Cologne – or Köln, as the Germans say – is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Beautifully placed on the banks of the roaring River Rhine, Cologne is known for its impressive Gothic architecture, glorious Romanesque churches, and long cultural history.
You’ll be astounded to discover that Cologne’s history begins some 2,000 years ago when the Romans founded a small outpost that would evolve into one of Germany’s most populous cities. History and heritage are everywhere in Cologne, and a short stroll through the city’s Altstadt – its Old Town – will throw you back through the centuries.
Your first stop will be Cologne’s striking cathedral. You can’t miss it because the two tall spires make this the largest twin-spired church to be found anywhere in the world. The standout Gothic design took hundreds of years to complete, with work starting in the 13th century and not really finishing until the late 19th century. You’ll find at least 12 other glorious medieval churches around the cobblestone streets of the Altstadt, all built in the traditional Romanesque style that Cologne has become famous for.
But don’t worry, as impressive as they are, there’s much more to Cologne than churches and cathedrals. After exploring the Old Town, take a journey through European Art at the Ludwig Museum, explore the history of chocolate at the Chocolate Museum, take a cruise along the Rhine River, or learn about Germany’s darker 20th-century past at the NS Documentation Center, which was the former headquarters of the Nazi secret police.
Then there are the restaurants, the bars, the riverside cafes and terraces, and so much more awaiting you across the city. If you’re planning a trip to Germany, then keep reading to learn more about the best areas to stay in Cologne.
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 12 Best Hotels in Cologne, Germany
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Where to stay in Cologne
Cologne is a classy city to stay in, and you’ll love the fantastic range of accommodation options waiting to be booked. Cologne is big on boutique hotels, and the best hotels in the city are packed with character and brimming with luxurious amenities.
Cologne’s oldest hotels are found in the Altstadt, where you’ll be a quick walk from the city’s famous twin-spired cathedral. Stay in the Old Town and you’ll find hotels dating back to the mid-19th century, as well as historic buildings that have been renovated with the luxury traveler in mind.
For convenience, the urban streets around Central Station offer one-of-a-kind industrial-chic boutique hotels and plenty of excellent eating and drinking options. On the outskirts of the Old Town, Cologne’s best architects and interior designers have been busy repurposing concrete rotundas and former water towers into unique hotels that offer personality in intriguing venues and locations.
Whatever your travel style, you’ll find a Cologne hotel to match it! There are luxury spa hotels overlooking the River Rhine, artistic design hotels that double as galleries and creative spaces, and boutique hotels that are just as famed for their Michelin-starred restaurants as they are for their luxury hotel rooms. To inspire your next German getaway, here are the best places to stay in Cologne.
The 12 Best Boutique Hotels in Cologne
It’s impossible for you to be any closer to Cologne’s city center than at the fabulous Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom. This 5-star hotel is easily one of the best hotels in Cologne because you’ll be staying directly across the square from the city’s iconic cathedral.
Walk out of the hotel’s grand entranceway and you’ll be in the shadow of the centuries-old Gothic spires that stand tall above Cologne’s skyline. The Excelsior has been welcoming guests to the heart of Cologne since 1863, so you can rest assured that you’ll receive first-class service from the experienced concierge staff.
As historic as the location and the hotel itself are, you’ll be impressed by the contemporary interiors of the Excelsior. The 107 luxury rooms are designed to be cozy and comfortable yet subtle and minimalist.
For supreme luxury, the Excelsior also has 29 high-end suites available for you to book, the best of which feature views of the cathedral from the ornate windows. The furnishings in the rooms and suites are designed and arranged to promote a sense of hominess during your vacation. You’ll appreciate it after a long day of sightseeing!
The dining choices available at the Excelsior are excellent. Hanse Stube is a classic of Cologne’s culinary scene. It’s an award-winning fine dining restaurant where you can start the day with a breakfast of eggs and champagne and experience a signature menu of German-French fusion food for dinner.
The Piano Bar serves up cakes and coffee during the day before switching to cocktail mixing and wine tasting as evening approaches. The highlight is the Michelin-starred Restaurant taku, where Chef Mirko Gaul has designed an exciting four- or six-course menu inspired by East Asian cooking techniques and prepared with seasonal European ingredients.
2. The Circle
One of the coolest hotels in Cologne is without a doubt The Circle, a unique offering from 25hours, Germany’s hippest hotel chain. Found just a short walk from Cologne’s main, central square, you’ll be instantly impressed by the hotel’s location within a giant repurposed concrete rotunda that was built in the post-war years.
The design concept is unusual, to say the least, with The Circle being styled through a concept they call “Retro-Futurism.” You’ll be thrown back into the 1950s when you walk through the doors, with cosmonauts and large Lego figures welcoming you into The Circle.
Throughout the hotel, you’ll find that the rooms and all of the public areas are in keeping with the theme of “Future Utopias,” but bear in mind, these are retro-future utopias that were imagined 70 years ago!
Spacious open-plan rooms with high ceilings are designed with seriously quirky features. You’ll love how the freestanding bathtubs are casually placed at the foot of the bed while you literally walk into the walk-in rain showers from the living area.
If you’re in Cologne on business or if you’re living the digital nomad lifestyle, The Circle has an excellent co-working space for guests. There’s a retro Record Store where you can listen to vinyl, a futuristic sauna where you can soak up the heat on the 7th floor, and an impressive rooftop bar and restaurant where you can sip cocktails high above Cologne.
One of the most unique hotels in Cologne is the Wasserturm Hotel. You’ll spot this concrete behemoth long before you arrive at the entrance because this unique hotel is found inside a repurposed stone water tower on the edge of the city’s Old Town!
This round water tower was built in the 1860s, and at the time, it was the tallest water tower in Europe. The water tower is historic, but Hilton’s Curio Collection recently renovated the interior into a luxury boutique hotel in October 2021. So expect everything to be brand new and cutting edge.
You’ll love the fresh look inside the hotel’s 88 super-spacious luxury rooms, where history collides with the contemporary. You’ll have beautiful views from the large windows, but you’ll need to visit the top-floor rooftop bar and restaurant for 360-degree panoramas of Cologne.
Bar Botanik is already one of the coolest rooftop lounges in Cologne. It’s the perfect place to savor handpicked spirits and mixers carefully selected from Cologne’s finest craft distilleries.
Each and every cocktail is hand-mixed to perfection. This is a prime spot to mingle with friends as you look out over the rooftops of Cologne.
The facade of The QVEST Hideaway dates back to 1897, and much of this heritage-listed building has been preserved on the inside. Tall stone columns and neo-gothic features will have you in awe of this design hotel’s long history, but you’ll appreciate the updated modern comforts and amenities that are guaranteed to make your stay in Cologne as enjoyable as possible.
The interior design of the luxury rooms at The QVEST Hideaway is inspired by the retro styles of the 1960s. You’ll love the whimsical armchairs, smooth wood floors, and minimalist decor. Reputed interior designer Michael Kaune put his heart and soul into The QVEST Hideaway, and that spirit shines through each of the 34 individually designed hotel rooms.
The QVEST Hideaway is more than just a hotel – it’s also a reputable art gallery! As well as the living history feel you’ll enjoy under the grand stone arches in the lobby and dining hall, you’ll appreciate the high-quality art and photography that’s found all over the hotel. If you’re intrigued by Michael Kaune’s work, you’ll also find his dedicated contemporary art and photography gallery a few short steps away.
The Ruby Ella Hotel is one of the best boutique hotels in Cologne. Take one look at the unusual architecture of this unique hotel, and it’s easy to see why.
The Ruby Ella Hotel is located in what used to be one of Germany’s busiest recording studios. The retro look has been retained, and you’ll love how the hotel draws on its radio and television hosting past to create a unique 1990s-style talk show atmosphere!
You can listen to the hotel’s dedicated radio station – Radio Ruby – on a Marshall amplifier as you settle into your stylish room. The Ruby Ella Hotel has an ethos they like to call “Lean Luxury.” That means that the rooms are minimalist but equipped with all the important comforts – such as super-soft beds and seriously fluffy towels – that you expect of a modern hotel.
This is a lively hotel, and if you’re up for a bit of entertainment, the Ruby Ella Hotel has got you covered. The radio-television theme continues in the hotel bar, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During the day, it’s a place to meet other travelers or to plan your sightseeing tour of Cologne. When night falls, the cocktails are shaken and stirred, and local bands and up-and-coming artists take to the stage.
If you’re into your food, then there’s no better place to stay in Cologne than the Prevot Restaurant & Hotel. This boutique offering on the banks of the River Rhine is tailor-made for foodies. You’ll love the authentically German dishes served up daily at the renowned Prevot Restaurant.
You’ll be staying above the restaurant, where rooms are designed with a vivid black and white color scheme. The beautiful parquet flooring in the bedroom is matched by the funky tiling in the bathroom, while works of contemporary art brighten up the living space.
When the sun is shining, the restaurant spills out Mediterranean-style onto the cobblestone streets by the river. The interior of the restaurant is classy and refined, with a fabulous selection of international wines displayed across the shelves for you to choose from.
A breakfast of pastries, fresh eggs, fruit, cereals, and cold meats is served every morning, while lunch and dinner menus feature fresh ingredients, fresh fish, and fresh takes on classic German dishes such as schnitzel.
7. Savoy Hotel
The Savoy Hotel is one of the most unique hotels in Cologne. Every room, suite, and apartment at this beautiful boutique property has been stylishly designed and decorated in its own unique, standout way.
Rooms offer unrivaled luxury, but at the same time, they are intended to impress with their almost garish color schemes and decor. Whether it’s the multicolored modern artwork, romantic-red furnishings, or unusual layouts, color schemes, and decor, your room is guaranteed to have character!
The Savoy Hotel doesn’t do boring, and you’ll love how this ethos continues even in the spa and fitness areas, where you can work out or relax in highly quirky settings. If it all gets to be too much, then take a break at the Sky Lounge, where you’ll have views over Cologne as you sip cocktails below swaying canopies while surrounded by rooftop plants and greenery.
Breakfast is served at the Myth Restaurant, while Divas Bar & Restaurant cooks up gourmet currywurst and schnitzel alongside hand-crafted cocktails. You’ll appreciate the Savoy Hotel’s convenient location after a long journey or an action-packed day sightseeing day in Cologne. This classy hotel is just a short stroll from Cologne’s main station – which is yet another reason to check into this incredible boutique hotel.
German hotels don’t get much more unique than Art’otel Cologne, where you’ll be surrounded by modern works of art in one of the best places to stay in the city. This is a hotel for the art lovers out there because Korean artist SEO has turned Art’otel Cologne into her personal gallery!
Art’otel Cologne is found in one of the most contemporary buildings in the city (the architecture is a work of art in itself), and you’ll love how it’s right on the banks of the River Rhine. Around the hotel, you’ll find 300 plus works of art produced by SEO, all designed using colorful strips of Hanjo rice paper from Korea. Join a guided tour of the hotel to see more before settling into your artistically styled luxury room.
Rooms at the Art’otel Cologne also contain Hanji artwork, and the bright colors are wonderfully contrasted by the bright white walls, ceilings, and furnishings, all designed to broaden your awareness of the art. There’s a fitness room and sauna, while the art’eat restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with beautiful views over the Rhine.
Luxury, grandeur, and refinery all come as standard at the Hyatt Regency, which is arguably one of the best hotels in Cologne.
You’ll love how the best rooms offer views of Cologne’s cathedral and Altstadt from the eastern banks of the River Rhine. Plus, the modern rooms feature panoramic viewing windows, ultra-comfortable beds, and luxurious walk-in rain showers. There’s much more to enjoy than this, and you know that the Hyatt name speaks for itself.
The Hyatt Fitness Club features a fully-equipped gym and a lovely spa pool, but you’ll likely be too preoccupied eating to work out! You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the food because the Hyatt Regency has three fine-dining restaurants and a bar for you to try out during your stay in Cologne.
The Glashaus Restaurant is situated in a beautiful conservatory next to the Rhine. It boasts an eclectic Asian-inspired menu offering duck and kimchi dim sum alongside braised ox cheek with pak choi and polenta.
The Legends Bar & Terrace is a rock music-themed restaurant serving up beers and currywurst, Grissini Restaurant has a delectable Italian menu, and Sticky Fingers is the place for street food, snacks, and salads.
Suave, sleek, and stylish, you’ll quickly fall for the smooth designs of the Urban Loft, one of the best Cologne hotels for boutique fans. The Urban Loft offers industrial-chic and ultra-modern amenities, and you’ll quickly spot the standout murals that adorn the exterior of the hotel as you stroll out of the adjacent train station.
Urban Loft is no ordinary hotel. This is an artistic, creative hub, and you’ll love how the public areas, corridors, lobby, and rooms have all been transformed into an urban gallery for modern artwork.
There’s digital check-in for guests. After you check in, head to your cozy room, which features faux-brick decor, an oversized bed, and individual works of art or photography. Plus, the modern ensuite boasts a spacious walk-in rain shower.
The creative Urban Food restaurant draws inspiration from all over the world as the chefs turn plates of food into their own artistic canvases. You’ll find culinary creations such as the Bangkok Curry or Istanbul Noodles too good not to order again, so be prepared for plenty of eating when you stay at the Urban Loft!
For a highly unorthodox hotel experience, book a stay at Black Hotels, where everything is dark, gloomy, yet somehow utterly refreshing. This unusual take on the classic hotel design takes modern decor to the extreme, as almost everything at Black Hotels is colored black.
You’ll be welcomed by staff behind the black-gray, faux-stone reception desk before being guided through darkened corridors to your boutique room. The amenities are luxurious, but aside from the contrasting white bedding, everything in the room is black, gray, or shades of the two.
You’ll love the freestanding bathtubs in the black-marble bathrooms, while the high-ceilings and spacious living areas offer far more room than your average Cologne hotel. The dark decor continues in the Black Bar, where you can order up cocktails and fine wines as you relax in a plush seat that’s illuminated by industrial windows during the day and elegant lighting in the evenings.
One of Cologne’s most beautiful features is the River Rhine, the wide waterway that winds its way through the city center. Many of Cologne’s best hotels offer wonderful views of the Rhine from marvelous riverside locations, but the only hotel to offer a stay on the river itself is the MS Crucevita!
The MS Crucevita is a sleek, stylish yacht that’s found a new lease on life as a luxury hotel ship on the Rhine. Surprisingly spacious cabins offer portholes and balconies overlooking the river. As you step out onto the deck, you’ll be awed by the views of Cologne’s Altstadt over on dry land.
When the sun is out, the ship’s sun loungers are available on the top terrace. You can order drinks and cocktails from the bar as you take in the serene views from your unbeatable position on the river.
You’ll enjoy the hotel’s sauna room, and if you want, there’s a gym where you can work out below deck. True to its nautical character, the MS Crucevita has a glorious bar and galley that harkens back to the Golden Age of cruise travel. The lounge area features a fireplace and leather armchairs, and you can sit back with a whiskey in hand while you study nautical maps and charts of old from the ship’s library.
That completes our list of the 12 best Cologne hotels! Did we miss any cool boutique hotels in Cologne? Comment below so we can add them to the list!
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