In the third edition of our luxury travel views series, LUX Editor-in-Chief returns to Villa Kennedy, a Rocco Forte hotel in the centre of Frankfurt, to discover how it stands the test of time
Frankfurt is not a city known for either its romance or its luxury experiences. So, if someone suggested flying there for a romantic weekend, you might start doubting their sanity.
But bear with me here. Having landed at Frankfurt airport, a 15-minute taxi ride through a forest into Sachsenhausen, an area of grand villas, took me to the Villa Kennedy. A villa hotel with a spa a long way metaphorically from the skyscrapers of the city centre – although Sachsenhausen is just across the river from the financial district.
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I had been to the Villa before, when Rocco Forte first opened it in 2006, and was curious to see how Europe’s most endearing (and indeed enduring) hotelier has adapted it to the times.
This is a very exclusive hotel and the Zen-like atmosphere virtually wafted me up to the Jackie O. Suite, whose library room was bigger than that in many a decent home, and looked out over a tranquil central courtyard, via an extensive private terrace. The decor was sixties inspired, with swathes of gold, and the coffee table was laden with books on art and design. The bedroom was separated from the extensive bathroom area by corridor so long that you could take your exercise at the Villa Kennedy just by walking the length of your suite.
As well as being a financial capital of Germany, Frankfurt is close to the Rhine winelands, and it was pleasing to see a good selection of those wines by the glass at the Italian restaurant, Gusto, that evening. Gusto is on the ground-floor level by the internal courtyard, and while the weather was not good when I visited, I imagine sitting at a table in the courtyard would be a delightful Italianate experience on a sunny summer’s day.
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I needed to finish off a presentation ahead of my meetings the next day, and the calm atmosphere and efficient service were just what was required to accompany a laptop, a glass of Trocken Rheingau Riesling and some tuna tartare with ricotta and cucumber. Perhaps, though, the restaurant has missed a trick in being too efficient, feeling like a better place for a corporate dinner or an editor working on a laptop, than a more lingering and languid romantic dinner.
That’s probably due to the nature of Frankfurt, although it’s a bit of a shame. The hotel also has a celebrated spa, which I didn’t have time to visit on my overnight, but which caters to the Frankfurt elite. Combined with the efficient journey, the architecture, location, and magnificence of the suite, a visit to the spa would’ve been a perfect ending to a romantic break, as long as there was a cuisine experience to match. Turn Frankfurt into a lovers’ location: Sir Rocco, you have overcome many challenges in your colourful life, and here’s the next one. It just needs a softening of the dining area to add the right mix of atmosphere, and ecco. Done.