Hotel Review: Excelsior Hotel Ernst, Cologne in Germany
Prior to my visit to Excelsior Hotel Ernst I had done my research by viewing their brochure, which boasted images of elegant refinery and fine dining experiences. I also found that the Excelsior was the only five-star hotel in Cologne, so, naturally, I had high expectations. But it is fair to say that the Excelsior truly exceeded them and then some.
On arrival, I noted the impeccable staff service: as soon as we entered the handsomely decorated gold and cream coloured reception, we were greeted by a lady who took us personally to our Grand Deluxe Room; she was extremely accommodating, friendly and polite, making us feel truly at home. She also provided us with helpful brochures of the Christmas markets and explained how we could reach them. This warm and welcoming service continued throughout our trip – there was never a member of staff without a smile on their face or a willingness to assist our every need.
Our Grand Deluxe Room was truly stunning, with a direct view of the renowned World Heritage Site, Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) which held the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom (Cathedral Christmas market). The room was decorated with a subtle blend of classic and contemporary styles, which united royal blue curtains with cream walls and gold coloured photo frames, giving the room a regal vibe which ran throughout the rest of the hotel. The six gold frames which adorned the room contained images of historical significance, including a sketch of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the setting for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and paintings of vintage pottery found by archaeologists in Cologne.
The bed in our room was quite possibly the most comfortable I have ever slept on, decked with soft cushions and a bedspread. For those that prefer a specific type of pillow or suffer with neck or back problems, then there is also a pillow menu to choose from to ensure ultimate comfort.
The lighting is expertly designed to brighten the whole room, with the main fixture running around the entire top coving, ensuring that no space is left dimmed or unlit. At the foot of the bed is a varnished mahogany desk, with a phone and lamp shade, while the left wall holds a black LG flat screen TV which can be manoeuvred to be seen from all angles. Along the right side of the room is a gold rimmed glass coffee table, a chaise lounge style settee and an armchair complete with purple bolsters and rectangular yellow-gold cushions. On the same side of the room, there is a fitted wardrobe containing a mirror and, to my delight, a complimentary mini bar which was fully stocked with a variety of beverages, including Cologne’s own brand of beer ‘Kölsch’, which we both enjoyed immensely.
To the left of the small hallway in the room is the bathroom with a black and white marble tiled floor, comprising of an array of Asprey toiletries lined along the sleek and stylish marble sink. The shower is large, white and spotless, containing several different shower heads. If you’re opting for an even more luxurious bath time experience, then the hotel also offers suites which have a jacuzzi bath and steam room with Roman inspired marble columns.
The rooms and suites range from 30-150 square meters in size, some of which contain a walk-in wardrobe. Overall, the hotel contains 137 rooms and suites, with 3 types of rooms and 6 categories of suite. I visited a mixture of these different types throughout various floors of the hotel, all of which were beautifully decorated with the same blend of classic and contemporary tones which ran throughout the hotel. Each room was surprisingly peaceful – no matter where we were in the building, there was no background noise from outside, despite being within the hub of Cologne’s bustling city centre.
Once we had settled in, my partner and I received a tour, during which the PR Manager informed us that the hotel has been family owned since 1863. In that time, each room has been restored to maintain the original features of this quaint listed building, blending classic features with contemporary décor, including pop art paintings which are present in some of the suites.
Art is an important part of Cologne’s culture, in fact, the artist Andy Warhol used one of the suites in 1985 to draw the cathedral; there is even a limited-edition beverage in the Piano Bar inspired by his stay. Not only has the hotel been frequented by artists but also a diverse range of celebrities from Madonna to Bill Clinton.
The Excelsior Hotel Ernst and the Cathedral are two of the only surviving pre- world war buildings to remain in Cologne, which made our experience here feel even more special.
Food and Fine Dining
There are two restaurants within the hotel: Taku which provides an Asian fusion dining experience and Hanse Stube, serving French themed cuisine. In Taku, we stepped into the Far East, with sand coloured walls, dark wood tables and cream chairs, which provided a more modern and contemporary feel compared to the rest of the hotel. A river in the floor from the entrance lead us into the restaurant, then a glass strip of floor took us to the table area. Taku’s head chef, Mirko Goul and his team have acquired a Michelin star for the restaurant, Cologne’s only Michelin star awarded to an eatery for Asian cuisine.
Hanse Stube on the other hand, had a totally different vibe, with polished mahogany walls and elegant decoration producing a sophisticated and classic feel. The French inspired menu serves between four to six courses from Fine de Claire oysters to French pheasant with foie gras jus, Traminer – grapes, champagne cabbage and potato mousseline. The restaurant welcomes both customers staying at the hotel and locals from the surrounding area.
During our tour of Hanse Stube we were offered the chance to try some of the hotels homemade praline chocolates. We tasted the Eggnog and Sour Cherry flavours – they were utterly divine and would make an excellent Christmas or birthday gift.
Though we did not get a chance to try the mouth-watering dinner menu, we did have breakfast in the Hanse Stube, which consisted of a cold buffet selection of cheeses, breads, croissants, meats, exotic fruits, freshly squeezed juices, fish, cereals etc. and a hot buffet which included the usual Full English items. Additionally, there were items which could be cooked to order, including omelette, crepes and even steaks.
At breakfast, we took the opportunity to try the hotel’s homemade honey, produced by 70,000 bees from its roof. The honey was delicious – and to me, tasted even better in the knowledge that it was homemade.
After our tour, we got the the chance to enjoy one of the hotel’s culinary highlights of Afternoon Tea inspired by the French star pastry chef, Pierre Hermé. We tasted some of his exclusive selections, including his uniquely flavoured macaroons, my personal favourite being mandarin and black pepper. Alongside the macaroons was an assortment of flavoured chocolates and jellied sweets. On the shelf below were small sandwiches with smoked salmon, cucumber, cooked ham, egg and chive and on the bottom shelf was a range of sponge cakes, brownies and fresh fruit pastries. All this was rounded off with a typically English finish including six warm scones with clotted cream, jam and marmalade.
During our Afternoon Tea experience, there was of course a variety of tea to choose from. The Jasmine Pearls was recommended to me by the PR Manager and I certainly do not regret my decision to try its fresh flowery notes. During Afternoon Tea, we also kindly received the most delicious complimentary Crème Brûlée from the chef, which features on the Hanse Stube dessert menu.
While on the theme of tasty treats it is also worth mentioning that the hotel uses a secret family recipe to make their own ‘Stollen’ (Christmas cake). Each year, a batch of the cake is made and sent to the owner in Switzerland to approve before it can be sold to the public. The cake is then sold on the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom at stall 92. My partner and I found the stall during our trip to try the cake, and I can vouch for the fact that it is well worth the taste.
Full of historical significance, in a great location, with grand and tasteful décor, delicious cuisine and excellent staff service; the Excelsior Hotel Ernst really does have it all.
Address: Trankgasse 1-5, 50667 Köln, Germany
Phone: +49 221 2701
All images used in this article were taken by Sophie Demetriades.