I didn’t used to be such a hotel snob. In my almost 47 years on the planet, I have stayed my share of nights in “no tell motels”. I’ve done my fill of hostels, where guests are locked out during the day, but pay dirt cheap rates. Bill and I have also stayed in some very inexpensive self catering places in Europe, which we tend to do a lot when we travel with our dogs.
Now that I’m getting old, when I’m not traveling with my dogs, I like to splurge as much as possible. I like staying in cushy hotels with character. I found that in spades at the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in downtown Cologne. This hotel is privately owned, and has a long history in the city, having been founded by Carl Ernst in 1863. Though the hotel has changed hands since it was founded, it remains unaffiliated with a chain and maintains its unique charm. It also has a Michelin starred restaurant called Taku, which served Japanese cuisine. Unfortunately, Taku isn’t open on Mondays and Tuesday, we had our concert. We were not able to try Taku on this trip, but if we ever get back to Cologne, I’m sure we’ll make the attempt. I’ll probably book the Excelsior Hotel Ernst again if it’s available and we can still afford it. We had a wonderful stay.
I booked a Grand Deluxe room, which is about the mid-range category at this hotel. It was located in what appeared to be the newer part of the hotel, which was built in 2007. I tend to upgrade when the price increases are modest. I was very pleased with our accommodations. Below are some pictures.
Excelsior Hotel Ernst.
Dramatic spiral staircase near our room.
Little fountain at the bottom of the spiral staircase.
Nice sized sitting area. Naturally, WiFi is free of charge. I remember as recently as ten years ago, hotels were making people buy access. I’m glad to report that this hotel doesn’t do that.
King sized bed with split duvets. I had to explain the concept of the duvets to an American friend of mine, who has not been to Europe. I kind of like the split duvets. Each occupant of the bed gets his or her own cover.
Marble bathroom with a tub and a rainfall shower. I didn’t use the shower head, though, because I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on the first time I used it. Bill figured it out, but the glass paneling on the tub didn’t do a good job of keeping the water from getting all over the floor. I used the handheld sprayer instead, which still got water on the floor.
We never did turn on the TV, but we enjoyed the free minibar, which was stocked with water, juices, Coke, and beer. There was also a coffee and tea service. I think free mini bars are a really classy touch.
Separate WC with bidet and toilet. I loved the toilet, since it had enough water and pressure that I didn’t have to scrub it after each dump. Seriously, that’s a problem with German toilets. When I find one that doesn’t require that, I get excited.
Little corridor to the door. We even had a doorbell, which a housekeeper used when it was time to do turndown service.
Nice sinks with high quality toiletries. The towels were huge and plush, too.
I spent just under $600 for two nights in this room. Yeah, we could have stayed somewhere else for less money, but this was a very comfortable room.
The hotel and the cathedral are right by the train station! So convenient.
After we checked in, we walked over to Cologne’s beautiful cathedral, which has a history dating from 1248 and was completed in 1880. The last time we went in there was in May 2012. Bill cried over how beautiful it was. This time, there weren’t any tears, but I did get plenty of photos of the inside. Here are a few of them.
My favorite of the stained glass windows. This picture doesn’t do it justice.
Good luck getting the whole cathedral in your pictures. I think I might have succeeded yesterday.
Yeah… so pretty!
Even the floor is beautiful.
The cathedral has a tower you can climb. It’s over 500 steps to the observation deck, which rewards you with beautiful views of Cologne. Although we are usually game to climb the church towers, we didn’t get around to it this time.
I actually took more photos than I’ve posted here. I also took some in 2012, when we visited the cathedral the first time. It’s definitely one of my favorite cathedrals so far. It costs nothing to visit, although you’ll see some red robed men walking around with donation boxes, as well as a couple of them in the cathedral itself.
After we walked around the Dom, we stopped by the Gaffel Koelsch restaurant, which is a huge restaurant we visited the first time we were in Cologne. It specializes in Koelsch beers and hearty German fare.