This was a quick one day trip from Amsterdam, NL that my wife treated herself to a few weeks ago.
The Excelsior Hotel Ernst was a perfect place for me to stay during a quick trip to Cologne to enjoy its legendary Christmas Markets. With the train station and Dom (Cathedral) just steps away, it location is a short walk to all that the city’s central area has to offer.
I was booked in a Superior (single) Room, but was upgraded upon arrival to a Deluxe Room. As my room was not ready when I arrived, the staff took my phone number so they could call when it was ready and gave me detailed instructions as to the best way to head out on my quest to see five local Christmas markets.
The hotel has several classic elements, including a beautiful façade, foyer (look at that ceiling!), and spiral staircase, which I really appreciated.
The room itself was spacious. The entry included luggage shelf and closet space. To the left is the bedroom and the right has the bathroom.
The bathroom was nicely done and had an interesting element with glass door shower that had a bathtub as well.
Bed was very comfortable. The rest of the room could have been a bit more comfortable. The TV was hard to see from the bed given it was so far away and the chairs in the room were not the best for relaxing. Minibar drinks were included for me which was very nice. And look at that view!
The woman from the front desk who had escorted me to my room mentioned the fitness and sauna area were great for relaxation so I took a look. Through the door, the fitness center is on the left and a relaxation room is on the right. Further ahead there are several different types of saunas and showers. Looks like it would have been an easy hour of calm if I’d had the time.
I had both dinner and breakfast in the main restaurant of the hotel. The staff were very attentive and friendly – and the food was great.
I decided to head to the markets furthest from the hotel first. These markets, at Neumarkt and Stadtgarten can be accessed by heading down Cologne’s pedestrian shopping streets. (This in itself was a treat that had me stopping a few times!) Both of these markets are smaller than the others, but also less crowded.
After enjoying some sweets, champignons, and fried cauliflower, I retraced my steps heading back toward the Cathedral. As I got closer I continued straight to the Rhine and then took a right to head towards the Chocolate Museum, as I knew the Harbor Market was right in front of it. This market had a great feel to it. This may have been because it was by the water and had a nautical theme – or maybe because of the Glühwein (mulled wine) I enjoyed there!
From there I retraced my steps again and came to the Old Town Market. I had passed its ice-skating and curling (can you believe it!) on my way to the Rhine earlier, so easily now saw that this area was the last part of a large, lovely market. I enjoyed watching the curling and finding a few unique gifts. One of the unique sections of this market was a jewelry row that had a mix of higher and lower end items.
The last market I visited was the Cathedral Market right in front of my hotel (and the Cathedral). By the time I passed by on my first day I just didn’t have the energy to go in, so made it my first stop the following day. I must say that I was disappointed when I walked through it at noon the next day. In spite of the early time (it had only opened at 11), it was already very crowded and I don’t think I saw one stall that was unique from those of the other markets. As a result, I quickly left and went to the Old Town Market to finish my shopping, have a Kölsch (Cologne’s local beer), and potato pancakes!
The 27 hours I spent in Cologne were such a treat. The vibe of the markets, the city in general, and the hotel made it a perfect quick mid-December get-away!
Hotel Notes | The Excelsior Hotel Ernst
FHR (American Express – Fine Hotels & Resorts Program for Platinum and Centurion Cardholders)
€220+city tax (all-in €230,50)
– room upgrade (single room to deluxe room, two categories)
– breakfast (full breakfast)
– €85 dining credit, Hanse Stube
– 16:00 late check-out
– Mini-bar included with room (beer and soft drinks)
Originally was advised only room available for booking was €430++ Junior Suite. AMEX FH&R contacted the property and secured a single room rate.
For comparative purposes the Cologne Marriott Hotel was originally reserved for the same night, all-in €189 (best available rate). No amenities with room rate, except the Marriott Elite (Platinum Elite) benefits.
I stayed in this hotel in a similar room on an Amex FHR plan as well. This is a nice hotel if you like the overly formal euro-style. The Bar is very lit up, the drinks are ok, the service at the property is generally excellent and the breakfast is high quality (altho I would rank the Hyatt across the river higher in regards to breakfast). Koln is a nice small city.
Make sure to bring cash – taxis don’t take cards there.
Michael Trager says
Thanks for your comments. No taxis this trip, 100% walking (to/from Amsterdam via train). While not sure about Cologne, I do believe that quite a few taxis in Germany are connected to the UBER application. It’s really just the taxis using UBER for payment processing, since UBER of all varieties is not legal at this time in Germany. Did see this functionality in Berlin a month+ ago. Good for those who do not like to carry much cash.
Ed B says
I love Koln, it is a small enough city that it is easy to get around as a tourist.
I am envious looking at your photos, the last time that I went to the Christmas markets there it was cold and sleeting.
But the Gluhwein is always good.