A peaceful retreat in the middle of the bustling city? That was owner Michael Kaune’s vision when he opened The Qvest hotel in the heart of Cologne in 2014. The impressive façade is more reminiscent of a monastery from the late 19th century than a chic, privately managed boutique hotel in the heart of Cologne. From 1897 until the 1970s, the neo-Gothic building housed the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne and was later used as the private library of an insurance company. These days, hotel guests from all over the world make the pilgrimage to Cologne’s Gereonsviertel district to spend a night at The Qvest, which proudly showcases a large number of art and design treasures collected by Kaune over the years. The interior is impressive: in the lobby, you’ll spot leather chairs by Mies van der Rohe and the walls are adorned with photography by Todd Hido and Richard Kern. Thirty-four individually furnished guest rooms (think Bauhaus and mid-century style) impress with their aesthetically pleasing details. The black bathroom tiles, for example, take their inspiration from the Paris Métro. And the hotel’s triumphant mix of modern design elements and contemporary art forms a harmonious contrast to the neo-Gothic style. You won’t find a more stylish place to stay in Cologne.
Hotel Qvest, Gereonskloster 12, 50670 Cologne, qvest-hotel.com
For those who prefer their hotels a bit more lively and vibrant: Maison Marsil is located right in the middle of the Bermudadreieck (Bermuda Triangle), the heart of Cologne’s gay nightlife scene. The individually and tastefully decorated rooms of the listed building (which was built in 1897) are like a home away from home and also ideal for solo travellers. And not only because the charmingly designed boutique hotel between Neumarkt and Rudolfplatz is named after a patron of the City of Cologne, Marsilius, but because each of the 18 rooms boasts a comfortable box-spring queen-size bed. The hotel gives off a laid-back, warm vibe with extremely friendly, young staff and original wooden parquet flooring that has lost none of its original creakiness. Cyrus C. Halabian and Frank Schmitz opened Marsil back in 1999 and it has proven particularly popular with musicians, filmmakers and other creatives ever since. This is no doubt also down to the cosy, dimly lit hotel bar on the ground floor, where you can sip cocktails with the hotel owners and other guests until late into the night.
Maison Marsil, Marsilstein 25–27, 50676 Cologne, marsil.de
King Georg Apartments
And it’s just as sociable at hip club-bar King Georg at Ebertplatz. While wild parties are going on in the bar of the same name downstairs, you can rest your weary head in one of the rooms on the upper floors. Guests can choose from four individually furnished apartments, decorated by owner André Sauer with plenty of attention to detail in the vibrant style of the seventies and eighties. Minimalists with an aversion to floral wallpaper might want to rethink their choice, or simply accept the well-worn retro look as a reminder of the establishment’s former red-light-district flair.
King Georg Apartments, Sudermanstr. 2, 50670 Cologne, kinggeorg.de
If you can get by without the need for extras like room service, you should check in at the Weltempfänger Backpacker Hostel & Café in Ehrenfeld. And thanks to their great music line-up, your evening entertainment is also covered: fantastic concerts by well-known indie musicians regularly take place here and are often free of charge. And the fact that you can enjoy the city’s most delicious chocolate cheesecake at the hostel’s own café more than makes up for its rather basic rooms.
Weltempfänger Backpacker Hostel & Café, Venloer Str. 196, 50828 Cologne, koeln-hostel.de
(by Katja Peglow)