Cologne’s best design hotels
Good night, sleep tight
Until a few years ago, travellers with an eye for design and gorgeous furniture really didn’t have it easy. Saggy beds, ankle-deep pile carpets and utilitarian furniture were the order of the day. Things have changed, thankfully for me and for all those who appreciate stylish surroundings both at home and on the road. A rising number of hotels are starting to recognise the value of good design and high standards. And by “design”, I don’t mean a box-spring bed in every room. To me, design is a concept that brings together fabrics, colours and furniture to form a coherent whole, turning the hotel into a place where guests feel comfortable and at home. A place to spend time in when it’s raining, a home from home where a good 12 hours’ sleep is not out of the question, and where digital nomads can hang out and get some work done. Or a place that you look forward to coming back to after a day roaming an unfamiliar city.
I’m a Cologne resident, so I’m not your typical tourist or hotel resident but I’d sure love to be one. After all, Cologne is home to some very swanky design hotels, with more scheduled to open in the near future. I’m often asked for tips on where to stay in Cologne, so here’s my favourite design hotels in the city.
In close proximity to the Romanesque basilica of St Gereon is The Qvest, housed in a former city archive centre. As you walk through the twilit streets and glimpse the hotel’s illuminations for the first time, you feel transported to another age. And the impression lingers once you’re through the front door. The Qvest’s design team have cleverly combined the building’s historic architecture with modern design. If you like Bauhaus and mid-century furniture, you’ll love this place. The rooms feature designer furniture by Vitra and Gubi alongside art and personal items placed there by interior designer Michael Kaune, the lead designer on this project. The Qvest is gorgeous and I love it – alas, great design doesn’t come cheap.
Gereonskloster 12, 50670 Cologne
Doubles from EUR 220/night
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is the only design on the east bank of the river, or “Schäl Sick”, if you want to sound local. Just off the trade fair grounds, The New Yorker sports a rough industrial charm that is particularly apparent in the hotel’s club. The rooms are a mix of classic and modern, with a communal loft space where residents can cook meals together or work (which I have tried out myself). The New Yorker is also special in that just next door, there’s a second wing with apartments for longer-term residents, many of them creative types who are in Cologne for work and need a temporary home from home. But the apartments are also great for families. They’re housed in an old building, providing an attractive contrast to the stylish, modern sister property next door.
The New Yorker Hotel
Deutz-Mülheimer Strasse 204 , 51063 Cologne
Doubles from EUR 90/night
What else could you expect from a hotel with “art” in its name! Art is certainly the name of the game in this colourful design hotel – and you know it the minute you enter the lobby. Splashes of colour in the shape of comfy chairs are dotted around the reception area, inviting you to put your feet up and relax after a busy day’s sightseeing. More than 300 works of Korean art are placed around the hotel, while the rooms are classic but still creative. art’otel also benefits from a killer location right in the middle of the Rheinauhafen district. The Cathedral and the Old Town are a stone’s throw from here, and if this place doesn’t have enough art for you, just stroll over to nearby Museum Ludwig to see its major pop art collection – plus the third biggest Picasso collection in the world.
Holzmarkt 4, 50676 Cologne
Doubles from EUR 84/night
The Hopper Hotels have long since been among the best accommodation the city has to offer. Cologne has three of them – in the Belgian Quarter, near the central train station and in the Südstadt, so you’re spoilt for choice. All three are located in historic buildings which provide a great backdrop for their charming designer interiors. The rooms are almost minimalist, with lots of wood. The L. Fritz restaurant, part of the city centre Hopper Hotel, is very popular among Cologne residents. By the way, L. Fritz Gruber – after whom the restaurant is named – is the co-founder of the global photography show photokina. In other words: if you want a historic but modern place to lay your head, Hopper Hotels fit the bill perfectly.
Hopper Hotel St. Antonius
Dagobertstrasse 32, 50668 Cologne
Doubles from EUR 105/night
The Midtown Hotel is the latest project by Cologne architect Johannes Adams, who also owns The New Yorker. When an old hotel on the Ring closed down, Adams saw the property’s potential and designed a small but exquisite boutique hotel in the heart of the city centre. Its 40 rooms follow the motto “enjoy the difference”, which here translates to a well-thought-out concept designed to make guests feel comfortable while offering a modern, functional environment. The concept is an unmitigated success – the rooms are comfy but still speak a clear design language. This will be particularly appreciated by travellers who prefer to stay in smaller, more intimate hotels. I’m certainly one of them.
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring 48, 50672 Cologne
Doubles from EUR 130/night