This year the annual Frankfurt Book Fair runs October 12-16, 2011, and the city will be packed out. At any other time of the year, to be right at the heart of it all, try the venerable Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof.
I had arranged a pickup from the airport. The young concierge driving the stretch-Mercedes said it would take only ten minutes, as we purred along. Arriving in the hotel’s marble lobby, we head straight for the elevator to the top fifth floor. There are 321 rooms here and I think number 555 must be the best. It looks right past the lifesize gargoyles perched on the building’s exterior down to a semi-circular Ehrenhof outdoor courtyard below that is an A-list meeting place all day long.
Although this is the oldest luxury hotel in town it is still the hub of business life (and as well as sharing your breakfast room with top bankers you might, say, recognize Yoko Ono at a corner table). And, by the way, it is a commendably German habit to have a dedicated breakfast room. Here, you have crisp starched linens and fresh orchids, and a buffet that includes more kinds of yogurt and healthy brown breads than any menu planner could shake a book at.
I took long walks around the immediate locale, looking at the soaring headquarters of Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank and their financial colleagues. I ran two blocks south to the Main river, over Untermainbrücke and into the Sachsenhausen area of the city. On weekends all this is quite peaceful: by contrast, Frankfurt’s 700,000 overall population swells to a million during the working week.
Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof is, admittedly, geared to this weekday finance. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of GM Armin Schroeker, there are piles of business newspapers in many places, just right for international CEOs (do they also have time to try the exfoliating mittens and pot of skin-refreshing bath salts in the bathroom?). They probably do not have a visit to the compact gym in their agenda, but exercise can be gained by using the stately, original marble staircase (132 steps from lobby to the top floor), or by walking the fascinating streets of centre-city. Yes, there is lots of networking here, at the Michelin-starred Français weekday-only restaurant, all-time Oscar’s, the book-filled Library, or at that breakfast. And also at cigar haven Cigarrum—to celebrate those business deals sealed, no doubt.