Although most travellers view Frankfurt as their gateway to Europe, Germany's fifth largest city is not without its charms. Frankfurt is the financial heart of Germany, and in order to please the city's resident and visiting glitterati, it has to have the luxurious infrastructure to keep them happy. From world class dining to shopping so eclectic it would make most fashionistas weep tears of joy, Frankfort has so much money coursing through the city it is only natural that it has attracted the pinnacle of luxury establishments for the discerning visitor.
The most popular shopping area in Frankfurt is the Zeil, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare that begins at Hauptwache and stretches all the way to Konstablerwache. Although the city's biggest department stores serve as bookends for Zeil, all the small shops and boutiques in between stock the finest luxury brands of clothing, shoes, leather goods and accessories that shoppers could want. The beautiful Zeilgalerie is certain to have a particular allure to shoppers, but the best shopping still remains in the small shops on the street including diamonds in the Swarovski gallery, the high-end label dealer of Peek & Cloppenburg and a number of new native German designers.
Although the Zeil has its share of high-end labels, it also features a number of bargain stores. For those that don't want to sort through the bargains, Goethestrasse and Schweizerstrasse both feature not only exclusively high-end designer shops, but jewelry shops as well.
Those looking for traditional souvenirs will find them in bulk in the Apfelwein district of Sachsenhause. However, for those that want something a little less kitschy than lederhosen, cuckoo clocks and German beer steins they should consider picking up some German wine, beer and some surprisingly good chocolate in the district instead.
Germany isn't particularly famous wine country like it's neighbours of Italy or France, but anyone who has had a premium vintage of Riesling or one of the sweet apple or cherry wines pass between their lips will be sure to sing the praises of its vineyards.
Although the skyscrapers of Frankfurt may suggest otherwise, the city actually sits on the outskirts of the Rheingau, the most famous of Germany's wine regions. Visitors can simply call a car or hop a train and be within wine country in half an hour. As spring comes to Frankfurt, everyone seems to be talking of the region as Ausfluge, or roughly translated to "day trips", as the perfect reason to get out of town. The Rheingau wine country provides the perfect escape. Visitors and locals alike take advantage of wine tours offered in any manner available. The most popular option for the discerning traveller is to taste the fine vintages of the Rheingau on water cruises on the beautiful Rhine River. These luxury yachts sailing from Frankfurt to Nuremberg in the west, Heidelberg in the south or as far as Cologne in the north, all showcase the rolling vineyards as they meld into fields and forests.
While the apple wine taverns in the Sachsenhausen district tend to keep to traditional Hessian fare, the culinary scene of Frankfurt has come a long way in recent years. German cuisine is more renowned for its heartiness rather than its creativity, but there are some German chefs within the city that seek to change that reputation.
The Maintower Restaurant is one such modern creative German restaurant. It sits atop the Helaba Landesbank skyscraper, capturing an unbeatable view of the city. The only thing that could rival the view from its floor-to-ceiling windows is the food. Chef Christian Hoehn fuses his seasonal menu with local German ingredients as well as international technique and inspiration into his signature dishes like wing of ray with duck liver and glazed artichokes.
Likewise, Doepfner's Im Maingau is yet another fine dining option for those that wish to sample Germany's new cuisine with class. The polished clientele that dine here are treated to a polished establishment that has revived nearly dead luxury dining practices such as meat carved at the table. The modern German dishes served by Chef Jorg Dopfner include asparagus salad with in-house made wild-boar ham, braised veal cheek and wild garlic risotto.
As a business-oriented city, the hotels of Frankfurt are all particularly expensive, especially if a trade fair is going on in the city. However, with the price, a certain level of quality has come to be expected, making even mid-level accommodations particularly nice. However, for those that stay at some of the truly ostentatious hotels, they will see luxury like it has never been seen before.
The neo-Gothic Frankfurter Hof is the first choice of visiting heads of state as well as business moguls, both of which keep coming back for the first class service and luxurious rooms. Its massive suites are filled with dark wood floors and brass accents with marble baths and whirlpool tubs. Even as one of the oldest hotels in the city, it has some of the most modern services.
Although less handsome on the outside than the Frankfurter Hof, the Hessischer Hof is just as lovely on the inside. Due to its close proximity to Frankfurt's convention centre, it is a popular choice among businessmen. The rooms are decorated with antiques that once belonged to the princes of Hesse, serving as the perfect centrepieces among the classical white walls that are accented by touches of gold, red and wooden colour.
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