Frankfurt is a place we’ve been hearing a lot about recently, previously overshadowed by Berlin (and even Dresden) in the cool stakes slowly but surely this is changing…
Although it’s mostly been known as the beating heat of Germany’s financial sector, Frankfurt – with its fresh collection of sophisticated bars and Michelin-star eateries springing up all over the city – is slowly emerging as a new trendy travel destination. After a short flight from London we arrived in Germany’s fifth-largest city and made our base in the business district. Home to the European Central Bank, it’s just as impressive I expected with long clean streets punctuated by the odd shiny black limousine and eye-catching skyscraper which gleamed in the bright sunshine.
Although Frankfurt isn’t all work and no play and perfectly juxtaposed with its shiny, imposing financial district is the attractive old town which is known for its colourful collection of picturesque half-timbered houses. Almost completely destroyed during World War II, it’s being carefully and lovingly restored to its former glory with work likely to be finally completed in 2016. Although walking around you’d never be able to guess it had such a troubled past – today the pretty Gothic Centre looks immaculate with a maze of cobblestone streets and squares flanked by medieval churches, palaces and striking traditional half-timbered townhouses.
In spite of its importance and flourishing population, Frankfurt has more of a feel of a large town than a city and it’s a surprisingly relaxing place. Its charms aren’t as immediately obvious as say Paris or Bruges but Frankfurt is slowly gaining traction in the cool stakes. With its collection of beer gardens, street markets, opera and interesting museums, the city has always had a traditional side but now trendy Michelin-star bistros and swish fashion boutiques are springing up all over the place. Word seems to be getting out and visitors to the city are on the increase – in fact, visits to Frankfurt have doubled in the last 15 years.
With perhaps taking more than just a little inspiration from Berlin there’s also quite a handful of unique attractions too which are helping to set Frankfurt apart from other city break destinations. Think Ibiza-style DJ bars atop city-centre car parks, party boats on the River Main, bohemian neighbourhoods (Westend and Bockenheim), a thrift shop which only sells second-hand designer clothes (Kleidoskop), a hotel which is home to an old-school bistro (Oscars at Steigenberger Hotel) and even a luxury hotel which make its own honey (Jumeirah Frankfurt). There’s definitely a lot more to Frankfurt than people realise!
Where to Eat
We were lucky enough to dine in Lebua’s Breeze bar and restaurant. Located in the basement of the Five Star Steigenberger Hotel the award-winning restaurant has been world-renowned for its Asian gourmet cuisine and spectacular views in the “Tower Club at lebua” Hotel Bangkok. This is Lebua’s first establishment in Europe and after spending an evening there it’s definitely unlike any other place we’ve ever visited! They combine excellent food (with a la carte tasting menus choreographed by award-winning Culinary Creative Director Sam Leong), service, design and ambiance to create a very unique dining experience. For reservations head to Lebua Breeze Frankfurt.