The Cologne Marriott has been the subject of several reviews/posts. My reasons for returning to it now are twofold:
To confirm that the Hotel's refurbishment programme, covering Executive rooms and the Executive Lounge, was completed on 31st August 2013. My own reaction is very positive: but the new design, style and materials are clearly a step away from the traditional Marriott image – so be warned. The dominant colours are coffees, creams and greys; the furnitures – wooden and leather – and carpets follow the same scheme. The Lounge – incidentally one of the most generous in Europe – has also been updated to provide more seating.
To offer a few lines on Cologne itself:
a) Now the fourth largest city in Germany (1million +), it has a long and fascinating history. In the Middle Ages, it was one of the leading members of the Hanseatic (trading) League (but the good Prof is the expert on this topic); during the 16 - 18th centuries it held the status of a Free City, beholden to none of the other Princely Sates or the Catholic Church. The Napoleon arrived – and from 1801 the city was incorporated into the French Republic. This lasted only until Napoleon's defeat in 1815 when under the terms of the Congress of Vienna, it became a part of the Kingdom of Prussia.
b) This explains something that always mystified me: why the main railway bridge is called the Hohenzollern Bridge. The Hohenzollern dynasty had originated in Bavaria, but through a purchase and various military triumphs it “acquired” first Brandenburg (of which Berlin was the capital) and then Prussia itself – part of eastern Poland and what are now the states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; but none of these locations were anywhere near the Rhineland city of Cologne. However......................The Kingdom of Prussia under such famed leaders as Frederick the Great became the dominant force in middle-Europe before 1871. In that year the unification of the 30 or so individual states into Germany was formalised, not in Berlin as you might have imagined, but in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles – a deliberate piece of political spite – designed to confirm to the French (who had just been defeated in the Franco-Prussian War) and to the rest of Europe which country was now the proverbial “top-dog”. The Hohenzollern dynasty remained rulers of Prussia until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm 11 in 1919: the state of Prussia itself was abolished on 25th February 1947 by a law signed by representatives of the Allied occupation authorities.
But enough of history. Though one of the most heavily bombed German cities – its population was reduced by 95% during this period – Cologne today is a bustling commercial and tourist centre, substantially rebuilt, but retaining one of its great treasures, the Dom (started in1248 but not completed until 1880). Positioned on either side of the Rhine, it is itself worth a visit and is also a good “base” for a wide exploration of central/northern Germany. The Marriott itself is one of my favourites, not just because of the Lounge, but also because of the high customer service standards it maintains, and the ease of access from the nearby Hauptbahnhof.