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Battle of the Frankfurt Airport hotels: Which Hilton or Marriott is best?

Aug. 13, 2022
14 min read
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If you're flying through Frankfurt Airport (FRA) during this summer of European travel disruptions, chances are you've thought about the nearby hotel options in case your travel plans go awry while at this busy hub.

Although it's never great to get stranded abroad at an airport, the good news is that there are four convenient lodging options within walking distance of the airport's Terminal 1, from which Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners, as well as some other major carriers, fly.

Marriott Bonvoy members can choose from either the Frankfurt Airport Marriott or the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and Conference Center, while those with Hilton Honors accounts might look toward the Hilton Frankfurt Airport or the Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport. All four are solid choices, but we wondered how they stacked up against each other.

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To answer that question, we spent a night hotel hopping among the four of them. Here's who each of these four hotels will be best for — and what you can expect at each one.

The Marriott match-up

First up, our take on Marriott Bonvoy's conjoined hotels just across from the airport's Terminal 1.

Frankfurt Airport Marriott Hotel

Best for: Tired travelers willing to spend more for a cushy stay without a long journey between Terminal 1 and a bed.

Location: Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1. Simply take an escalator up from the departures level, walk across an enclosed pedestrian bridge and make a right into the shared entrance of the Marriott and the Sheraton, then veer off to the left toward the Marriott's lobby. The time from hotel to terminal? A mere two minutes.

The price point: At 170 euros ($173) for a one-night Deluxe King room stay in the first week of June, the price was well worth the experience. Award nights through Marriott's Bonvoy loyalty program will cost 31,000-41,000 points apiece depending on the date.

The vibe: The lobby was beautiful and had a chic and classy vibe compared to the hectic hallways of Frankfurt Airport. The warm neutrals and mixture of suede, leather and wood materials presented a comfy — and somewhat sexy — respite from the hustle and bustle of travel. The sitting area looked like the living room of a well-off Manhattanite who had just a little bit too much money to spend on furniture.

The dining area felt fresh and even worthy of an Instagram post thanks to the sophisticated contrast of the green leather seating and the yellow glassware, the brass fixtures and the airiness of the skylit space. Just beware the mid-morning rush when large groups of travelers tend to clog the area waiting to check out.

It truly felt like a little haven away from the chaos of travel, which we all know too well. Though the hotel shares some common public areas with the Sheraton around the corner, it still felt individualistic and approachable, and the staff was accommodating enough to enable an early check-in.

The rooms: The decor was straightforward but with little quirks, like quotes by Goethe (a Frankfurt native) on the walls, and the industrial nature of the design felt like a deliberate allusion to the nearby airport. A decent-size desk was excellent for getting some work done during a layover and the in-room Krups espresso machine with complimentary coffee pods and accompaniments can be a jetlag-busting lifesaver.

The gray-tiled bathroom lay somewhere between institutional and oasis-like with a basin-style sink, a backlit vanity and half-glassed-in shower whose steady water pressure made sudsing up with the provided thisworks products a refreshing experience.

Drinking and dining: The hotel's public amenities, many of which are shared with the adjacent Sheraton, felt upscale and private, providing a nice respite from the crowds circulating throughout the busy airport. The Eatery Kitchen and Bar, which connects the Marriott with the Sheraton, is open for lunch and dinner and is centered around a bright atrium with plenty of counter and restaurant-style seating to either side of the central bar. At one end there was a Starbucks outlet for caffeine on the go, though the restaurant serves food and drinks throughout the day and evening, including fresh items like Caesar salad with grilled chicken ($26), pan-fried hake with Dijon sauce ($31) and a Marriott signature burger ($25).

Guests can partake of breakfast at the Sheraton, including a copious selection of rolls, assorted sausages and a crowd favorite, chocolate museli, though expect a hefty bill of 32 euros ($33) per person if you don't get free breakfast through elite status.

Overall: The lobby was chic, the service was spot on and the food options were varied and fresh, especially after a decent amount of travel and eating on the go. The room decor was more playful than you might expect, and though the hotel was more expensive than the Sheraton, the upsell is well worth it.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Center

Best for: More budget-minded Bonvoy loyalists looking for a better-priced but just as convenient option as the Marriott.

Location: You can access the hotel from Terminal 1 the same way you get to the Marriott, only head right instead of left to get to its lobby.

The price point: We paid 149 euros ($152) for a one-night stay in early June in a standard king room. (Cash rates are now considerably higher, though that might be the summer rush.) Points redemptions range from 22,000 to 30,000 points per night for a standard room in the next few months.

The vibe: Despite a new and attractive lobby, this large hotel — it was originally 1,008 rooms before the Marriott was carved out of it in 2020 — has guestrooms and hallways that are drab (but certainly functional). The maze of corridors were dimly lit and spartan, with the exception of room number signs featuring an airplane motif — an obvious reminder that yes, you are staying at an airport hotel.

This hotel shares common areas, a fitness center and a restaurant with the Marriott. It's an example of some brand synergy in the Marriott portfolio that was made possible by the company's 2016 acquisition of Starwood — of which Sheraton was a part.

The rooms: Standard rooms live up to that categorization, measuring approximately 291 square feet with standard, if quickly aging accouterments like king-size beds with blonde wood frames, woven fabric headboards and well-worn white linens. Business travelers can get some work done at awkwardly placed (yet well-powered) elliptical wooden desks and stay ahead of jetlag thanks to the provided tea and coffee supplies (no espresso machines here). The wall-mounted televisions have streaming capabilities. Sparse by comparison, the almost clinical (and glaringly lit) bathrooms wouldn't look out of place in a hospital ward and have hard-to-navigate shower-tub combos, though the (somewhat confusing) mix of Le Grand Bain and Acca Kappa bath products are an overall plus.

Dining and drinking: The Sheraton shares a lobby with the Marriott, along with the Eatery. Its signature burger is a sizzling patty placed on a tasty sourdough roll with a bowl of crispy fries. Though tempting, the berry tarte flambee ($14) looks more like a berry-topped pizza than the Alsatian delight it's meant to be.

Overall: The Sheraton tends to be priced much lower than the Marriott -- often 100 euros ($101) less per night -- but shares the same location and amenities. If you can forgo a newer, fresher room, then this hotel is a great value.

The Hilton head-to-head

Next up, we checked into Hilton's sibling properties at the Squaire, a dramatic, spaceship-like office building with a few shops and restaurants that is connected to the airport and its train station via an indoor walkway.

Hilton Frankfurt Airport

Best for: Hilton Honors members who don't mind spending 10 more minutes walking to the airport along with spending a few extra euros on a slightly elevated hotel experience

Location: The Hilton Frankfurt Airport is located in the architecturally singular Squaire, Germany's largest office building, which itself is built on top of the Frankfurt Airport's long-distance train station. It's about a 10-minute walk from Terminal 1, and about a five-minute walk past the entrance to the Marriott and Sheraton via the enclosed pedestrian bridge that connects the airport and the train station. There are a few more escalators and turns to navigate, but great signage makes it easy to get between the hotel and airport. The building has a mall-like atmosphere, with some stores and restaurants. A Burger King and Starbucks are located right outside the hotel entrance, with a Rossmann drugstore nearby for purchasing any needed travel essentials.

(Photo by Ethan Klapper/The Points Guy)

The price point: Rates in early June were 161 euros ($164) for a one-night stay in a standard queen room. (Cash rates are now considerably higher.) At check-in, an upgrade to a standard king room was offered for just 5 euros ($5.09). This hotel participates in the Hilton Honors program with award stays that range from 32,000 to 70,000 points per night for a standard room in the coming months.

The vibe: The architecturally interesting lobby almost feels like something out of a futuristic science fiction movie. It's also a bit sterile: The airy, open space could use a bit more furniture and lacked much seating. The lobby bar was closed during our stay in early June and was only used for a few hours each evening to host the hotel's evening reception for elite Hilton Honors members. Re-opening that bar might work wonders for livening up the lobby.

In contrast to the two Bonvoy properties, this hotel never felt particularly crowded, despite being located so close to one of Europe's busiest airports. One big downside to the design is that the stunning, glass-enclosed lobby isn't air conditioned which creates a greenhouse effect — making it very hot in the late spring afternoon sun.

The rooms: Rooms are bright and large, if slightly impersonal, with neutral-toned woods and upholstery — though the boldly patterned carpeting and bright red, modernistic wingback chairs provide a little character. The large glass desks feel outdated at this point, but provided plenty of room to work, with a flatscreen TV mounted right above. Bathrooms are spacious and include both a soaking tub with tiled backsplash and a separate walk-in shower stocked with fragrant Crabtree & Evelyn products. Sizable closets, well-stocked minibars and easy-to-use hot water kettles with instant coffee complete the business traveler's trifecta of in-room amenities. My exterior-facing room had a view of the autobahn and, ironically, the Sheraton.

Drinking and dining: The hotel's main eatery is Rise restaurant, located near the massive lobby. At the time of our stay, Rise had limited hours and offered different buffets throughout the day. The 34 euro ($35) breakfast buffet was both expensive and extensive — a good value for those with Hilton Gold status and above, who receive a food and beverage credit as part of their elite perks, and a pricey splurge for everyone else. The buffet's vast selection of breakfast breads, cold cuts, pancakes, sausages and yogurts should have options for every appetite. However, more budget-conscious travelers might want to skip this indulgence and grab a much less expensive breakfast sandwich at the Burger King or one of the other grab-and-go establishments nearby.

Overall: Aside from its singular setting, there's not much to distinguish the Hilton Frankfurt Airport from a Hilton anywhere else in the world. The decor is somewhat bland and the in-room amenities are fine, if unremarkable. That said, this could be a decent use of points when room rates soar during busy times of year, and a bargain at other times.

Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport

Best for: Thrifty travelers who want to earn or burn Hilton points at an affordable rate.

Location: Follow the directions above for Hilton Frankfurt Airport, but turn left immediately before entering the lobby of the Hilton.

The price point: The rate for a queen room was 151 euros ($154) with a Hilton Honors discount, or 27,000-50,000 points per night, which is not expensive, but perhaps not merited by the amenities and accommodations on offer. The general atmosphere felt aloof, and the color combinations of bright green accents with red and brown sprinkled throughout come off as both generic and odd. It made the design feel like an afterthought, which also made the hotel feel impersonal. This is definitely a pass-through hotel, but if you only need it for a quick stay, then maybe it's the winner.

The vibe: Small and stark, the lobby had a few squared-off sofas for lounging by the no-nonsense check-in desks, but did not feel like a place to hang out. The hotel does deserve a plus for glass elevators that whisk you up to guest rooms through the central atrium.

The rooms: Rooms feel slightly smaller and more basic than at the next-door Hilton. The office chairs felt like Staples castoffs, while solid wooden desks and bed frames aren't quite offset by the dim accent lighting. The bathrooms are more compact than at the Hilton, with shower-tub combinations rather than separate installations (though you can still enjoy the same Crabtree & Evelyn products). Fancy a preflight cup of coffee? You'll find the same instant coffee kettle setup as at the Hilton.

Drinking and dining: The Restaurant is closed at the moment for lunch and dinner (this is described as all-day dining on its website but with its hours listed as 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.). You can visit it for breakfast, when it offers an American buffet for 25 euros ($26). There are also paid grab-and-go options from the Pavillion Pantry, which offers a selection of snacks and sweet treats. Hilton Garden Inn guests also can venture over to the neighboring Hilton to eat, according to a front desk manager.

Overall: If you just need a quick rest before or between flights and don't care about other amenities, the Hilton Garden Inn Frankfut Airport is just fine. However, if you're going to spend any time in your room or want a convenient on-site restaurant (without having to venture out into the Squaire), then you'll probably be better off at the Hilton.

Checking out

If you're traveling through Frankfurt Airport, you certainly have some solid hotel options in case you get stuck there unexpectedly.

The Frankfurt Airport Marriott has an unbeatable location and is the newest of the hotels; a beautiful, spotless property with a thoughtful design.

The Hilton Frankfurt Airport is a farther walk from the terminal, but also a winner, with nice-enough design and highly functional rooms. Food and beverage options at this property are pricey and limited, but many other options abound just outside the front door.

The third full-service property, the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Center, is co-located with the Marriott and also is very convenient, though its dark, dated design and sterile bathrooms leave a bit to be desired.

Finally, budget-conscious travelers should be satisfied with the Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport, which is at a lower price point than its full-service neighbors but does not sacrifice the convenience.

If you end up staying at one of these properties, we sure hope you're there willingly and not because an airline meltdown sent you there. But in any case, we're glad to report that you shouldn't have a problem enjoying a decent stay at any of them.

Featured image by Frankfurt Airport Hilton. (Photo by Ethan Klapper/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases