Tired of your New Year’s Eve plans never living up to expectations? Forget all the usual disappointments this year and head to Cologne! Here you can celebrate the start of 2011 in true A- list fashion with a Red Carpet Evening at the glamorously grand Excelsior Hotel Ernst. Located in the heart of this stylish city, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst is offering the ultimate New Year party package – guaranteed to make you feel a million dollars and see in the New Year with a bang.
You can indulge and enjoy a selection of innovative gourmet cuisine, exclusive drinks and a wide selection of music to dance the night away. There will be enchanting piano music to set the mood, as well as live music from Cologne band Brings to get you up dancing!
Each area of the hotel will be completely accessible for you to relax and be absorbed into the magic of New Years Eve, and there is a range of culinary highlights on offer: including a kitchen party in the award winning Asian fusion restaurant Taku, where you can take a journey through Asian cuisine alongside a live DJ.
Also on offer is the chance to discover original French specialities with regional influences prepared in the famous Hanse Stube restaurant. Throughout the evening, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst will offer a range of champagne, cocktails, wines, and of course Kölsh beer. A delicious dessert buffet within the inner court yard of the hotel is also available if you have room!
Bring in the New Year in sumptuous surroundings and the upmost decadence at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst, and enjoy the varied ambience on offer. The individual culinary experiences will tickle your taste buds, and this unique Red Carpet evening will mean that you are carried into 2011 feeling like a star. Be dazzled by the fulminous fireworks which can be viewed in front of the hotel and celebrate the New Year with a bang, set against the spectacular back drop of the stunning Cologne Cathedral.
Red Carpet Evening at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst will begin at 7pm on 31.12.10 and you can book the New Year’s Eve package for €379 pp based on a double occupancy, and €399 pp for a single occupancy. The package includes an overnight stay in a comfortable room, the Red Carpet Night at the hotel on New Year’s Eve including access to all event locations as well as all food and beverages. Also included in the package is a New Year brunch and a late check out at 3pm. Further overnight stays are available at the hotel and rates start at €200. All reservations can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Markets are a true highlight of the advent period and are sure to get everyone into the festive spirit. Head to one of the many markets in Eastern Europe to enjoy some real festive fare including local wine, beers, sausages and artisan crafts. Here’s our top ten…
During Advent Vienna is a city of nostalgia and romance with many concerts, nativity displays and traditional Christmas markets taking place throughout the city. The most renowned markets include the Viennese Christmas Markets on Freyung, at Spittelberg, at Am Hof and in front of the church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche).
Prague, Czech Republic
Christmas is a special time of year in Prague and the Christmas markets (Vanocni trh) are a key ingredient in the Czech festive magic. The Prague Christmas markets bring visitors and locals together to share the holiday spirit in a true ‘winter wonderland’ setting. The main markets can be found at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square with smaller ones at Namesti Republiky and Havelske Trziste. Open 9am to 7pm daily.
The Festive Fair, held in the Town Centre (Breg and Cankarjevo nabrežje embankments, Prešernov trg square) is well known for its vibrancy and cheerful atmosphere. Festively decorated green stalls, designed specially for the fair, sell a fine choice of products suitable for giving as gifts including food and drink, clothes and fashion accessories. Open from 10am to 10 pm daily.
Each festive season Nuremberg’s Old Town is decorated in its Christmas regalia and the tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages and gingerbread create a truly unforgettable atmosphere. The Christkindlesmarkt is situated in the heart of the city which is steeped in more than 400 years of tradition providing an international showcase for all Franconian and German Christmas Markets. While younger visitors can enjoy the Kinderweihnacht (Children’s Christmas Market) where historic steam-powered merry-go-rounds and other activities are waiting for them. Open from 9.30am to 8pm Monday to Thursdays, 9.30am to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays, 10.30am to 8pm on Sunday.
Cologne holds an impressive seven Christmas Markets. The four largest Christmas markets are located at Cologne Cathedral, on the Alter Markt (Home of the Heinzel Christmas Market), on the Neumarkt and on the Rudolfplatz (Fairytale Christmas Market). Every year these four markets attract almost 2 million visitors. Open every day from 11am to 9pm.
With well over 50 Christmas Markets and advent bazaars every year, Berlin features prominently on Germany’s calendar of Yuletide events. A popular market is situated next to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church amidst the bustle of shoppers on the high street between the Kurfüstendamm and Tauenzien. The Berlin Christmas Market shown on the map on the left is WeihnachtsZauber situated on the Gendarmenmarkt. This is probably one of the most popular markets in Berlin and is well sited in terms of nearby hotel accommodation. Open 9am to 9pm daily.
One of the most popular Christmas fairs in Europe awaits the lovers of winter programmes this year again in the heart of Budapest, in Vörösmarty Square. There are more than 100 wooden pavilions, which sell unique high quality folklore and applied arts products. Christmas decorations, small presents, candles, gloves, woollen hats, wrought iron and woven products are also sold here, as well as other special articles that cannot be found anywhere else. You can experience the real wonders of winter while enjoying traditional products that have been evaluated by a jury, and satisfying your appetite at typical Hungarian buffets, which offer mulled wine, kürtoskalács (sweet Hungarian pastry), roast chestnuts and other market snacks. Open 10am to 8pm daily.
Sibiu Christmas Market is one of the most popular events of the year in the city. Being the first traditional Christmas Market opened in Romania, it was first held in 2007, in the Little Square located in the downtown area, with a total number of 38 wooden cabins. In 2008 and 2009, Sibiu Christmas Market took place in the Large Square, one of the best places to be visited in the historical center of the city. Open from 10am to 9pm daily.
Cologne in London, UK
Once again Londoners and visitors to the city can enjoy a taste of Cologne this Christmas at the London Southbank Christmas Market. While wandering about, look for and find unusual Christmas presents such as amber and silver jewellery, hand-crafted toys, fragile glass ornaments for your Christmas tree, hand tatted laces, tin toys, candles in all shapes and sizes, hand-made ceramics and creative metal design. Sip on a glass of glühwein or bottle of Kölsch” and nibble on some gingerbread hearts, roasted almonds and candies or even a delicious crepe. Open 11am to 8pm Mondays to Thursdays, and Sundays, 10am to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays.
Estonia’s medieval capital is inherently festive and though temperatures do dip quite drastically this time of year, the city’s celebratory atmosphere does well to dispel the cold. Tallinn’s Christmas Market may be one of the most recently established but it is now among the most well-loved in Europe. December’s darkness is dispelled with colourful lights, music and an abundance of activity. Head to Tallinn’s Town Hall Square, Raekoja Plats, and visit more than 50 merchant stalls featuring products by local artisans. These stalls surround a beautiful Christmas tree. Open daily from 10am to 6pm.
This November the Cologne Fine Art & Antiques 2010 will meld modernism with tradition. It will bring together a rich mix of rare and exceptional objects spanning two thousand years of cultural and artistic history. Ninety leading international galleries and dealers have been selected to show highlights of European and non-European art from a broad range of collecting fields spanning classical antiquity to the 21st century. The Vintage Design sector, launched in 2009, will be expanded to include Contemporary Design.
The Fair’s sleek new design and elegant ambience provide a handsome setting for galleries and dealers to show high-end collectibles in all disciplines. It is a treasure trove for cognoscenti and collectors looking to invest in genuine quality and solid value.
The 2010 edition of the Fair is set to build on the success of its new formula. The exhibitor list features top dealers returning after the successful 2009 Fair. They are joined by an exciting mix of high-profile newcomers whose exhibits broaden the spectrum of disciplines and enhance cross-cultural interaction. Five unmissable, art-packed days for every collector’s November diary.
The Cologne Fine Art & Antiques Fair will run from 17 to 21 November 2010. For more information visit www.cfaa-fair.com
2009 was an important year for Cologne as Farina, the home of Eau de Cologne, celebrated its 300th year anniversary. Founded by Giovanni Farina (1685-1766), the family business has occupied the same building since its inception. The building currently houses a shop and a small museum with an assortment of historic bottles and information on the process of making a perfume.
Perhaps most interesting is the sheer volume of non-legitimate replicas the museum houses, illustrating just how renowned the original brand has been throughout history. What is particularly striking is the smell of the original perfume which I had not sampled until my visit. It struck me that there are several designer scents that have been available in recent years which have attempted to recreate the original Eau de Cologne. Yet, none of them quite match it.
Wandering around Cologne is a truly delightful experience. The architecture really is something to behold with tall, narrow, colourful buildings sitting alongside those more traditional and gothic. On a rather cold, grey, wintery day there could be no better place to stumble across than Peters Brauhaus. Located just of Alter Markt, Peters Brauhaus has a particularly inviting and grand entrance but once inside diners are transported to a warm, cosy and dark den consisting of six rooms, the one containing an enormous stained-glass ceiling light being the most impressive.
Although the restaurant and beer house boasts many tables and many long benches, diners feel anything but hemmed in. The staff may not speak English and the other clients may well be locals but the atmosphere is friendly. One could quite happily spend many an hour drinking the local Kölsch here.
However, the menu is particularly exciting for those seeking an authentic gastronomic experience. There are two menus, the Foodkaat and the speciality Speisekarten, the former offering slightly cheaper options, the latter showcasing the brauhaus’ first-class dishes. However, be warned, the portions are generous in both cases!
The Haxenfleish in Biersauce is served with fried potatoes and mixed salad (€13,90). Consisting of pork knuckle with a dark sauce, containing mushrooms is just what is needed to combat the cold winds of Cologne. The meat is tender, falling from the bone and the sauce soaks into the crispy potatoes. For those who would not normally opt for a beer sauce, this dish proves to be more than a pleasant surprise.
Although salad may not seem too tempting on a cold day, it is actually the perfect accompaniment, adding a touch of crunch, bitter and sweet to the overall meal. It is recommended to end one’s meal with a glass of schnapps, cleansing the palette and giving diners a hint of sweetness before continuing on a conquest through Cologne’s streets.
There is no way to better way to get into the festive spirit than by paying a visit to one of Europe’s many Christmas Markets; and boasting seven markets, each with a different theme, Cologne is easily the premiere winter destination. The city’s imposing gothic cathedral neighbours the most delightful Excelsior Hotel Ernst, the most desirable place to lay one’s head after a long day of festive merriment.
Carl Ernst, the royal restorer of the central station, was also the builder and owner of the Hotel Ernst. In 1871 the hotel was sold to the Kracht family who quickly integrated into the city’s high society and whose descendants remain its owners. During the hotel’s rich history it has hosted guests including the German Emperor William I, who, from his hotel window, observed the completion of Cologne Cathedral. Subsequent to World Wars I and II the hotel was renovated in 1926 and 1946 respectively, and continues to be maintained to a sublime, yet traditional standard. The lobby and spiral staircase is impressive, while the floors, covered with luxurious carpet, also have occasional ornate tiled features which mirror the style and design of the decorative stained glass windows.
This year the hotel has arguably achieved a pinnacle point in its history and success, receiving four notable awards in just three months: ‘Leaders Club Guest Recognition Award of Excellence’ as part of the ‘Leading Hotels of the World’ annual recognition awards; in addition to a treble win at the Busche Gala Awards where the hotel was named Hotel of the Year for Germany, as well as awarded Foreign restaurant of the Year for their Asian cuisine restaurant Taku and Hotelier of the Year for the hotel Managing Director, Mr. Wilhelm Luxem.
The hotel boasts 108 individually furnished single and double rooms, in addition to 34 luxurious suites, each with its own particular atmosphere, something which is sadly lacking in large chain hotels. Rooms are spacious, with dark wood contrasting with sumptuous fabrics.
Many rooms boast a walk-in-wardrobe which a girl could only dream of. While bathrooms, featuring Hans-Grohe fittings and marble in abundance, not to mention the most extraordinary mirrors, are reminiscent of a mythical heaven.
Although many hotels neglect guests’ gastronomic desires, Excelsior Hotel Ernst could not be accused of this. The hotel’s traditional European Hanse Stube restaurant is a cosy yet refined dining space with a menu to match. The menu changes with the seasons and at present the specialty of the cold season is Alsatian goose served with glazed chestnuts, red cabbage, braised raisin apples and Thuringia dumplings. The attentive and knowledgeable staff expertly carve the goose at diners’ tables. Guests are served a plate packed full of festive flavour and then another! The main course is preceded by a traditional amuse bouche with unusual twists. It is a struggle to get past the main course but if one succeeds there is a trolley adorned with rich cheeses, a number of exciting experimental desserts, coffee and truffles of unimaginable flavours to be enjoyed. The latter must not be missed, particularly the truffle with lebkuchen which has a pleasing flavour and spicy aroma.
The hotel’s other award-winning restaurant, Taku, is a world apart. A total contrast to Hanse Stube the décor is light, airy and almost futuristic. Diners walk across a glass river, under which coy carp swim. The kitchen and chefs are on show for guests to observe the delicate techniques required for constructing sushi. However, the Asian inspired menu has been given traditional European twists and even features foie gras. Nevertheless, delectable Beijing Duck, a staple of Chinese culture first recorded in the 12th Century, can also be sampled in an exquisite six courses.
The hotel also boasts a winter garden where food and drinks can be enjoyed, a piano bar and a wine bar; for those who seek a little activity, a fully-equipped health and sauna area located on the sixth floor. If one can somehow work up the inclination to leave this lavish haven of luxury (perhaps to work off one of the restaurants’ feasts) then there are many sights to be seen: the cathedral, the Lindt chocolate museum and factory, and from the end of November to the beginning of January a number of Christmas Markets which encapsulate everything good about winter.
Cologne Christmas Markets:
1. The Christmas Market at Cologne Cathedral is a trademark for the town of Cologne. Chosen by the specialist press as the most beautiful Christmas Market in Europe, millions of visitors descend each year specifically to visit this market. This market includes a Käthe Wohlfahrt which specialises in traditional festive decorations.
2. Angel’s Market at Nemarkt in the heart of the city is well worth a visit. It is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany and immediately carries visitors into a kingdom of angels.
3. In the middle of the historic and idyllic old town stands the rustic Cologne Old Town “Home of Gnomes”. According to famous Cologne legend, this was also the home of the gnomes who were said to be particularly good craftspeople. Therefore, at this Christmas market one can find a particularly large number of handcraft stalls, where goods are still produced in the traditional way.
4. Just ten minutes walk from Neumarkt, the Fairytale Christmas Market is situated at Rudolfplatz. The inspiration of the sixty huts at the Hahnentorburg is the brother’s Grimm tales, making this market ideal for younger visitors.
5. From Europe’s largest floating Christmas market, Cologne Christmas Market Afloat, with over forty stalls, visitors get a truly dream-like view of the Cologne Old Town and the Cathedral.
6. The Medieval Christmas Market at the Chocolate Museum is a lovingly designed, cosy, medieval spectacle located on the Rhine. A totally unique experience, there is an exhibition of traditional handicrafts and a non-stop programme of concerts, theatres, jugglery and live nativity scene.
7. Finally, the Christmas Market at Stadtgarten has an idyllic village atmosphere with 60 exhibitors featuring modern creations, traditional handicraft and nostalgic paraphernalia as well as offering visitors culinary specialties.
Prepare yourself for Christmas with a quick trip to Cologne’s Christmas Markets and pre-empt holiday stresses and strains with a luxurious stay at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst!
Excelsior Hotel Ernst
Trankgasse 1-5 / Domplatz
The Excelsior Hotel Ernst is located in the city centre of Cologne, directly opposite the spectacular cathedral and only two minutes walk from the railway station, local attractions and the Rhine River. The 142 bedroom hotel is a 5* hotel and a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’. The hotel boasts two excellent restaurants Hanse Stube and Taku, and tourists interested in sampling some traditional beer and other beverages will find the location ideal for the famous breweries and bars of Cologne.
In 1863, Carl Ernst, “Royal Restorer of the central station”, built the Hotel Ernst. In 1871, after as few as eight years, he sold the Hotel Ernst to Friedrich Kracht. Kracht moved from Belgium to Cologne to manage the hotel but he died four years later, at this point his wife and his son, Carl, took over the management of the house.
It did not take long for the Krachts to successfully integrate into the society of Cologne. In 1884, the people of Cologne crowned Carl Kracht Prince Carnival. During this time, the Grand Hotel was already the first choice of prominent guests including the German Emperor William I who observed the completion of Cologne Cathedral from his room in the Hotel Ernst.
In 1889, Carl Kracht went to Zurich where he married Emma Pauline Baur. The Swiss hotelier family Baur possessed both the well-known Baur au Lac and Savoy Baur en Ville in Zurich. Then, in 1890, one year after his wedding, his mother handed the Hotel Ernst over to him and his sister Hermine Brinkhaus. The siblings founded a limited company but one year later Hermine Brinkhaus withdrew from her position. Being the only proprietor of Cologne’s Grand Hotel, Carl Kracht and his family lived in Zurich where he managed the Baur au Lac. In 1905, he appointed Friedrich Reime director of the Hotel Ernst who continued to manage the hotel.
Between 1908 and 1910 the hotel was rapidly pulled down and reopened as five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior Hotel Ernst. In an era in which running water was the exception, 100 out of 250 rooms were equipped with a bathroom. In 1918, after the end of the war, the hotel became a headquarter for the British Forces. During this time the hotel was closed. After the troops had left in 1926, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst was renovated for a second time.
During World War II, the hotel was closed. After the war, the Krachts tried to reconstruct the building as soon as possible and never stopped to try to preserve the hotel and its luxurious nature. In 1986 the hotel was extended by the circular building, Marzellenstrasse/Domprobst Ketzer Strasse. The famous interior designer Count Pilati designed the new rooms, bathrooms and public areas.
In 2000, an exclusive health and spa area for guests was established and the following year, Taku, an Asian restaurant was opened, as was the modern Business Centre. In 2007, the last renovation took place with 23 new deluxe double rooms, 5 junior suites and 7 executive suites created in the Hanse wing, costing an incredible 7 million Euros.
The hotel currently offers kitchen parties and interactive food demonstrations at Taku. For those interested in the antiquities in the treasure vaults at the cathedral, the hotel offers exclusive private tours, an opportunity which those staying at other hotels are unable to partake in. For those visiting Cologne and wishing to indulge a little, the hotel also organises trips by speedboat to the local vineyards on the Rhine, and offsite dinners at local breweries and beer kellers.
142 rooms & suites partially with view of the Cathedral
13 conference rooms with day light Health and sauna area, Business Center, exclusive antique shop Rooms: satellite TV, pay TV, price per room includes minibar, safe, wireless-LAN, broadband access, fax connector, air conditioning, bath robes, hair dryer, shaving mirror Restaurant Hanse Stube: Innovative French cuisine Restaurant taku: The house of Asian delights Piano Bar: Premium bar offering a large variety of cigars and live piano music Service: 24 hour room service, 24 hour reception and concierge, Valet service, luggage service, shoe-cleaning service, conference butler, limousine service, wedding planning
Excelsior Hotel Ernst
Trankgasse 1-5 / Domplatz