Amsterdam, Cologne, Luxembourg & the Mosel Valley
I had a hectic schedule for this trip, beginning with a 7:30 Eurostar from London and a follow on Thalys at 11:50 to Amsterdam. The Thalys train shortens the journey to Amsterdam by an hour and in my experience it is certainly worth the additional cost. Not only do you arrive in Amsterdam faster, but the train is very comfortable. The cost of an upgrade to first is also very affordable, and comes with lounge access (after signing up for a free membership) and a meal. After a day running round I was due in Cologne that evening. I caught the ICE train between Amsterdam and Cologne, a high speed German train which is very modern and comfortable, both in first and standard class. The major benefit of first class is that it has more room, very comfortable seats (I fell asleep shortly into the journey!) and table service.
Cologne is a city that knows how to make a good first impression. From the moment you step out of the train station you stand at the foot of the imposing cathedral. I was certainly keen to explore and I did manage to squeeze in a couple of sights in between meetings. Cologne also offers plenty of high street shopping with its many pedestrianised streets. Good food is also readily available with the Hotel Im Wasserturm featuring a Michelin star restaurant with panoramic views of the city, and the many different squares offering great alfresco dinning opportunities. I felt very much when I left Cologne that I had run out of time. I would certain recommend a 3 night break. Or if you are travelling on, it is an essential stop over.
Although I wasn’t ready to leave Cologne I was excited about the next leg of the trip. I took the scenic route from Cologne to Koblenz with a slow train down the Rhine. For anyone travelling across Germany, I would recommend this because although it may add a small amount of time to your journey, it does offer at times some great views. From Koblenz I changed to a train bound for Luxembourg, which took me through the Mosel Valley. This train offered even more spectacular views as it follows the river closely for the first half of your journey. There were so many little towns that looked so inviting. I just wanted to stop for a while, walk around… and maybe experience a little wine tasting. Next trip sorted!
As the train journey was coming to an end I was offered yet more views, this time of Luxembourg where I was hopping off for a few last meetings. Then it was all too soon time for my journey home.
In Cologne my first night was in the Art’otel, and I have to say that this hotel is great value for money. As with all Art’otels they have their own featured artist who dictates the style of the hotel. The art theme is certainly prevalent throughout the hotel, and the design is very modern. But the rooms were spacious, the beds comfy and the shower very good. Not to mention after a long day of travel, you can take advantage on the Sauna which is free of charge and open till late! Another nice feature is that all rooms come with an espresso machine as well. There is also a rooftop terrace which provides a nice place to sit outside and overlook the city, and of course it is right next to the chocolate museum (which I took advantage of the very next day!).
My second night was staying at the Pullman Hotel. I was lucky enough to have a room on the 10th floor with a view of the Cathedral. And although it was a standard room, I did find it very spacious as well. The hotel of course comes with all the extras including a sauna and fitness centre. There is also an option to upgrade to the executive rooms, which come with the added benefits of an espresso machine, free minibar and access to the executive lounge. The hotel also has an excellent bar called GeorgeM, which offers food, drink and great city views featuring the Cathedral. This bar is definitely worth a visit even for those not staying at the hotel, especially at night as the city lights up. The hotel is located toward the centre of town, and really at the heart of Cologne’s shopping district.