Bar and Lounge. This hotel is an HHonors Category 8 hotel and room rates in February start at 133 euros ($182) or 70,000 HHonors points for an award night.
Hilton Frankfurt Airport: Located in the airport’s newly iconic Squaire building, this hotel is situated directly above the InterCity Express railway station at the Frankfurt Airport, and has direct pedestrian access via skywalk to Terminal 1. All guestrooms feature sound-proof windows, an LCD TV, Mp3 alarm clock and radio, and a work zone with an ergonomic desk chair. The hotel offers a babysitting service, a large 24-hour fitness center, sauna, and steam room. Dine at Rise Restaurant or the Fifth Lounge and Bar. This hotel is an HHonors Category 8 hotel and room rates in February start at 119 euros ($162) or 50,000 HHonors Points.
The only Hyatt option in Frankfurt is the Hyatt Regency Mainz, which is located in Mainz, about 30 minutes from Frankfurt.
Intercontinental Frankfurt: Located on the Main River, this modern hotel is close to the financial district and the historic center of Frankfurt. Its 467 rooms and 35 suites all come with satellite TV and a stereo. The hotel has a 24-hour fitness center, business center and a gift shop. Dine at the Veranda Restaurant or enjoy a cocktail at the DAXx Mainhattan lobby bar. Room rates in mid February start at 91 euros ($125) per night or 45,000 points for an award night.
Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt Airport: This hotel is situated near the Frankfurt airport just off the A5 highway. They offer a shuttle service to and from the airport for 5 Euros ($7) between 6:00 am and 10:45 pm. All guestrooms have a satellite TV and soundproof windows to block out any outside noise. There is free WiFi in the lobby for all guests, and complimentary breakfast is offered in The Great Room. Drinks and light snacks are available at the Cock Pit, the hotel’s bar and lounge. There is also a business center in the hotel. Room rates in mind February start at 39.60 euros ($54) or 15,000 points for an award night.
The other IHG options in and around Frankfurt are the Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt City, Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt Messe, Holiday Inn Frankfurt City South, Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport North, and the Holiday Inn Airport Neu Isenberg.
Frankfurt Marriott: Located directly across from the Frankfurt Messe Fairgrounds, this is a great hotel for a business traveler. All guestrooms come with an alarm clock, desk and work area, coffee and tea maker, and a mini-fridge. The hotel also has a fitness center and safe deposit boxes are available at the front desk. You can dine at one of the three restaurants: Brasserie ICI, a french bistro, Cross for international food, and Champions American Sports Bar and Restaurant for American food and to watch the game on TV. This hotel is a Marriott Rewards Category 6 and room rates in February start at 110 ($149) euros per night or 30,000 points for an award night.
Westin Grand: Located a short walk from the Museum Embankment area, this hotel is near the Main River as well. All guestrooms come equipped with a plush leather armchair, work desk with ergonomic desk chair, 32-inch flat screen TV, Nespresso machine, the Westin Heavenly Bed, and White Tea by Westin bath amenities. Swim in the indoor pool, work out at the fitness center or rejuvenate at the Emotion Spa. Dine at Sushimoto, Grand Seven, San San for Chinese food or Motions for breakfast and brunch. The Westin Grand Frankfurt is an SPG Category 5 hotel, and room rates in mid February start at 169 euros ($228) or 16,000 Starpoints for an award night.
Le Meridien Parkhotel Frankfurt: This hotel is situated just a few blocks from the historic Romer, or City Hall. Each guestroom, designed in an Art Nouveau style, has an Italian marble bathroom, a complimentary bottle of mineral water, and LCD TV. There is an on-site business center and free access to the White Stone Lodge, a nearby facility providing fitness and pool options, as well as spa and beauty services. Parking costs 28 euros ($38) per day. The hotel has three restaurants: Le Parc, Casablanca, and the Beer Garden Le Jardin. This is an SPG Category 4 hotel, and room rates in mid February start at 125 euros ($169) or 10,000 Starpoints for an award night.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Fine Hotels and Resorts is a hotel program specifically for The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders. By booking through this portal, you receive added perks and benefits thrown in with your stay – sort of like you would with elite status or by booking through a travel agent with great contacts at a hotel.
Rocco Forte Villa Kennedy: Built in 1904, this historical building was originally a family home. Now, the Villa Kennedy is used as a luxury hotel, and sits on the banks of the Main River, an easy walk to many attractions in Frankfurt. Each of the 127 guestrooms was individually designed by Olga Polizzi and Martin Brudnizki. The rooms offer an armchair, working desk, sofa, dining table and bathrooms with heated floors and a separate walk-in shower. Some rooms have a French balcony with city views. The hotel offers a beautiful indoor pool and a fitness room. Dining options include Gusto or JFK Bar. Room rates in mid February start at 245 euros ($330).
Steigenberger Frankfurt Hof: Situated just steps away from the historic city center, this luxury hotel has 261 rooms and 42 suites. Each elegant guestroom comes with complimentary mineral water and in-room WiFi, and some have walk-in closets, as well as TVs in the bathrooms. The hotel also features a fitness center, 18 conference rooms for meetings, The Spa (which includes spa treatments, a sauna, steam room and Turkish hammam) and the Hommage Gentleman Barber shop. Dining options include the one Michelin-starred Restaurant Francais, Oscars, Hofgarten, Autorenbar and Cigarrum. Room rates in mid February start at 149.25 euros ($201) per night.
The Westin Grand is also an Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts property.
Other notable hotel options in Frankfurt include the hipsterific 25Hours Hotel by Levi’s, 25Hours Hotel The Goldman and Roomers Design Hotel, the opulent Jumeirah Frankfurt, and a variety of others including Falkenstein Grand Kempinski, Villa Rothschild Kempinski and the Hotel Hessicherhof.