Travel Tips for Munich and Frankfurt

May 29, 2014
Shirley M. Mueller, M.D.

Finding the right accommodations while on vacation is not always easy. Even opulent, well-reviewed hotels have their own little quirks and oddities, Shirley Mueller, MD, finds.

Whether you go to Munich or Frankfurt you will encounter sausage. To me, they are glorified hot dogs, but to Germans they are something entirely different. They are revered. Regions of Germany even have their own varieties, each having a specific flavor.

Most visitors don’t get caught up too much in these cuisine details. They find Munich and Frankfurt are so much more than what you eat. They encompass history, art, and outdoor spaces. Plus, Munich especially, exudes elegance.

My husband and I stayed in Munich and Frankfurt for 12 days recently: 6 days in Munich and 3 in Frankfurt with the remaining time spent in-between. The 2 cities were easy and especially in Frankfurt, most of the sights were readily walkable.

The Hotel Opera in Munich, Germany. Photo by author.

In Munich we lodged at the Opera, a 4-star boutique hotel centrally located. We requested a newly renovated room. Though it looked terrific, it was small with a lot of sharp edges for elbow bumps and nowhere to sit but on the bed. The daybed accommodation by the window was simply too uncomfortable to lounge on. The clincher, though, were the mirrors, excessive in my opinion. Though people like to look at themselves, maybe not quite so much. These were prevalent in the lobby as well plus there were unexpected steps virtually everywhere in the public areas.

Weird,” is the way another guest described it. A softer description might be “unusual.” Whatever the take, the Opera Hotel is one that would suit only specific tastes, in general—those who prefer the feeling of opulence over comfort.

The Kempinski Hotel is also located centrally in Munich and might be a better choice. It is 5 stars, larger and has more conventional rooms—a plus, at least for me.

The Steigenberger in Frankfurt. Photo by Thomas M. Mueller.

In Frankfurt, we lodged at the Steigenberger, a 4- or 5-star hotel, depending on the source. After booking and prepaying for our visit (to save 15%), I found online that there is some controversy about the hotel. Visitors who were assigned to rooms that were not renovated were unhappy. Therefore, upon arrival I asked specifically for a modernized accommodation. The hotel provided it and not only at 3 pm, at check in, but immediately when we arrived at 10 am.

The hotel is central, plus our room was trendy and pleasing. Our bathroom seemed bigger than all outdoors and the shower was divine. It had German engineering so the temperature of the water could be electronically controlled outside the shower stall. This avoided the threat of being pummeled with cold or hot water when entering.

Although we did not eat breakfast at the hotel, we did eat dinner at Oscar’s, one of the several restaurants in the hotel. My husband’s martini was made with ginger ale, perhaps innovative, but anything but traditional. The food was only okay, in my opinion, which made it overpriced.

I would definitely stay at the Steigenberger again, but probably eat elsewhere. There are many good restaurants within easy walking distance including an excellent sit-down hamburger cafe within 2 blocks. Also, the concierge staff at the hotel was knowledgeable and friendly, plus adept and able to accommodate even the most challenging requests.

For those who prefer an American infusion while in Germany, there is a Hilton that is also centrally located, though not as much so as the Steigenberger. Also, it is hardly as distinguished. There is one thing about the Hilton that would have been a plus to us, however. Certainly, they must competently make American martinis!

Travel tips

Hotels

TripAdvisor includes ratings by travelers for hotels. When making the reservation, a money-saving option is to book directly with the hotel on the internet and prepay if a discount is offered, often 15% or 20%.

Cash or credit card for incidentals?

Rick Steves writes that the most cost effective way to exchange currency is to use an ATM machine in the foreign country. We normally do this, but also use our credit cards. The latter is obviously easier for a hotel bill that is not prepaid, because it is large.

For the smaller expenses, local currency proves to be a better choice. It cuts down on wondering if the foreign charges on one’s credit card on return are legitimate and makes re-entry into the United States easier.