Bev Fearis had one night to explore Cologne before joining a Rhine river cruise and found the ideal base at the NH Collection Koln Mediapark.
Location: I had worried, from the name, that the hotel was going to be stuck in a soulless business park miles from the action, but in fact the Mediapark is a pleasant, leafy district right on the edge of the city, an easy 10-minute walk to Cologne’s downtown. It’s next door to the Cologne Tower, the city’s tallest building, and looks out over a small ornamental lake to the front and parkland to the back. The Mediapark has a cinema, library and some funky-looking office buildings. It was developed around the turn of the millennium to entice media companies to the city. Many have since left – and gone to Berlin – but enough have stayed to keep the media vibe.
First impressions: I took the train from Cologne Airport, relying on friendly, English-speaking locals to reassure me that I was on the right platform and boarding the right train. From Koln Hansaring Station it’s a 10-minute walk to the classy-looking seven-storey, glass-fronted hotel, designed by world-famous French architect Jean Nouvel. Four large plant pots and a carpet lead to the tall entrance. It was a cold night so I was glad to step inside the warm, cosy lobby and be greeted with a smiley welcome from the young receptionist.
The rooms: There are 217 rooms, all stylishly refurbished when the hotel was upgraded in 2016 to become part of NH’s Collection brand. They’re minimal and contemporary but still homely in white and oatmeal with funky red chairs giving a splash of colour. I particularly liked the simple white desk and the swivel desk chair on wheels. The free Wi-Fi was super speedy and it was also good to have both a Nespresso machine and a kettle. The bathrooms are a generous size and spotlessly clean. Ask for a room at the front for views of the lake and Cologne’s famous cathedral in the distance.
Wining and dining: The funky gold-coloured bar, on the right of the lobby, looks enticing, particularly in the evenings when it glows. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to try it because a colleague had recommended heading to a typical brauhaus downtown to get a traditional Cologne experience. The hotel’s restaurant, left of the lobby, is simple and contemporary with floor to ceiling windows looking out to the lake and dominated by a large black and white print of the Cologne skyline. It doubles as the breakfast room. There are plans to bring in a restaurant brand to entice more locals. The breakfast buffet was kept nicely replenished with hot food, fresh fruit and a particularly impressive choice of honeys, including a big slab of honeycomb.
The facilities: There’s a tiny gym, with maybe three or four pieces of equipment, a steam bath and sauna. If you want to work out, I would instead recommend a brisk walk or a job around the wilderness trails behind the hotel. There are seven meeting rooms, catering for eight people up to 250. They have lots of natural light and, for boring meetings, great views of the lake! There is parking for €20 a day.
The highs: Although it’s nearly four years since the hotel was renovated, it feels like it’s only just been done. In fact, it feels like a new-build. It must have a very good cleaning and maintenance team.
The lows: The gym was disappointingly small.
Verdict: Whether your clients are on business or on a short break, this hotel is in a great location and ticks all the boxes. If they are members of the group’s loyalty scheme, NH Rewards, they can also take advantage of ‘Lazy Sundays’, which include a free late checkout until 5pm.