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Where to stay in Frankfurt

Discover the German city's modern and historic districts with our guide to hotels, attractions, restaurants and bars
Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt
Photograph: Polybert49/Flickr Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt
By Mairi Beautyman |
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Sure, Frankfurt has its fair share of high-rise buildings in the city center of Germany’s financial capital, but the rest of the cityscape is diverse. There's the conservative locale catering to the banking community and, elsewhere, the bohemian enclave attracting an entirely different sort. Does a villa with a moat float your boat? Or how about the district known for its dedication to the local tipple, applewein (apple wine)? Or maybe a central location is what you're after? Here are the five best districts to stay in Frankfurt, with insider tips for where to eat, drink, sleep and play.

RECOMMENDED: Your essential Frankfurt travel guide

Where to stay in Frankfurt

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: apple wine – 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. Here is where visitors and locals go to discover Frankfurt’s lively bar scene – the narrow pedestrian streets are full of pubs. On the slightly quieter Schweizer Strasse, there's a heady mix of alternative boutiques and a view of the Frankfurt skyline.

EAT

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


DRINK

At the sleek grey monochrome Bonechina it's up to you to make your own drink – the host that takes your order can show you how. Big on style and small on space, only 12 people can fit in this speakeasy-style bar located in a Baroque building.

DO

Stroll down the tree-lined Museumsufer (museum embankment) along the south side of the River Main to find nine museums. Among them is the Städel Museum, which houses an awe-inspiring 700 years of European art.

STAY

Libertine Lindenberg fits right into a neighborhood known for its creativity. Offering a lifestyle experience in the stylish home of a well-traveled fictional character, the five-storey boutique hotel has film and music nights, houses a recording studio and holds cooking classes.

If you do just one thing…

Every other Saturday, loads of different 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.
 
Bornheim
Photograph: Courtesy Pedelecs/Wikimedia Commons

Bornheim

Bergstrasse with its 2.9 kilometers of scenic cobblestone streets and tiny alleyways, is where Frankfurters go to shop. In summer, many of the restaurants and cafes 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. Green space Bethmannpark, with a Chinese garden designed using feng shui principles, is an unexpected delight. It has pagodas, footbridges, and a dragon keeping a watchful eye over all.

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 cheese and shaved radishes or wild cod with savoy cabbage and bacon.

DRINK

Head to the Mosaik bar for your jazz fix. The venue programmes a highly curated selection of emerging and established artists that can be enjoyed along with the bar's large selection of whiskeys.

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. The otters at play are a highlight – they seem to get cheekier with the attention.

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 do just one thing…

Feed your face at the farmer’s market in Bornheim’s main square. Every Wednesday and Saturday, flowers, sausages and cured meats and baked goods, including delicious traditional German wholegrain rye bread, are on sale here. 
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Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt
Photograph: Courtesy Flickr

Bahnhofsviertel

The area once known for its seedy red light activities has been cleaned up in recent years. Now the prostitution and drug trafficking happens around Taunusstrasse, while the rest of the district has some of the hottest nightlife and best international restaurants in the city. The best spots are on or near Kaiserstrasse, a boulevard lined by some of the city’s last remaining 18th-century buildings, and the whole area benefits from being located next to the main train station. 

EAT

Fresh fish and juicy steaks are cooked to perfection on iron griddles directly at the table at Japanese teppanyaki restaurant Kabuki Frankfurt. Go at lunchtime when prices are a bit cheaper.

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 spicy 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. You know you're there when you see people milling about outside.

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 bar's Facebook group to find out which nights these parties are on, or you’ll find yourself at a sub-par strip club.

STAY

The pair of jeans hanging on a wall hook at the 25hours Hotel Frankfurt by Levi's is a clever homage to the famous denim brand. Part of the popular 25hours chain, and just steps away from the main train station, the hotel offers rooms with Bluetooth speakers and great amenities for getting around, such as bikes and free use of a Mini car.

If you do just one thing…

A Pac-Man oven spits out authentic Naples-style pizza at Pizzeria Montana, one of the best Italian joints in the city. Sitting at communal tables, this is where you devour the perfect carbohydrate-laden snack before a night out.

Nordend
Photograph: Simsalabimbam/Wikimedia Commons

Nordend

Locals want to live in Nordend for its top-notch restaurants at budget-friendly prices, dozens of apple-wine pubs, a moated villa and beautiful parks. Holzhausenschlösschen, once a country villa and summer retreat, is now one of Nordend’s most impressive historic landmarks. Glauburgstrasse is the place to explore dozens of cafes 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 destination for volleyball, summer picnics, climbing (there’s a ten-meter-high climbing wall), and a Sunday stroll.

EAT

Apfelweinwirtschaft Frank is where the locals go to drink apple wine while demolishing huge portions of typical German fare 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 for access 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 on indie labels from the city’s best young designers. Black and white dominate the curated selection from the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Plein Sud, Gold Hawk and Drykorn.


STAY

Although it's a chain hotel, NH Collection Frankfurt City delivers five-star amenities at a reasonable price, 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 omelet.

If you do just one thing…

Wine bar Weinstube Nordend draws a mostly local crowd that comes for its impressive list of European wines, starting at just 2.40€ per glass. The friendly staff will offer you a taste of whatever you like, and more than 40 bottles are open behind the bar. The outside tables are most prized

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Westend

Westend

The quiet and upscale Westend district is home to many of the city’s bankers and others able to 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 northwestern border of the inner city. Constructed between 1890 and 1918 during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II, the area was once the place where gentry built their villas. Many of these remain on the narrow tree-lined streets. Westend is also home to the Messeturm or Trade Fair tower which, at 63 storeys high, is the second tallest building in Europe.

EAT

Oceans Restaurant Bar Lounge is a popular place for a plate of Mediterranean fare in a romantic setting. The delicious sardines are combined 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 – the rose shows are internationally famous – at the Palmengarten botanical garden, which has 9,000 square meters of greenhouse space spread out over 200,000 square meters of gardens. Palmengarten was built after the purchase of the Duke of Nassau's extensive tropical plant collection – there's a whole greenhouse dedicated to those plants.

STAY

Hotel Beethoven is a historic villa on a calm residential street 20 minutes by foot to the Frankfurt Exhibition Center. Head to the roof terrace for awesome views of the Frankfurt skyline.

If you do just one thing…

Have lunch at the Goethe University Frankfurt. The campus cafeteria is housed in the IG Farben Haus building. A stunning 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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