WHAT’S IT LIKE? Built in 1973, the Sheraton Congress was the first hotel in the business district of Niederrad, to the southwest of Frankfurt city centre. The area has been somewhat superceded in recent years as firms have migrated to the newer district of Eschborn, but it is still home to companies including Nestlé, IBM and Siemens. At first sight, it is not an appealing location, being almost entirely non-residential and constructed in Seventies brutalist concrete, but redeeming features include superb transport links and proximity to the huge Frankfurt city woods. The Sheraton Congress is also a welcome surprise – from the outside, it is an unprepossessing tower block, but the interiors are bright and welcoming, and the service and facilities are excellent.
WHERE IS IT? In the heart of Niederrad, 10 minutes’ walk from the S-Bahn station (trains every 10 minutes to both the airport and city centre) and five minutes by car from the Frankfurter Kreutz, Germany’s busiest autobahn interchange.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 396, including 227 Classic, 44 Superior and 119 Executive Rooms, as well as six suites.
ROOM FACILITIES: Both the lobby and the rooms have been recently refurbished in warm, cheerful colours and provide a pleasant contrast to the greyness outside. All rooms come with a coffee machine, minibar, trouser press (ironing equipment is available on request) and easy-to-use air-conditioning. Incredibly, there is no in-room safe, but valuables can be stored with reception. Bathrooms are equipped with own-brand toiletries, good mirrors, a hairdryer and a shower over the bath. Wired internet access is available in the rooms (E17/US$26 for 24 hours), and Wi-Fi is provided in the lobby by T-Mobile (E8/US$12 for one hour).
RESTAURANTS: An extensive breakfast buffet is available in the main restaurant (6am to 10.30am), while lunch and dinner are served both here and in the adjacent rustic-style Stube. The excellent cuisine is modern European with traditional touches, and a wide selection of wines is available by the glass as part of Sheraton’s “Wines of the World” programme.
BARS: The L44 bar and lounge, to the left of the entrance, is pleasant for coffee and drinks (open 8am to midnight).
BUSINESS FACILITIES: All the conference facilities are on the ground floor at the back of the hotel, including 13 meeting rooms and a huge terrace on the edge of the park. The largest, the Arabella Salle, can hold up to 500 theatre-style and has French windows opening out onto the terrace. When I visited, there was a single computer for guest use behind the Star Meeting Concierge office, but there are plans to convert this into a venue for Starwood’s new Link@Sheraton concept. This will replace the traditional business centre with a larger and more relaxed working space, including a high-stool bar area, a counter serving coffee and snacks, flat-screen PCs and a “game” corner. The concept was pioneered in Sheraton’s Brussels property and has proved popular with business travellers.
LEISURE FACILITIES: One of the hotel’s biggest selling points is its 15-metre swimming pool, which is housed in the basement along with a sauna and steam room. At the time of writing, there was no gym onsite and guests had to take their towels down the road to a nearby facility, but the hotel plans to convert the seating area at the front of the pool into a fitness centre by the end of this summer. There are also plenty of jogging tracks in the park (maps are available from reception).
PRICE: Internet rates for a weekday stay in late August start at E125 (US$194) for a Classic single room, including VAT.
VERDICT: A very well-equipped hotel with comfortable rooms, excellent food and a very convenient location – worth a visit if only for the pool and forest access.
CONTACT: Lyoner Strasse 44-48, Frankfurt 60528, Germany, tel 49 69 66 330, sheraton.com