Four chic hotel stays in historic Cologne, Germany

The German city is embracing its modern side with a raft of stylish new rooms.

By Julia Buckley
Published 20 Feb 2021, 06:06 GMT, Updated 20 Feb 2021, 14:23 GMT
25hours Hotel The Circle, a Cologne offshoot of the quirky German hotel chain.

25hours Hotel The Circle, a Cologne offshoot of the quirky German hotel chain. 

Photograph by Steve Herud

1. Urban Loft Köln

It has world-class galleries and a titan of a gothic cathedral, but while visitors love Cologne for its heritage, it seems hoteliers prefer things to be altogether more modern. Case in point: this, the first in a new offshoot from a traditional hotel brand. Althoff Hotels — formerly known for its ‘Collection’ properties — launched its new project, Urban Lofts, in October 2020.

Rather than a classic hotel, this is a self-described ‘experience’. Murals swaddle the outside of the building, while inside, wide open spaces with plenty of natural light and bright colours (think millennial pink) vie for your attention. 

The ‘loft’ theme is subtle in the rooms, too, with faux brick walls behind the beds, cement-grey ceilings and doorless cupboards putting everything on display. Don’t think this is a bachelor’s vision of an urban loft, though; that pastel-pink palette is back in some rooms, with more sober sky blues elsewhere.

If you aim to travel like a local, rather than a visitor, then this is the place for you. There are rotating exhibitions, pop-up shops and breakfast comes as a box rather than a great buffet, so you can hit the streets immediately. Stick around on-site, however, and things never stray from cool: from the rooftop, the view of the cathedral is paired with the glass expanse of the train station, whose tracks curl round the building. Inventing a new brand to compete with other, bigger chains feels, aptly, like a lofty ambition, but here in Cologne, you can see it working. Doubles from £84, room only. 

2. 25hours Hotel The Circle

Germany’s kooky, young-at-heart 25hours brand is hardly a curveball for Cologne’s hip hotel scene, though its curved exterior and circle-filled rooms (from mirrors to disco balls) sure give it a go. The bright, peppy palette harks back to the 1960s, while the eighth-floor Monkey Bar offers spectacular views of the cathedral’s twin spires. Doubles from £95, room only. 

3. V8 Hotel

There are themed hotels and then there’s the V8, which goes the whole petrolhead hog, right down to the cars in old hangars. Why? It’s part of Motorworld, Michael Schumacher’s homage to cars, at Cologne’s historic airfield. For the full experience, go for one of the Car Suites, where you’ll share your room with a classic motor, separated only by glass. Doubles from £67, room only. 

4. The Qvest

Equally cool but with very different roots is this gothic building, which once housed the city archives. Expect eclectic rooms, from whitewashed and modern to churchy and flooded with light thanks to arched windows. Modern photography and mid-century furniture add to the impression that The Qvest is effortlessly cool — and knows it. Doubles from £81, room only. 

Published in the March 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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