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Business Travel Guide: Frankfurt, Germany


No doubt about it: the business of Frankfurt is business. The metropolis in the heart of Germany is a financial powerhouse and a major player on the world's economic stage. The stock exchange, industrial giants and banks — most notably the European Central Bank—reside in downtown's forest of high-rises that has garnered Frankfurt the nickname "Mainhattan." Its impressive skyline is mirrored in the Main River, a strategic ribbon that has brought traders to town since medieval times. These days, some of the world's biggest trade shows, including the famous Frankfurt Book Fair, take place in high-tech halls near the airport, the largest and busiest on the Continent. English is widely spoken, and the fact that non-Germans account for over a quarter of Frankfurt's population generates an openness and cosmopolitan spirit rarely found elsewhere in the country. So don't think the city is all about work and no fun! Locals definitely like to party, whether in cutting-edge clubs or traditional apple cider pubs. Culture vultures can swoop down on first-rate museums, galleries and the opera, while history buffs should make a beeline to the birthplaces of German democracy and of literary giant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency: Euro

The currency in Frankfurt is the euro, which became Germany's official currency in 2002. It is divided into 100 cents. Euros come in denominations of five, ten, twenty, fifty, 100, 200 and 500 notes, one and two euro coins, and one, two, five, ten, twenty and fifty cent coins. For the easiest way to get cash as well as the best exchange rate, use your US ATM card at any ATM. The fees are small (usually under $5), depending mostly on your bank at home. Most restaurants and stores will except credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard; American Express is accepted less frequently. Only small shops and restaurants or bars will not except cards.

Transportation:

Frankfurt Airport is Germany's largest airport and the second busiest in Europe after London-Heathrow. You'll arrive at one of two terminals, which are linked by a free, automated train called the Sky Line. Hiring a cab is by far the easiest and most convenient way to get downtown or to the trade show grounds (Messe). The ride takes about twenty to thirty minutes and costs around €25. Cab drivers expect a small tip (about 5%) and may levy a surcharge for heavy luggage or late-night rides. If you'd rather rent your own wheels, you'll find all major international car rental agencies represented at both terminals. There are also clean, speedy and frequent downtown-bound trains departing from the Regionalbahnhof (regional train station) below Terminal 1 (access is via Level 0).

Information:

Frankfurt's main daily newspaper is the well-respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is also widely read in other parts of Germany. Börsen-Zeitung is the main financial paper and Journal Frankfurt is the best source for entertainment listings. USA Today, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are among the English-language papers widely sold in hotels and at newsstands.


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Where to Stay

Radisson SAS Hotel, Frankfurt
Franklinstrasse 65
49-69-770-1550
www.frankfurt.radissonsas.com

 
A guest room at the Radisson SAS Hotel, Frankfurt in Germany
 

The Radisson is no ordinary hotel. Shaped like a giant glass-and-steel Ferris wheel, it has become an instant city landmark. The extravagant architecture smoothly segues inside, where you can match your mood to four different room styles, from flashy to sophisticated, subdued to bright. An upbeat, contempo vibe pervades the entire hotel, aided by clever light effects, bold colors and eye-catching elements: suspended glass-encased "Winetower" anyone? Its two restaurants are no less striking. Terrace offers outdoor dining and a menu of lighter fare—as well as pizzas, steaks and burgers—while the more casual Gaia makes culinary forays to the Mediterranean. Smoking is a no-no in more than half of the 428 rooms and suites, which sport the gamut of gadgets, including flat screen TVs, videos and free high-speed internet. There are nine conference rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a 6,500-square-foot ballroom. Relaxation zones include a health and beauty center and the clubby wunderBAR LOUNGE for after-hours martini-and-cigar sessions.

Frankfurt Marriott Hotel
Hamburger Allee 2
49-69-79550
www.marriott.com/fradt

 
A guest room at the Frankfurt Marriott Hotel in Germany
 

The generous lobby of this classic 588-room business hotel leads to a handful of eateries, including a French brasserie and the Cheers-inspired Champions Sports Bar, decorated with boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali and other paraphernalia. Nearby is the 24-hour business center where you can rent small offices and rely on friendly staff to help you ink that deal. Meeting facilities range from the designed-to-impress boardroom to Frankfurt's largest ballroom with a capacity of up to 1,000. Executive-level rooms—many of them nonsmoking—offer plenty of extras, including access to the ultra-comfortable Executive Lounge where you can help yourself to complimentary drinks and snacks while taking in the stunning views. Keeping up with your exercise routine is easy in the large, state-of-the-art fitness club with Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Afterwards you'll sleep like a baby on pillowtop mattresses festooned with a forest of pillows.

Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof
Am Kaiserplatz
49-69-21502
www.frankfurter-hof.steigenberger.de

 
A guest room at Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof in Germany

In business since 1876, the Frankfurter Hof is among the city's most prominent defenders of the grand tradition, but—surprisinglyit's anything but stuffy. In fact, technology-wise this palatial property has always been on the cutting edge, from installing the city's first public phone in 1891 to being one of Germany's first hotels to offer Wi-Fi in 2002. History and character ooze from every paneled wall, sparkling chandelier and marble staircase. No wonder it's always been an A-list playground with a guest roster ranging from Queen Victoria and the Rolling Stones. From small meetings to full-scale conventions, you'll find a conference room that suits your needs, along with all the equipment you could ask for, including a simultaneous translation system. Guestrooms lack no modern comforts either and even the smallest ones provide plenty of elbow room. For a special culinary treat, book a table at the Gourmet-Restaurant Français, or go casual at Oscar's, whose decor pays tribute to Hollywood legends.

Rocco Forte Villa Kennedy
Kennedyallee 70
49-69-717-120
www.roccofortehotels.com

 
A guest room at the Rocco Forte Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt, Germany

Exuding an atmosphere of effortless sophistication, this contender is a great place for feeding your luxury cravings. You'll feel like royalty when pulling up to the 1904 villa, complete with towers, turrets and other fairytale flourishes. Most of the 163 spacious guestrooms and suites occupy a three-wing structure whose architecture perfectly matches the historic mansion. The central courtyard is especially lovely in summer for enjoying a drink, snack or Mediterranean meal. Off to the side are seven conference rooms, all with natural light and the latest technology. The grand ballroom is decorated with hand-painted Italian silk wall coverings and has its own foyer. For the rooms Brit designer Martin Brudnizki has used wood, mirrors and warm, natural colors to create a soothing ambience that's the perfect antidote to a busy day at work. The main kicking-back zone, though, is the three-level spa with its breathtaking granite pool.

Innside Premium Suites Frankfurt Eurotheum
Neue Mainzer Strasse 66
49-69-210-880
www.innside.de

 
Interior view of the Innside Premium Suites Frankfurt in Germany
 

If you're in town for extended business, one of the stylish designer suites at this super central property should fit the bill. Its 74 units occupy five upper floors of a high-rise office building in the banking district and around the corner from Goethestrasse, Frankfurt's equivalent of Rodeo Drive. Choose from nine floor plans and five styles ranging from clubby to fanciful to feminine. Each suite consists of separate living- and bedrooms (with walk-in closet) as well as a kitchenette with hot plate, microwave and refrigerator. Baths are immaculate and feature powerful showers. Windows reaching down to the floor ensure the full visual impact of the 180-degree city views. Naturally, you'll have all the latest communication devices to play with. Meeting facilities are choice but best suited for small gatherings. Unwinding options include a popular bar and a fitness center with sauna.


Where to Dine

Apfelwein Wagner
Schweizer Strasse 71
49-69-612-565
www.apfelwein-wagner.com

 

The dining room of Apfelwein Wagner in Frankfurt, Germany

An evening at this local institution specializing in Apfelwein, a tart and surprisingly potent apple cider, is the quintessential Frankfurt experience. Sitting at long wooden tables, you'll be rubbing shoulders with people from the neighborhood as much as tourists from Japan, the U.S. and other far-flung corners of the world. The ambience is classic old-world Germany—boisterous, casual, cheerful—and so is the wooden décor and hearty food. We can recommend anything served with Grüne Sauce (green sauce), a tangy mix of yogurt and herbs that's usually paired with eggs or meat. Adventurous eaters might want to do battle with the enormous Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), a famous German dish that's done especially well here.


Biancalani
Walther-von-Cronberg-Platz 7-9
49-69-6897-7615
www.biancalani.de

 

Stylish yet convivial, this charismatic trattoria is ideal for chilling out, alone or with colleagues. Its buzzy scene draws an attractive, conversation-happy crowd of couples and cops, families and friends. Flavors here are woven together like fine tapestries into dishes built around fish or expert cuts of lamb, veal or other meats, all succulently prepared and paired with creative side dishes. The wine list has interesting contenders from throughout the Boot and other countries. In summer you can eat al fresco under the arcades with views of the fountain-studded square.


Holbein's
Holbeinstrasse 1
49-69-6605-6666
www.holbeins.de

 

The exterior view of Holbein's in Frankfurt, Germany

Holbein's is a successful marriage of modern and old. Tucked behind an imposing glass front, it is integrated into the Städel, one of Germany's most comprehensive art museums. A cafe-bistro in the daytime, the place turns into an upscale, elegant restaurant with live music at night. Settle down for fine, light German cuisine with occasional excursions to the Mediterranean and even the United States (the Caesar's salad is a crowd pleaser). A good way to start things off is with a Holbein Freshness Drink, a unique blend of Kombucha and prosecco on ice. The decadent chocolate desserts, made with Valrhona, are worth the hip-expanding indulgence.


Main Tower Restaurant & Bar
Neue Mainzer Strasse 52-58
49-69-3650-4777
www.maintower-restaurant.de

 

The dining room of Main Tower Restaurant & Bar in Frankfurt, Germany

If you need to impress those new clients, reserve a table at this exclusive restaurant, but book early or be prepared to sit in the bar (same menu). Even getting here is a trip: a high-speed elevator whisks you 600 feet above street level in just under a minute. The panoramic views of the city skyline are, predictably, breathtaking. Fortunately, the kitchen's ambition is just as lofty. A small army of chefs can be observed cutting, chopping and whisking in the open show kitchen, which results in such innovative compositions as Saibling sautéed in vanilla oil and saffron butter. There's a choice of three six-course menus, although you're free to mix and match if you like. Beware: the final price tag isn't easy on the wallet, and the fact that they add on €5 for the elevator ride is downright tacky.


Micro
Carl-Benz-Strasse 21
Frankfurt-Fechenheim
49-69-900-200
www.cocoonclub.net

 

The dining room of Micro in the Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, Germany

Hip and sophisticated, Micro is a prime example of the new generation of urban eateries that flawlessly fuse substance and style. Austria-born chef Mario Lohninger is a wizard in the kitchen, where he puts a refined spin on classic dishes from around the world. Even simple pizza, schnitzel or ahi tuna gets the star treatment here thanks to deft preparation and super-fresh quality ingredients. Music, light effects and shimmering curtains of silver threads give the dining room a relaxed, almost sensuous feel, making this a perfect place for unwinding after a day of desk duty. On weekends, the place morphs into a nightclub after dinner.


Silk im Cocoon Club
Carl-Benz-Strasse 21
Frankfurt-Fechenheim
49-69-900-200
www.cocoonclub.net

 

If you're into high-concept restaurants that also happen to serve excellent food, you'll definitely want to make reservations at Silk. Just don't ask for a table. You see, this is a so-called “bed restaurant” where you'll feast on a ten-course gourmet meal while reclining on soft, cream-colored leather lounges. That is, after you've taken off your shoes. Bathed in milky light with a pink tinge, you relax to the sounds of gentle electronica. From time to time, servers dressed in flowing white gowns waft by to feed you swoon-worthy morsels that are like culinary poetry. The menu changes weekly but may include rosemary-infused foie gras mousse with kumquats, gnocchi with porcini-and-pumpkin-seed pesto, or a rhubarb-asparagus gratin. Make reservations as early as possible, especially for Friday and Saturday nights. It's in the same complex as the Cocoon Club, Frankfurt's most sizzling nightclub.


Tiger-Restaurant
Heiligkreuzgasse 16-20
49-69-9200-2225
www.tigerpalast.de

 

The dining room of Tiger-Restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany

This pint-sized dining shrine below the Tigerpalast Variete Theater has enjoyed most-favored status with Frankfurt foodies for many years. The menu is as enticing as the classy dining room with its arches and complexion-friendly candlelight. Curvaceous booths wrought from black leather are perfect for small gatherings, while couples might prefer retreating to a private niche. Chef Martin Göschel creates Mediterranean flavor bombs from top-notch ingredients. If you prefer a more relaxed ambience (and lower prices), head next door to the vaulted Palast-Bistrot, where you'll sit among German Expressionist-style art gracing red-brick walls.



Off the Clock

22nd Lounge
Neue Mainzer Strasse 66-68
49-69-210-880

Cocktails with a view is the trump card of this chic lounge ensconced—as the name implies—on the 22nd floor of one of Frankfurt's ubiquitous high-rises. Decked out in dark wood, black leather and copper-toned walls, it's a haven of urban sophistication that draws everyone from hotties on a first date to the business brigade ready to unwind with a stiff martini. The bartenders mix and pour with authority. Soft jazz wafts through the air most nights. If you need to build up your stamina for drinking, put together a plate of sushi from the respectable menu.

Cocoon Club
Carl-Benz-Strasse 21, Frankfurt-Fechenheim
49-69-900-200
www.cocoonclub.net

Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, Germany

The brainchild of German star-DJ Sven Väth, one of the godfathers of techno, Cocoon Club takes clubbing to stratospheric levels. It's an ambitious blend of cutting-edge sound, design and food and quite possibly one of the most extravagant clubs you've ever seen. From a "pulpit" floating above the main dance floor, Väth and an international cast of guest DJs calibrate the music (mostly techno and tech-house) and visual effects to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Computer-animated images are projected onto a textured "membrane" wall that wraps around the dance floor. The wall is honeycombed with niches (cocoons) where people relax on softly upholstered divans. Three of these can be reserved and have their own minibars, dimmable lights and adjustable sound. Two gourmet eateries, Micro and Silk (the latter a "bed restaurant" where you eat in repose), are also part of this unique complex.

Palmengarten & Grüneburg Park
Siesmayerstrasse 61
49-69-2123-3939
www.palmengarten-frankfurt.de

Palmengarten & Grüneburg Park in Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt is actually a very green city, but most of its parks and woods are relegated to the periphery. An exception is this redolent duo just north of downtown's concrete canyons. In the Palmengarten, a beautifully landscaped botanical garden, you can wander among roses and rhododendrons, stick your nose into greenhouses filled with palm trees and orchids or catch a concert, reading or exhibition. There's even a little lake with boat rentals and a tram for tired feet. Immediately north, the winding paths of the English-style Grüneburg Park are popular with joggers. Wide lawns invite sunning, picnicking and playing pick-up soccer. Architecture aficionados should swing by the nearby Poelzig Building, designed by Bauhaus practitioner Hans Poelzig in the late 1920s as the headquarters of a giant chemical concern. The U.S. Army moved in after World War II, but since 2001 the giant comb-shaped structure has been part of Frankfurt University.

Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie
Schaumainkai 63
49-69-605-0980
www.staedelmuseum.de

Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie in Frankfurt, Germany

(Note: The permanent collection is currently closed due to construction.)
Art lovers should make a beeline to this fabulous museum, which houses one of the biggest and most important collections of European masters in Germany. Wandering through its warren of galleries, you'll be able to trace 700 years worth of paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings presented in an attractive fashion. All the heavy hitters are here, including Dürer, Holbein, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Bacon and Serra, to name a small selection. Part of the collection occupies the imposing original Neo-renaissance museum from the late 19th century, while the rest is in a modern annex. A well-stocked bookstore invites browsing, while the café makes for a pleasant post-cultural coffee break. The Städel, as it is known locally, is just one museum along Frankfurt's famous Museumsufer (Museum Bank) on the southern bank of the river Main.

Tigerpalast Variete Theater
Heiligkreuzgasse 16-20
49-69-920-0220
www.tigerpalast.de

Tigerpalast Variete Theater in Frankfurt, Germany

There isn't a bad seat in the house at this intimate, midnight-blue theater, which has gone through earlier incarnations as ssa ballroom and a Salvation Army headquarters. Since 1988, the venerable space has drawn tens of thousands of guests with its excellent line-up of magicians, clowns, acrobats and artistes from around the world. You'll be most thoroughly entertained while squished behind tiny bistro tables, sipping Champagne and cocktails. After the show you could grab a bite at the convivial Palast-Bistrot in the vaulted brick cellar or a nightcap at the equally cozy Palast-Bar.



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(Updated: 09/15/10 SG)

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