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Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt
Photograph: Polybert49/Flickr

Your essential guide to where to stay in Frankfurt

Booked flights but don’t know where to stay in Frankfurt? Choose from our pick of the coolest neighbourhoods in town

By Mairi Beautyman and Huw Oliver
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As Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt may have its fair share of high-rise monoliths, but the rest of the cityscape is diverse. From the conservative Westend, which caters to the banking set, to slowly gentrifying Bahnhofsviertel, once rife with prostitution, Frankfurt’s most happening neighbourhoods range from glam to seedy, prohibitively expensive to cheap-as-schnitzel. Does a villa with a moat float your boat? How about the district known for its dedication to local Apfelwein (apple wine)? Or maybe it’s a central location you’re after? To help you choose where to stay in Frankfurt, here’s our guide to five of the city’s major neighbourhoods, with insider tips on the best bars, restaurants and hotels in each.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Frankfurt

Where to stay in Frankfurt

Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen
Photograph: Nicolas Emmanuel-Emile/Flickr

Sachsenhausen

In heavily-bombed Frankfurt, some of the oldest buildings still standing are found in Sachsenhausen, the city’s most populated district, known for its bohemian vibe and dedication to the state beverage Apfelwein, a light and tart drink of fermented apples. On the Grosse- and Kleine-Rittergasse, Paradiesgasse and Klappergasse streets in Sachsenhausen’s old town area you’ll find historic half-timbered houses. This is where visitors and locals go to discover Frankfurt’s lively bar scene (its narrow pedestrian streets overflow with cosy pubs). On the slightly quieter Schweizer Strasse, there’s a heady mix of alternative boutiques and excellent views of the Frankfurt skyline.

EAT

Sit on a communal wooden bench and feast on apple wine and Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) at Atschel, which has perfected the crispy outside and tender inside of this German classic.

DRINK

At the sleek, monochrome Bonechinait’s up to you to make your own drink – the staff will show you how. Big on style and small on space, this speakeasy-style bar can squeeze only 12 in at any one time.

DO

Stroll down the tree-lined Museumsufer (museum embankment) on the south side of the Main river to find nine world-class museums, including the Städel, whose collection spans 700 years of European art.

STAY

Libertine Lindenberg fits right into a neighbourhood known for its creativity. Branded as the stylish home of a particularly well-travelled fictional character, this five-storey boutique hotel puts on film and music nights, houses a recording studio and even hosts cooking classes.

If you only do one thing…

Every other Saturday, a wide range of stalls pop up for flea market Schaumainkai. Everything from second-hand toys to locally made clothing, used bikes, crafts, antique furniture and art is on sale. 

Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt
Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt
Photograph: Courtesy Flickr

Bahnhofsviertel

The area once known for its seedy red light district has been cleaned up in recent years. Now much of the prostitution and drug trafficking takes place around Taunusstrasse, while the rest of the neighbourhood boasts the city’s best nightlife and some tellar international restaurants. The buzziest strip is probably the Kaiserstrasse, a boulevard lined by some of the city’s last remaining 18th-century buildings, and the whole area benefits from being located right next to the main train station. 

EAT

Fresh fish and juicy steaks are cooked to perfection on tabletop iron griddles at Japanese teppanyaki restaurant Kabuki Frankfurt. Go at lunchtime when prices are lower.

DRINK

The bartenders at Plank Cafe-Bar-Studio inject expertise and passion into cocktails such as the amusingly named London Buck... is Falling Down, a blend of gin, lemon and punchy ginger. Named after renowned sound engineer Conny Plank, the bar displays work from local artists Holger Wüst, Christin Berg and Martin Wenzel on its walls, and has a mix of custom and designer furnishings.

DO

The best bars and clubs in the Bahnhofsviertel are steeped in underground mystique, so you’ll need to do some investigating to get yourself into one of the private parties that take place on select evenings at Pik Dame. Cabaret, dance and magic acts perform against sultry red décor and there are merry-go-round horses at the bar. Join the Facebook group to find out which nights these parties are on.

STAY

Part of the popular 25hours chain, and just steps from the main train station, 25hours Hotel Frankfurt by Levi's offers Bluetooth speakers in every room, bikes and even free use of a Mini car.

If you only do one thing…

A Pac-Man oven spits out authentic Neapolitan-style pizza at Pizzeria Montana, one of the city’s best Italian joints. Perched at communal tables, this is where to destroy the perfect carbohydrate-laden snack before a night out.

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Bornheim in Frankfurt
Bornheim in Frankfurt
Photograph: Courtesy Pedelecs/Wikimedia Commons

Bornheim

With its 2.9 kilometres of scenic cobblestone streets and tiny alleyways, Bergstrasse is where Frankfurters go to shop. In summer many of the restaurants and cafés set up seating on the street – ideal for people-watching. One of the more distinctive buildings on Bergstrasse is the Altes Bornheimer Rathaus, a historic town hall. The intricately carved, half-timbered building, with its Baroque front door and shutters, was built in 1770 and was once home to the mayor of Bornheim, a wealthy farmer. Bethmannpark, whose Chinese garden was designed according to feng shui principles, is an unexpected delight. It has pagodas, footbridges and a dragon keeping a watchful eye over the city.

EAT

At Chairs, retro seating from the 1960s to the 1980s ranges from a cantilevered Verner Panton classic to a dining chair by Charles and Ray Eames. The food on the revolving menu is just as creative as the décor – think buckwheat tart with goat’s cheese and shaved radish or wild cod with savoy cabbage and bacon.

DRINK

Head to the Mosaik bar for your jazz fix. The venue puts on a well-curated programme of emerging and established acts, and has a brilliant selection of whiskeys to boot.

DO

Founded in 1858, the Frankfurt Zoological Garden is one of the world’s oldest zoos. Its 4,500 animals include tigers, penguins and snakes.

STAY

Family-run for over 150 years, Hotel und Restaurant Schmärrnche is one of Frankfurt’s few remaining historic half-timbered buildings. But the antique-filled 22-room guesthouse only has four rooms with double beds, so couples should book well in advance.

If you only do one thing…

Pig out at the farmers’ market in Bornheim’s main square. Every Wednesday and Saturday, flowers, sausages, cured meats and baked goods, including some very delish traditional German wholegrain rye, are on sale here. 

Westend
Westend

Westend

The quiet and upscale Westend district is home to many of the city’s bankers and others who can afford the city’s highest real estate prices. It’s located between the Alter Oper, the city’s old opera house, and the Palmengarten botanical garden on the north-western border of the city centre. The area’s narrow streets are lined with villas built for the gentry between 1890 and 1918 during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II. Westend is also home to the Messeturm or Trade Fair tower which, at 63 storeys, is the second tallest building in Europe.

EAT

Oceans Restaurant Bar Lounge is a popular place for a plate of Mediterranean seafood in a romantic setting. The moreish sardines are scattered with red onions and roasted until crispy.

DRINK

Jimmy’s Bar in the Grandhotel Hessischer Hof, which boasts dark wood paneling, leather armchairs and buckets of old-school charm, has live piano music every night from 10pm to 3am. People still smoke here, but don’t worry, the space is well ventilated. 

DO

Go and see one of the garden exhibitions at the Palmengarten botanical garden, which has 9,000 square metres of greenhouse space spread over 200,000 square metres of gardens. Palmengarten was built following the purchase of the Duke of Nassau’s extensive tropical plant collection – there’s a whole greenhouse dedicated to similar species.

STAY

Hotel Beethoven is a historic villa on a calm residential street 20 minutes’ walk from the Frankfurt Exhibition Centre. Head to the roof terrace for photo-worthy views of the Frankfurt skyline.

If you only do one thing…

Have lunch at the Goethe University Frankfurt. The campus cafeteria is housed in the IG Farben Haus building. A striking example of modernist architecture designed by Hans Poelzig, it is also known ‘the Pentagon of Europe’ and was once the largest office building on the continent.

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Nordend
Nordend
Photograph: Simsalabimbam/Wikimedia Commons

Nordend

Locals aspire to live in Nordend for its top-notch restaurants at budget-friendly prices, dozens of Apfelwein pubs, a moated villa and beautiful parks. Holzhausenschlösschen, once a country villa and summer retreat, is now one of Nordend’s most impressive landmarks. Glauburgstrasse is the place to explore dozens of cafés and restaurants. A vibrant green border between the Bornheim and Nordend districts, Günthersburgpark, which used to be a private estate owned by the Rothschild family, is now a go-to destination for volleyball, summer picnics, climbing (there’s a 10-metre-high climbing wall), and a Sunday stroll.

EAT

Apfelweinwirtschaft Frank is where locals go to drink apple wine while demolishing huge portions of classic German grub such as Frankfurter Schnitzel – breaded and fried pork with Grüne Sosse (a creamy herb sauce). On certain evenings, the restaurant screens German football matches.

DRINK

Speakeasy-style bars abound in Frankfurt, but Der Rote Bar was one of the first. Ring the doorbell to get in and make sure you dress sharp to slip past the doorman. The art deco interior is a moody red, of course, and cocktails encompass classics and creative fusions – try Death in the Afternoon, a blend of champagne, bitters, sugar and lemon.

DO

Independent boutique Kleidoskop offers sleekly cut garments for the female shopper prowling for statement pieces, including barely worn designer pieces and clothes from the city’s finest young designers. Black and white dominate the curated selection from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Plein Sud, Gold Hawk and Drykorn.

STAY

Though it’s a chain hotel, NH Collection Frankfurt City delivers five-star amenities at reasonable prices, meaning spacious rooms all come with Nespresso machines, the gym has a sauna and steam room, and the enormous breakfast buffet has a live cooking station that will whip you up an omelette.

If you only do one thing…

Wine bar Weinstube Nordend draws a mostly local crowd who lap up its impressive list of European wines, starting at just €2.40 per glass. The friendly staff will offer you a sip of whatever you like, with more than 40 bottles open behind the bar.

And if it’s top-notch food you’re after?

The 11 best Frankfurt restaurants

Restaurants

Germans often look down on Frankfurt as the country’s joyless financial capital – and for many visitors it’s no more than a thoroughfare. But in recent years this overlooked metropolis has blossomed into something of a foodie haven, with new and exciting openings cropping up all over town.

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