By Marilyn Heimburger
Photos by Don Heimburger
The name “Steigenberger” in the hotel business stands for hospitality at its best, and the Frankfurter Hof in Frankfurt, Germany doesn’t disappoint. From the moment you walk through the stately pillars of the 136-year-old façade, across the courtyard with its outdoor dining tables covered with crisp white linens, into the elegant reception area, you sense the 5-star luxury.
From the doorbell in the hall to the “Tilevision” flat screen TV in the bathroom, the spacious rooms speak comfort. The beautifully appointed rooms boast a luxurious firm bed, large flat screen TVs, AC, high-speed internet access, a bathroom area with tub and double sink, and separate small rooms for the toilet and the shower. Bathrooms have hairdryers and outlets in both 110 and 220 volts that fit plugs for U.S. appliances without needing an adaptor.
Remarkable, considering the location of the hotel in the middle of Frankfurt’s business district, was the absolute absence of outside noise in the room, allowing for a good night’s sleep.
The breakfast buffet is in the Hofgarten, one of the four restaurants at the Frankfurter Hof. An order for coffee brings a small individual pot to the table. Espressos are also available to order. The buffet caters to all international tastes: from the German meat, cheese and Brotchen, to American bacon and eggs; from Asian specialties, to a full English breakfast; an omelet station, juices, cereals, grains, breads and pastries. Also open for lunch, the Hofgarten seating is available indoors or in the adjacent courtyard.
Chef cooking breakfast in the Frankfurter Hof breakfast room; below is the extensive morning buffet.
Other restaurants at the Frankfurter Hof include the Japanese IROHA, deemed among the best sushi restaurants in town; Oscar’s, a more casual bistro with its own terrace and bar; and the elegant gourmet Restaurant Francais, which has earned a Michelin star for the last three years.
Another attraction in the hotel is the Autorenbar, or Author’s Bar, at which you can have a late continental breakfast, light lunch, or classic high tea. With live piano music to entertain you in the evening, the room is especially popular during the annual Frankfurt International Book Fair, when it hosts receptions with visiting authors.
In the afternoons or evenings, smokers can relax in the Cigarrum lounge with a selection fine wines and chocolates.
Opened in 1876, the Frankfurter Hof grandly offered 250 rooms, 20 banquet rooms, and dining for 800, with elevators and steam heating. A few years later it boasted the first public phone and the first electric lighting in Frankfurt. Its international popularity grew steadily until the Second World War. In 1940 Albert Steigenberger became the major stockholder of the hotel and took over its management.
In March 1944 bomb attacks destroyed all but the façade of the hotel. Rebuilding started four years later, and by 1961 the Frankfurter Hof was the largest hotel in the Federal Republic of Germany.
While the Old World façade implies a sense of history, the deluxe hotel’s 280 rooms and 41 suites, 18 banquet rooms, four restaurants, bar and Wellness Club have been continuously restored and renovated, with the latest work on the second floor being completed just this past spring.
It is ideally located in the center of Frankfurt’s business district, a short walk from the Frankfurt train station, the Main River, the shopping district, and the historic half-timbered building area around the town hall, called Roemer, where museums and restaurants abound.
The heart of downtown Frankfurt
If the location and luxurious amenities aren’t enough to bring you to the Frankfurter Hof, come for its enthusiastic and knowledgeable concierge, Jurgen Carl. With 50 years of experience at that post, Herr Carl rejected the idea of retirement to continue doing the job he loves. With encouragement from his fans, he has even authored a book about his craft. He will greet you with a genuine smile, eager to answer your travel questions.
Since so many trips to Germany begin with a flight to Frankfurt, the Frankfurter Hof is an ideal place to pamper yourself with a good night’s rest, fortifying meals, and travel tips before you venture out on your European travels.
See the hotel’s photostream on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/steigenberger/sets/72157625885624181