With its imposing skyline and rows of designer shops, it is easy to forget that there is more to Frankfurt than the banks that earned it the moniker ‘Manhattan of Germany’.
But beneath this glossy surface is a city with personality, a location that is both cultural and stylish enough for Berlin Fashion Week to make it its home from next year. Under Frankfurt’s skin is an enigmatic and unexpectedly vibrant metropolis with everything to offer.
With 48 hours to spare in Frankfurt, here’s where to stay, what to see and where to eat in this fabulous weekend destination.
Where to sleep
This boutique hotel is a newcomer to the city’s hospitality scene, having opened just a few months ago. It’s 128 rooms and suites were designed by the local team of Morgen Interiors, who combined industrial style with a plush, maximalistic aesthetic. Rooms feature concrete walls, Nespresso coffee makers, SuitePads for communicating with the front desk and toiletries from ethical skincare brand Grown Alchemist.
The rooftop bar has become a favourite with a local, fashionable crowd, offering bespoke cocktails, elevated street food, and views over the sparkling skyline and the up-and-coming area of Gallusviertel. On the ground floor is Berlin BBQ concept Chicago Williams, which promises ‘serious barbecuing’ for discerning meat-lovers.
On entering this design hotel you are transported to a world of burlesque elegance in the heart of Frankfurt’s bustling Bahnhofsviertel district. Velvet walls and black chandeliers create a sultry atmosphere in both the Roomers Bar and Burbank pan-Asian restaurant, while it’s 116 rooms feature sumptuous furnishings, dark parquet floors, Marshall sound system and freestanding bathtubs. The top-floor spa continues with the feeling of opulence and gives guests the ultimate in relaxation teamed with stunning views. Breakfast is served until 1pm at the weekend if you need a few more hours in bed.
South of the river is the palatial Villa Kennedy, a former stately home in leafy Sachsenhausen. This boldly luxurious five-star dates back to 1901. American President John F. Kennedy stayed in this hotel in 1963, after which the hotel’s name was modified in his honour.
The 127 rooms and 36 luxury suites offer a relaxed glamour, and designers Olga Polizzi and Martin Brudnizki have created a comfortable, warm and light environment.
Bathrooms feature heated floors, a walk in shower and Forte Organics products. Its enchanting internal courtyard is home to an Italian restaurant and is a stunning environment for alfresco dining away from the big city bustle.
Where to eat and drink
For an interesting lunch head to this indoor market hall where you can try local cuisine as well as admire the vast array of produce on sale. There are 156 stalls selling all kinds of fresh food including regional specialities. The best and most authentic Frankfurter sausage in the city can be found at Metzgerei Schreiber, which has been a local institution for decades and almost always has a long queue.
Daheim im Lorsbach Thal
This courtyard restaurant is located down such a tiny lane in Sachsenhausen that you might miss it, but please don’t. It is the place to try the region’s famous Green Sauce, which is made with yoghurt or sour cream and seven herbs, including chervil, and parsley. It can come served with boiled egg and potatoes, or with pork schnitzel and fried potatoes.
With a magnificent, panoramic view of the Frankfurt skyline, Franziska offers a contemporary take on German cuisine, such as Wagyu beef meatloaf, in an up-market setting. The restaurant was named after, and the menu was inspired by, the great-aunt of founder Christian Mook. Drinks are available one floor below, where the bar uses centrifuges, dehydrators, sous-vide cookers, liquid nitrogen and special maceration processes to produce innovative cocktails.
Situated between the banks of Sachsenhausen and a mid-river island, the Yachtklub boat bar is definitely one of the coolest places in Frankfurt to spend an evening people-watching at sunset. The area is a playground for paddle boarders, kayakers and boaters, who sail by the bar and sometimes stop off for a drink. With DJs on Friday and Saturday nights, it is definitely one of the places to be in Frankfurt.
What to do
Frankfurt was once the best preserved medieval city in Europe, but bombing in World War II put paid to that. Immediately after the conflict they restored their original square, including traditional, gingerbread house-style half-timber houses, and the stone-built Römer, which is now the town hall. In late 2018, however, they finished a €200million project to rebuild a large section of the original cobbled centre, recreating 15 houses to their original plans, and a further 20 in a sympathetic style. The area has become one of the chicest in Frankfurt, with wine bars, independent boutiques and up-market restaurants to enjoy.
Across the River Main is the old village of Sachsenhausen, once an area that housed the city’s servants, but now a bustling, artistic hub. The riverside is where culture-vulture’s should head, as the ‘museum-mile’ includes one of Germany’s most prominent art galleries The Städel Museum, the German Film Museum, and the Museum of Communication, alongside many more. Sachsenhausen is also where the best nightlife can be found, and if you venture into the area’s winding lanes you will find cocktail bars, dive bars and plenty in-between.
When strolling Frankfurt’s streets it is no secret the city has money. The sheer number of Bentleys, Ferraris or Aston Martins driving by certainly shows Frankfurters’ love of luxury. For some serious shopping head to Goethe Strasse in the centre, a pedestrianised, tree-lined lane with windows to admire including Hermes, Bvlgari, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. For independent stores go to the bohemian area of Nordend-Ost and look for Berger Strasse, where quirky boutiques and street markets meet cafe culture.
Finding nature in a big city is a rare thing, but you don’t have to go far here. Frankfurt is home to a forest that spans 48 square kilometres within the city’s boundaries. The area once belonged to the Teutonic Knights, who only allowed Frankfurt’s authorities to use it for grazing rights after a 100-year fight ending in 1484. Farmers still use the land today, but there are also 450km of walking paths and nature trails, as well as peaceful seating areas, making this something of a local secret. A wooden tower offers unusual views over the treetops towards the bustle of the city.