At the cornerstone-laying ceremony of Villa Kennedy in 2003, the mayor of Frankfurt, Petra Roth, said in her speech that she was happy to have the “first luxury hotel” in her town. Actually, there is no shortage of five-star hotels in Germany’s financial hub. Unfortunately, some of their general managers attended the event, and turned stonefaced when they heard the mayor’s faux pas.
Though the hotel is one of more than a dozen luxury five-star-properties in town, it is unique in so many ways. Having been to Frankfurt multiple times, I never spent a single night south of the Main River, because almost all other upscale hotels are either located in the northern part of the city – where the financial district, shopping malls, exhibition centres and central train station are – or around the airport. The Villa Kennedy is roughly halfway, in the quiet district, Sachsenhausen, which is famous for museums, bars and traditional cider houses.
The main building of the hotel impresses with a palace-like historic façade carved from sandstone. Built in 1904, Villa Speyer was once home to the family of banker Georg Speyer and later to a research institute, before it was turned into a hotel. The original wooden stairs and ceilings in the lobby still radiate the old world charm of the early 20th century. One of the conference rooms still has the original wooden window shutters that are operated by a crank handle. It is probably these details that motivated hotelier Sir Rocco Forte to add this gem to his collection of luxury properties.
It is difficult to tell when exactly you enter the three newly-built wings of the hotel, which are home to most of the 163 rooms and suites, because London-based architect Demetri Porphyrios has used original façade materials and adopted the fanciful gothic-renaissance style of the historic Villa Speyer.
Interior designer Martin Brudnizki and Rocco Forte Hotels’ director of design, Olga Polizzi, have added “minimalist deluxe” interiors such as large antique pink sofas, and the lobby is filled with works by Axel Crieger, who has composed photolike images showing John F. Kennedy.
Business travellers are the core target group, but the hotel is well prepared for families. As we enter Suite 101, the baby bed is already in place, and a changing table and an extra bin greet us in the bathroom. The toddler-sized bathrobe and slippers are heart-warming extras; fortunately our little boy is too young to be interested in DVDs or the Play Station, which are available on request.
More important for adults are the pillow menu, the espresso machine, two flat-screen TVs and the complimentary pressing service.
Beige and brown tones dominate the suite’s interior, deliberately disturbed by colourful elements like cushions and floral arrangements. We enjoyed the calm and functional atmosphere, but other guests might expect more opulence and decadence from one of the most expensive hotels in Frankfurt.
If you have EUR 8,000 (US$11,500) to spare, check in for a night in one of the largest Presidential Suites in Europe. The windows of the 326 square metre suite are of course bullet-proof, the bathroom is equipped with heated flooring and there is a TV in the bathtub. A chimney and a grand piano in the living room make you feel almost at home. Broadway veteran Liza Minelli was the first guest to stay here, and celebrities like Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Pink, Robbie Williams and Bruce Willis followed in the five years the hotel has been open.
The German national football team also meets at the Villa Kennedy before departing to international matches, so it is no surprise to see a club executive and a first division coach sitting at JFK’s Bar. It is a sunny day, so we decide to take a seat in the idyllic inner courtyard for a drink.
Following a global trend, bartenders here are called “mixologists” and create immortal concoctions as well as modern inventions of cocktail science. The hotel’s signature drink (blackberry with a touch of vanilla, vodka and champagne) is a good companion to relax under the huge Canadian Oak Tree, which had to be lifted by a crane into the courtyard.
The same goes for the spa area. I had planned to save the beautiful pool and sauna for late afternoon after my massage treatment, but after the physiotherapist finishes her work on my unfit limbs, I regret my decision. My body is now simply too relaxed to sweat in the steam or gym, and I am resigned to lounging instead. Next time I should opt for a Thai massage or an Ayurvedic treatment, which are also offered at the spa.
It is worth noting that the hotel even has a partnership with a nearby private clinic that specialises in internal medicine and health checkups. This kind of service is especially popular with guests from the Middle East, says Dr. Ulrich Mondorf, who counts 80 patients from the Gulf region alone. Just one more reason to extend your stay a few nights longer.
THE IMPORTANT BIT
What: Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt
Location: Kennedyallee 70, 60596 Frankfurt, Germany
Cost: from US$331 per night