Books – fashion – design. Belonging to Cologne publishing house Bastei Lübbe, this concept store (the name of which means ‘Seventh Heaven’ in English) is one of the few stylish bookshops in the city. Located in its Belgian Quarter, it appeals to both avid readers and design enthusiasts. As well as an original selection of reading material, you’ll find tasteful gifts, an impressive children’s book department and Scandinavian interior accessories. Besides the ever-attentive and well-informed staff, a particular highlight is the Büdchen display in the style of a Cologne newsagent’s or ’kiosk’ stocking everything from magazines to bargain paperbacks and the finest Danish liquorice. Seventh heaven for bookworms!
Brüsseler Str. 67, 50672, Cologne, siebterhimmel.de
Where in Cologne can you marvel at Germany’s bread culture in all its variety? Balkhausen. But don’t say we didn’t warn you: at peak times you should expect long queues outside these old-fashioned bakery. They are waiting to get their hands on a loaf with history: in 1915, shortly before he was elected Lord Mayor of the City of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer invented a method for making a type of ’Rhineland-style dark rye bread’ and had the recipe patented. And even though the food shortages of the First World War are long behind us now, the traditional bread is still a firm favourite at the popular bakery. Another tip: if you have a sweet tooth, make sure you try the delicious Domspitzen – little ‘cathedral spires’ made of marzipan and chocolate.
Apostelnstr. 27, 50667 Cologne
Is print dead? Far from it! If you ask store owner and magazine enthusiast Olga Funk, magazines are still very much alive. Which presumably explains why the Cologne local decided to take the plunge and open the city’s first store for independent print publications right in the middle of the coronavirus and its ensuing retail crisis. Not far from Hansaring, you will find rows and rows of carefully curated magazines (mostly in English) about art, design, society, literature and business. The range of topics is varied and very international. Opening the store is a dream come true for the qualified graphic designer, who has created her very own magazine treasure trove that is set to become a favourite in the Rhine metropolis.
Krefelder Str. 7–9, 50670 Cologne
Strictly speaking, Kleiderei doesn’t really belong in this list. That’s because the clothing store, which is managed by vintage and slow-fashion fan Lena Schröder, is a place where people come to rent rather than buy. For a fixed monthly fee, you can take all the garments home that your vintage heart desires. Since 2016, Kleiderei has been supplying the people of Cologne with chic second-hand fashion and unique accessories, while flying the flag for sustainable fashion consumption at the same time. And if you discover a favourite rental piece that you can’t bear to part with, there’s a good chance that the store’s friendly assistants will let you purchase it!
Venloer Str. 459, 50825 Cologne, kleiderei.com
Fortunately, Cologne is blessed with plenty of great record stores. But you won’t find a wider selection spanning all genres than at Parallel Schallplatten in the Belgian Quarter. Whether rock, indie, soul, jazz, hip-hop, country, electro, folk from all over the world or obscure soundtracks: their selection of records – both new and old – is excellent and includes sinfully priced rarities that will make any collector weak at the knees. And the store has even enticed one or two celebrity customers, such as former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, who would regularly come here to stock up on records for his collection whenever he was performing in Cologne.
Brabanter Str. 2–4, 50674 Cologne, parallel-schallplatten.de