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This week, Con Nast Traveler took a minute to examine some of the world's most unique and gorgeous hotel bathrooms. Ever. Sure, a few classics made it onto the list—like the Mandarin Oriental New York and the Hyatt on the Bund—but the above photo caught our eye. It's of the public mens bathroom inside the Goldman 25hours in Frankfurt, Germany. We wonder what gets used to clean these things: a toilet swab, or a toothbrush?
Sorry, Starwood; we're just not that into your Sheraton Hotel & Towers at Germany's Frankfurt International Airport. Mainly our hate is due to some of the suckiest hotel WiFi we've ever encountered (and a friend who was there last week confirms it's still bad), but also because we're about to get some options. As we reported earlier, the super modern, super shiny Squaire building across from the airport was due to open both a Hilton and a Hilton Garden Inn this spring. Sadly, both seem to be delayed until September.
Focusing on the Hilton for a bit, it's worth pointing out that this hotel isn't designed to be some massive airport conference hotel; its 248 rooms and suites will instead focus on design, with a boutique hotel attitude. Rooms are projected to begin around 199 Euro per night, and it's going to have the best location for catching one of the German ICE trainsthe hotel sits atop a station that sees some 185 high-speed trains daily.
See that slick new, futuristic building in the photo above? It's called "The Squaire" and it's all cozied up to the major European hub of Frankfurt Airport; check out an awesome photo of it here. The Squaire, though only several months old, is already gearing up to open a hotel to end the tyranny of the airport's Sheraton Hotel. The new oneset to debut in March 2011will be The Hilton Frankfurt Airport, and it should be quite the shiny playground for business travelers.
With only 248 rooms and suites, it's not planning to become a behemoth conference hotel, but to be the boutique-y, stylish standout on airport grounds. Plus, since it's within The Squaire, that means landscaped atriums, art installations, shopping, restaurants and even a medical center in the same building. Not to mention that The Squaire is also a major rail station on its ground level, with "185 daily high-speed rail links across Europe." Indeed, last time we whizzed through Germany on one of the ICE trains, we remember going underneath this building.
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Even though many budget-friendly hotels have adopted free internet as part of the room rate, the fight for complimentary WiFi is far from over. Our latest battlefront is the Sheraton Hotel & Tower at Frankfurt Airport in Germany, which had the most appallingly bad internet policy and connection we've ever used.
Thankfully we got around paying $250 a night for this airport hotel by being a guest of Lufthansa, but we still had the pesky internet charge. And here's the policy: Guests get a free 30 minutes of internet per day in the lobby only. In the rooms, connectivity costs 8 Euro per hour, or a flat 19 Euro for 24 hours. You must create a user ID for your account.
After successfully hooking up to the free half-hour in the lobby on our iPhone at check-in, the situation looked manageable. That is, until we sat down in our room to begin the real work.
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The largest hotel suite in all of Germany, as we showed you yesterday, sits at the top of a palatial private villa turned 5-star hotel, in the ritzy neighborhood of Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt. This property, the Villa Kennedy of the Rocco Forte Collection, is a restored historical complex originally built for a banker family in 1904, and which also housed the Max Planck Institut for the Advancement of Science before becoming a luxury hotel.
These days, the expansive courtyard and sprawling suites are known more for housing celebs, politicians and CEOs than test tubes and scientists, but one thing remains the same: that this is an exclusive, pristine property.
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Above the staircase where President Kennedy once stood during his famous visit to Germany to give his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, now sits the country's largest hotel suite. Villa Kennedy's Speyer Suite measures an impressive 3,509 square feet, has three bedrooms, a chef's kitchen with Gaggenau appliances, and completely bulletproof windows.
Chances are, since the Villa Kennedy (of the Rocco Forte Collection of hotels) is the best show in town when it comes to 5-star hotels in Frankfurt, that when the big celebrities and politicians are in town, they stay in this suite. It also helps that it's got a private elevator, panic buttons in the rooms (just in case), a massive entrance hall, and an impressive dining room inside one of the Villa's turrets, that lends itself well to interviews and photoshoots.
No, we didn't stay here, but just had a drool-tastic look around.
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This is a tale of a traveler who blind-booked a European hotel on Hotwire only a few days before traveling, and actually got a serious deal. We told you all about our $105 night at the "5-star" Westin Grand Frankfurt yesterday, but now we've got to break out with the full review, including all the juicy details of this centrally-located property, and how a Hotwire customer is treated.
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Have you seen the good news? Good for Americans and not-so-good for Europeans, though. The Euro has dropped significantly in value recently, making summer European trips very appealing and affordable. We just got back from Germany ourselves, and on top of reaping the benefits of better exchange rates, we also blind-booked a hotel for one night in Frankfurt, and majorly scored on the deal.
With a last-minute extra night in the city, we had to make a quick decision for a hotel that would ideally be luxurious, but not too expensive that we'd be traumatized at losing the room charge in case the Iceland volcano threw off our entire trip. Thus, we turned to Hotwire and spotted a 5-star for $105 per night. That's 105 dollars even.
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Inside the lobby atrium at the Villa Kennedy
Last time we popped into a Rocco Forte Collection hotel, it was nearly a year ago when we treated ourselves to tea on the rooftop terrace of Berlin's Hotel de Rome. But then, it is slightly difficult to hit all the Forte uber-luxury hotels; there are only 13 all around the world.
This week however, since we're back in Germany, we had to get ourselves all up in the Villa Kennedy, a 163-room 5-star property which was once a private family home and also a stop on President John F. Kennedy's trip to Germany for his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.
Although we didn't sleep herejust downed a cappuccino and toured the magical castle-like placeexpect a full photo gallery and more early next week. Lookif a big name celebrity or official is in Frankfurt, then this is the place they're calling home temporarily. It's not completely out of range for regular travelers though, since weekend rates start at 220 Euro per night.
Dipping into the HotelChatter Flickr Pool today we found this shot of the Le Meridiend Parkhotel Frankfurt which we admit caught our eye because of the interesting, non-fugly carpeting. But also a bonus was this review from Flickr member Spencer D Allen who writes:
Very artsy hotel, very unique. There are 2 towers, one with very modern (almost W hotel style) decor, the other side with a much more sophistocated [sic]and almost old world luxury. this room is from the old world tower.
The location is very unique, right near the red light district.... it's not for kids. It definitely proves the stereotype of Frankfurt being boring very, very wrong.
We're intrigued already. And we have to say that room is considered part of the "old world tower" but it looks a lot newer than some new hotels we've seen lately. Of course, there could always be some clunky armoire hiding a chunky TV that we just can't see in this shot.
Considering the Le Meridien for your next trip to the exotic Frankfurt? Room rates start at 145 Euros for the hotel's historic wing. The modern design rooms are bumped up to 225 Euros. Check those rooms out here.
The Christmas market is as much a part of the holiday season in Europe as the two-tiered shopping mall in America. From Nov. 30 to Dec. 23, Frankfurt hosts one of Germany's oldest and largest Christmas markets. Coinciding with the Winter Wonderland, Cities Direct has three-night packages starting at £149 per person that includes return flight from London Stansted, and a three-night stay at participating hotels like Bristol Hotel Frankfurt.
Though the rooms are small, guests comment that the proximity to downtown activities like the market ensures you'll be spending little time indoors. The hotel has that urban, modern feel the Germans love, with clean lines and basic taupe/black colors. Plus, there's cow-patterned chairs in the lobby. Surely all this will be a respite for your eyes from the bright reds and greens and the clutter-filled shop counters that characterize the season.