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Steigenberger Hotel Köln£71
Dorint An der Messe Köln£107
Dorint Hotel am Heumarkt Köln£98
Centro Hotel Kommerz£49
Boutique 009 Köln-City£41
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Germany’s fourth-largest city, Cologne is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, near Maastricht. It spans the Rhine River and is best known for its Gothic cathedral, Germany’s most visited monument, which has awe-inspiring twin spires reaching 515ft (157m) into the sky.
There’s plenty to do here, from visiting world-class museums to sampling hearty Cologne specialities such as eisbein (pork knuckle) and Kölsch beer at one of the numerous brewpubs dotted around the city. There is also plenty of accommodation in Cologne, with a good selection of hotels ranging from hostels to palatial five-star properties.
The charming old town, or Altstadt, was largely reconstructed after World War II, but remains an atmospheric area to wander through on foot. This area is home to several top attractions, such as Cologne Cathedral, the adjacent Museum Ludwig and the historic Alter Markt (marketplace), where the city’s famous Christmas market takes place. Hotels near Cologne Cathedral range from budget hotels such as the simple and bright a&o Köln Dom and Brandenburger Hof, near the main railway station, to grand establishments such as the Excelsior Hotel Ernst, which has a Michelin-starred restaurant and rooms with views of the cathedral. For something in between, the contemporary Humboldt1 Palais-Hotel & Bar has only seven rooms, which ensures very attentive service.
Stay in Deutz, in the east of Cologne, for wonderful views of the river and the old town. Popular attractions here include the Hohenzollern Bridge, where couples fix padlocks to the railings and throw the key into the river in order to ensure everlasting love. When it comes to hotels in Deutz, exclusive five-star options include the Hyatt Regency Cologne. Looking for cheaper accommodation in Cologne? Consider the aptly-named but highly rated Penny Pincher Inn, which has dorm rooms and a communal kitchen.
The Neustadt-Nord area surrounds the old city and includes the creative hub of Belgisches Viertel (Belgian Quarter). Here you’ll find independent shops, trendy restaurants and hip nightspots on streets named after cities and provinces of Belgium. Hotels in Neustadt-Nord include die wohngemeinschaft Hostel, which has dorms and double rooms with quirky, individual themes, and THE QVEST hideaway, set in a stunning neo-Gothic building that used to house the city’s archives. An excellent four-star hotel in Cologne is Hotel NH Collection Köln Mediapark, which has views over an ornamental lake in the urban regeneration area of Köln Mediapark, now a creative and commercial hub.
On the outskirts of Cologne, the somewhat gritty and multicultural Ehrenfeld is gaining a reputation as the city’s next happening neighbourhood, where Lebanese and Turkish restaurants are set alongside hip coffee shops, boutiques and bars. It also has a vibrant street art scene, especially around Köln-Ehrenfeld train station. Hotels in Ehrenhof include the Black, which has dramatic monochromatic rooms, and the stylish high-rise Ameron Hotel Regent, which has a spa and an Italian restaurant.
Cologne’s relatively small size makes it very walkable, but there’s also an efficient train, tram and bus network. If you’re in Cologne on holiday, consider getting a KölnCard city pass. These are valid for either 24 or 48 hours and include unlimited travel on public transport and discounts at numerous museums and restaurants. Another good way to get around the city is by bicycle, as there are dedicated bike lanes and a bike-sharing system called nextbike.
Taxis are also plentiful and can be hailed down in the street. It’s not advisable to drive as parking is limited, but if you do, remember that Cologne is a low-emissions zone and you’ll need the green sticker on your car to prove your vehicle is compliant.
There are plenty of family-friendly hotels in Cologne, such as Hotel Lyskirchen, which has an indoor swimming pool, and Dorint Hotel am Heumarkt Köln, which is in easy walking distance of the main sights. There’s also plenty to keep kids entertained, with one definite highlight being the Cologne Chocolate Museum. Learn about the history of cocoa and the production processes used to make chocolate today – you can even sample a towering Lindt chocolate fountain as part of the experience. Another family-friendly attraction is the acclaimed Cologne Zoo, and a boat cruise down the Rhine River is also a fun way to see the city.