Apart from it being Germany’s richest city, the nation’s advertising and fashion capital (where Claudia Schiffer was discovered), and the hub of many Japanese corporations and banks, it’s also a city of eclectic art — ultimates and extremes, a sensational mix of over-the-top, old and new.
Radical architecture dominates the Media Harbour were, instead of warehouses and silos, stand edgy art installations designed by world-renowned Canadian-born Frank Gehry. Their warped facades, not dissimilar to the surrealist art of Salvador Dali, capture the imagination.
The two buildings which caught my eye were the Roggendorf-Haus, with its outrageous plastic figures climbing up the exterior, and a chrome office block which glistened when the sun managed to peak out of the unkind skies, reflecting off its metal surfaces. It all blends seamlessly with the surrounding Rococo and Baroque architecture.
In the city centre the elegant Konigsallee Boulevard, a thoroughfare divided by a moat, with a lush park down the centre, is said to be where money is made as on one side of the moat are banks and businesses and facing them on the opposite side are flagship haute couture boutiques.
Only a few steps away is the Old City, lined with narrow cobbled streets and ancient buildings lined with shops selling antiques, books, and modern art, punctuated by exclusive clothing boutiques like The Headshop (Burgplatz 2-3) who specialise in punk, Goth and rock gear – complete with a selection of alternative footwear; a mustard deli, Dusseldorfer Senfladen (Bergstrasse 29), who specialises in gourmet treats like fig mustard, apricot mustard, sesame oil mustard, cayenne mustard – sample a dozen or more varieties and browse the mustard museum; the kitsch 70s revival boutique, Vaseline (Wallstrasse 35), selling colourful, fun and plastic design objects and clothing of that era; and at Et Kabuffke (Flingerstrasse 1) you’re assured a genuine Dusseldorf treat in their speciality Killepitsch – a premium herbal liqueur (and no, it’s not considered impolite to start drinking at 9AM – this is Germany remember). The daily market at Carlsplatz is a gourmet’s haven with local and exotic fruits, vegetables, seafood, spices, flowers – and an alternative lunchtime treat of German bread and fresh soups; or if you’d prefer to eat with the locals, head to Zum Schlussel (Bolkerstrasse 41-47), a traditional brewery house where large dishes of Dusseldorf’s home-style cooking is served with Schlussel, their micro-brewed beer.
Other than the countless art exhibitions, concerts, and museums to visit, every day of the week something different is happening in the city. Over the next few months there’s a jazz festival, a cart-wheeling tournament, an international skiing competition, costume balls, a torchlight procession through the city, a carnival celebrating the Old Town, the Christmas Shopping Market – just to mention a few. Visit Dusseldorf’s tourism website to see what’s on when you plan to visit — http://www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/default_en.php.
Eight kilometres from the airport (€18 cab ride) and in the city’s richest shopping area of Königsallee Boulevard, is the luxury 10 storey Intercontinental Dusseldorf. A hotel inspired by the artistic greats boasting the largest ballroom in the city and a 500m² atrium wall dedicated to art.
My room was ample, the decor elegant. The bathroom, complete with a heated stone floor, two shower heads, and lots of glass – is a luxurious treat. The meal I enjoyed at the Caliga, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, was positively sinful, guilting me into spending an hour in the Holmes Place gym next to the hotel and connected via a hallway.
My job as a journalist is to find something wrong with everything. To find discord where there is harmony; to sprinkle hay fever dust all over the perfect summer’s day. As such I had visions of having a field day at the Intercontinental purely because I’m not big on business hotels, in fact I avoid them at all costs as I don’t like my bags being taken, or overpaying for services, and loathe having to constantly tip everyone; but I didn’t get that feeling here. The best aspect of this hotel is its ever smiling multi-lingual service staff, especially the bellmen and lobby staff who were very attentive and helpful.
Alternative accommodation: The four-star Mercure (Stresemannplatz 1) is conveniently located to the main train station. €55 bought me a small twin room, tastefully decorated with a comfortable mould-to mattress bed and a temperamental air-conditioner. A really good all-you-can-eat breakfast was €15 extra.
www.mercure.com – check their website for specials
Ph +49 (0)211 35540