Where to Stay in Cologne (+ Best Hotels City Centre)

A full guide to where to stay in Cologne, Germany (+ the best places to stay for the Christmas market, hotels near the Central Train station and castle hotels near Cologne).

Located on the banks of the Rhine River, Cologne is the largest city in the North Rhine-Westphalia region. With its stunning Gothic cathedral and rich history tracing back to the Roman Empire, Cologne is one of the most popular destinations in Germany. The city is also famous for its Carnival, which takes place in February, and its magical Christmas market in December.

With its excellent transport links, Cologne is an ideal base to explore the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. Places like Bonn, Aachen, Essen, and Düsseldorf are reachable in less than an hour by either train or car.

In this guide to where to stay in Cologne, you’ll find the best hotels near the Cologne Cathedral, the Central train station and the best places to stay for the Christmas market. And if you’re dreaming of staying in a castle near Cologne, I’ve got you covered as well!

Where I stayed in Cologne

My favourite area to stay in Cologne is Altstadt (the Old Town). It’s the ideal place to stay for sightseeing and the Christmas market. I stayed here during my first trip to Cologne and it was very convenient, as the train station was just a few minutes away. Moreover, I found myself within easy walking distance of numerous restaurants and of course the iconic cathedral.

My favourite place to stay in Cologne: Legend Hotel
Why: ideal central location, just a short stroll away from Cologne Cathedral and train station
What I like: rooftop bar with cathedral view, fantastic restaurant

If you’re visiting Cologne for the first time, I highly recommend staying in the Altstadt, near the cathedral. You’ll be just a short stroll away from museums, great restaurants, transportation links and the boat terminals on the Rhine River.

Most popular hotel in Cologne

Looking for a great hotel, conveniently situated in Altstadt, close to the cathedral and the train station? Then check out CityClass Hotel am Dom – it is the most popular hotel in Cologne.

CityClass Hotel am Dom – Most popular

Guest rating: 8.3 | 5,190+ reviews

This stylish 4-star hotel is situated right in front of the stunning cathedral. The location is fantastic, close to restaurants, museums and the Christmas markets at the cathedral and Alter Markt. Rooms are modern with comfy beds and some of them feature beautiful views of the cathedral.

Why book – fantastic location, next to the cathedral and the train station, excellent breakfast with lots of choices

cologne cathedral altstadt
The iconic Kölner Dom is situated in the heart of Altstadt

Tips for booking a hotel in Cologne

Book early (if you’re visiting for the Christmas market or the carnival in February) – the Christmas market in Cologne is among the most popular ones in both Germany and Europe. Therefore, if you plan to visit during the holiday season, be sure to book your accommodation months in advance.

Visiting Cologne for the first time? Then take a look at my 1-day Cologne itinerary, which includes the most popular attractions and where to taste the famous local beer Kölsch.


Where to stay in Cologne, Germany

Altstadt – best area to stay in Cologne for sightseeing

The best place to stay in Cologne is Altstadt (Old Town), in particular the area south of Cologne Cathedral. Altstadt is full of history and charm, with old streets and pretty squares, such as Alter Markt and Heumarkt. By staying here you’ll be within easy reach of the city’s most popular attractions, including the cathedral, Museum Ludwig, Great St. Martin Church and Rhine River.

The Rhine River divides the city of Cologne into two parts, connected by several bridges. The Old Town (Altstadt), which lies on the west bank, is the city’s historic district. It is home to some of the city’s major landmarks, the most famous of which is Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). This impressive Gothic cathedral dominates the skyline for centuries and is one of the most visited attractions in Germany.

For shopping head to Schildergasse and Hohe Straße, home to department stores and flagship stores of major international brands. At their intersection, you’ll find Galeria Kaufhof, the city’s largest department store.

In Altstadt, you’ll find plenty of traditional breweries (known as brauhauses). Here you can enjoy the famous local Kölsch beer alongside delicious regional dishes. Some of my favourite places are Gilden im Zims, known for their fantastic pork knuckles, and Peters Brauhaus, where you can enjoy delicious sausages.

Altstadt is my favourite area to stay in Cologne whenever I’m in town for sightseeing or shopping. And I always highly recommend it to all travellers, who are visiting the city for the first time.

Take this panoramic city cruise and discover the city’s highlights from the water. You’ll pass along the iconic cathedral and the Altstadt district with its historic buildings and bridges.

Why stay in Altstadt (Cologne City Centre) for sightseeing

  • Altstadt is the best area to stay in Cologne for sightseeing, as it offers proximity to all major attractions and the train station as well
  • Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof), located just a short stroll from Altstadt, provides convenient connections to the rest of Germany
  • easy access to Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) by train from Köln Hauptbahnhof
  • walking distance to all major attractions, including the cathedral, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Museum Ludwig, City Hall and Rhine River

Hotels in Cologne City Centre (Best for couples)

Hotel Mondial am Dom – Most popular

Guest rating: 8.5 | 3,830+ reviews

Hotel Mondial am Dom boasts a fantastic location, opposite Museum Ludwig and a few minutes away from Cologne Cathedral. At Mondial 1516, you can try traditional German dishes while enjoying a view of the cathedral. There is also a Legs 11 café, offering snacks and exclusive coffee specialities.

Why book – 3min walk to the cathedral, great Spa area, parking on-site


Legend Hotel – Best rated

Guest rating: 9.2 | 910+ reviews

Legend Hotel is my favourite hotel in Cologne city centre. Situated in the heart of the Altstadt, directly adjacent to the historic City Hall, Legend Hotel offers unique views from its rooms. The modern rooms feature custom-made beds by LUIZ and gorgeous city views. Be sure to experience the excellent cuisine at Puls, where you can enjoy modern dishes with a historical twist. There is a also rooftop terrace, offering a magnificent view of the cathedral.

Why book – next to the City Hall, rooftop bar with cathedral view, fantastic restaurant

Hotels in Cologne City Centre (Best for families)

CityClass Hotel am Dom – Most popular

Guest rating: 8.3 | 5,190+ reviews

This chic hotel sits directly across from the magnificent cathedral. The location is superb, you’ll be just a short stroll from restaurants and popular attractions such as Museum Ludwig, Great St. Martin Church and the Rhine River. The rooms are modern, featuring cosy beds, and some offer stunning views of the cathedral.

Why book – central location, next to the cathedral and the train station, fantastic breakfast


CityClass Hotel Alter Markt – Best rated

Guest rating: 8.5 | 3,830+ reviews

Situated at the main square in the Old Town, Alter Markt, this hotel is just a 5-minute walk from the cathedral. The location is super, within walking distance of all main attractions, restaurants and the Rhine River. Rooms feature a modern design with a touch of history and some of them offer amazing views of Kölner Dom.

Why book – next to the City Hall, modern rooms with city views, great breakfast

Luxury hotels in Altstadt

Marriott Hotel – Most popular

Guest rating: 8.4 | 3,470+ reviews

Marriott Hotel is ideally located within a 5-minute stroll from the cathedral, the train station and the riverbank. There’s a great restaurant on-site, Cast Iron Grill, serving fresh, seasonal dishes made with local ingredients. Make sure to visit the Plüsch Bar, offering over a hundred whiskeys and bourbons, including rare finds from Buffalo Distillery.

Why book – 5min walk to the cathedral and the train station, spacious rooms, excellent breakfast


Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom – Best rated

Guest rating: 8.9 | 1,000+ reviews

For an unforgettable luxury experience, reserve a room at Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom. This grand hotel, family-owned since 1863, is located directly opposite the cathedral. You can enjoy exotic Asian dishes at Taku (Michelin-star restaurant) and French gourmet cuisine at Hanse Stube. There is also a Wintergarten, offering delicious patisserie and afternoon tea, and a Piano Bar with live music.

Why book – 2min walk to the cathedral and the train station, Michelin-star Asian restaurant, wellness centre

Apartments in Altstadt

Haus am Dom – Most popular

Guest rating: 9.0 | 1,050+ reviews

Offering a stunning view of the cathedral, these apartments are conveniently located just a short distance from everything. Each apartment features a small kitchenette with a coffee machine and a microwave.

Why book – 5min walk to the cathedral and the train station, luggage storage, quiet location, easy check-in

cologne old town colourful houses
Altstadt – the best area to stay in Cologne

Best hotels near Cologne Central Station

Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof), is one of Germany’s busiest railway stations. It serves as a major transportation hub for both regional and international travel, offering connections to cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, and beyond.

The central station is in the heart of the city, right beside the stunning Cologne Cathedral. It’s the first thing you’ll see as you step out of the station. Köln Hauptbahnhof is known for its impressive architecture, featuring a large glass roof and a historic facade.

Staying next to the central station means you’ll have easy access not just to major transportation connections but also to the Cologne Stadtbahn (light rail system). Plus, you’ll be just a short walk from all major attractions, including the cathedral, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, City Hall and numerous shops and restaurants.

Here are some of the best hotels near Cologne Central Station.


Savoy Hotel – Best mid-range

Guest rating: 8.8 | 3,130+ reviews

Located just a short stroll from the central station, the Savoy Hotel is the perfect choice for an overnight stay. There is a wellness centre, featuring a bio sauna, steam room, polar ice pool and infrared cabins. You can enjoy afternoon tea at the fireplace lounge, great cocktails at the DIVAS bar and BBQ dishes at the roof terrace and sun lounge.

Why book – 5min walk to the train station, 24-hour reception, spacious rooms, great Spa


Marriott Hotel – Best luxury

Guest rating: 8.9 | 1,000+ reviews

For a luxury overnight stay, book a room at the Marriott Hotel. The hotel is conveniently situated just a short walk from Köln Hauptbahnhof and the Rhine River. You can enjoy delicious meals made with local ingredients at the on-site Cast Iron Grill Restaurant. Don’t forget to check out the Plüsch Bar, which features a selection of over a hundred whiskeys and bourbons, including rare gems from the Buffalo Distillery.

Why book – 5min walk to the train station, 24-hour reception, spacious rooms, excellent breakfast

cologne central station
Cologne Central Station – the best area to stay for one night

Alter Markt – where to stay in Cologne for Christmas market

Dating back to 1820, the Christmas market in Cologne is one of the most popular markets in Europe. The city is home to several themed Christmas markets with the largest ones situated at the cathedral, in front of the City Hall, and at Neumarkt Square.

The best place to stay in Cologne for the Christmas market is Alter Markt. Adjacent to the City Hall (Rathaus), this is the city’s main square, home to the biggest Christmas market in Cologne.
Two other large Christmas markets (at the cathedral and Heumarkt) are just a quick walk from Alter Markt. By staying here, you’ll have easy access to the festive atmosphere and the stalls with seasonal delights.

In addition to the Christmas market, staying near Alter Markt also puts you close to other tourist attractions, such as the Kölner Dom, Hohenzollern Bridge, and Museum Ludwig. You can easily explore the city’s landmarks and attractions during your visit to the Christmas market.

I love staying near Alter Markt when I visit the city for the Christmas markets. Everything I need is conveniently within reach – from markets to restaurants and historic landmarks. And my favourite Christmas market, Heinzels Wintermärchen, is just around the corner!

Find everything you need to know to plan your Christmas holiday in Germany in my Cologne Christmas Market guide.

Why stay near Alter Markt for the Christmas market

  • Alter Markt is the most central place to stay for the Christmas market, putting you within walking distance of three big Christmas markets
  • Alter Markt is home to one of the best Christmas markets in the city – Heinzels Wintermärchen
  • the Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof) is less than 10min away, providing easy access to Cologne Bonn Airport and the rest of Germany

CityClass Hotel Alter Markt – Best mid-range

Guest rating: 8.5 | 3,830+ reviews

Located at the main square, Alter Markt, this hotel overlooks one of the city’s biggest Christmas markets, Heinzels Wintermärchen. Its superb location means you can easily walk to all the main attractions, restaurants and the nearby Christmas markets at the cathedral and Heumarkt Square. The rooms blend modern design with a touch of history, and some even offer stunning views of Kölner Dom.

Why book – next to the Christmas market at Alter Markt, modern rooms with city views, great breakfast


Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom – Best luxury

Guest rating: 8.9 | 1,000+ reviews

For a luxury holiday, stay at Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom. This historic hotel, owned by the same family since 1863, sits right across the Christmas market at the cathedral. There is a Michelin-starred restaurant, Taku, offering exotic Asian cuisine and a French gourmet restaurant, Hanse Stube. Relax in the afternoon at the Wintergarten with tasty pastries and tea, and later, enjoy live music at the Piano Bar.

Why book – next to the Christmas market at the cathedral and the Christmas Market Express, wellness centre

cologne christmas market
Stay near Alter Markt if you’re visiting Cologne for the Christmas market

Friesenplatz – where to stay in Cologne for nightlife

The best area to stay in Cologne for nightlife is the Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel), near Friesenplatz. This area is known for its trendy vibe and cool variety of bars, pubs, clubs, and live music venues. Whether you’re into electronic music, live bands, or cosy pubs, you’ll find something to suit your tastes near Friesenplatz.

Located northwest of the city centre, the Belgian Quarter is known for its hip and trendy atmosphere. This area is filled with everything from chic cocktail bars and trendy cafes to underground clubs and vintage shops. Staying near Friesenplatz puts you also within walking distance (20min walk) of the Old Town and the major tourist attractions, including the cathedral.

Here are some of my favourite cocktail bars in the area – Seiberts (known for its stylish atmosphere and fantastic cocktails), Woods (a cosy spot with unique cocktails), Spirits (a relaxed classic cocktail bar) and Little Link (serving creative and funny cocktails).

If you’re looking for a neighbourhood with a cool vibe and trendy cafes and bars, I’d highly recommend staying near Friesenplatz.

Why stay near Friesenplatz for nightlife

  • Friesenplatz with its numerous bars, clubs and pubs is the best place for nightlife in Cologne
  • join this Brewery Tour with 3 Kölsch Beer Tastings and discover the city’s famous brewing culture
  • the Altstadt (Old Town) and the famous shopping streets Schildergasse and Hohe Straße are within walking distance (20min walk) or a short metro ride away (lines 3, 4, 5 from Friesenplatz station)

Ruby Ella Hotel – Most popular

Guest rating: 8.4 | 6,240+ reviews

Conveniently located right next to Friesenplatz, Ruby Ella Hotel is the ideal base to explore the city’s nightlife. The hotel’s modern and trendy design connects with its rich history, as it occupies the former studio where Germany’s top talk shows were once filmed. There is a 24-hour bar, where you can enjoy coffee or cocktail any time of the day or night!

Why book – right next to Friesenplatz and a metro station, 24-hour bar, modern rooms


Lindner Hotel City Plaza – Best rated

Guest rating: 8.5 | 3,190+ reviews

Situated in the trendy Belgian Quarter, Lindner Hotel is only a short stroll from Friesenplatz and its vibrant nightlife. The hotel features a lively bar with a large terrace (and great cocktails) and a modern Spa area with a sauna. Rooms are modern with comfy beds, offering the perfect place to rest after a night out!

Why book – 2min walk to Friesenplatz and a metro station, 24-hour reception, amazing Spa

friesenplatz nightlife cocktails
Head to Friesenplatz for the best nightlife in Cologne

Best hotels near Koelnmesse, Cologne

Founded in 1924, Congress-Centrum Koelnmesse is one of the largest trade fair organizers in the world. The Koelnmesse Exhibition Centre covers a vast area, with approximately 284,000 square meters of exhibition space spread across multiple halls and buildings. Some of the most popular events at Koelnmesse include Gamescom (Europe’s largest gaming trade fair), Imm Cologne (International Furniture Fair) and Anuga (the world’s largest food and beverage trade fair).

Koelnmesse is the best area to stay if you’re visiting the city for an event or exhibition. The trade fair grounds are conveniently situated in the Deutz district of Cologne, adjacent to the River Rhine. It is within walking distance of the city centre and its major tourist attractions, including Kölner Dom. The area is also well-connected by public transportation to Altstadt (Old Town) and its main shopping streets (metro lines 3 and 4 or S-Bahn line S11 from Koelnmesse station).

Here are the best hotels near Koelnmesse and Lanxess Arena.


Radisson Blu Hotel – Best mid-range

Guest rating: 8.4 | 9,860+ reviews

Situated directly opposite the trade fair grounds, Radisson Blu Hotel is the best place to stay near Koelnmesse. Rooms are modern and spacious, featuring heated bathroom floors. The hotel’s restaurant, Ellipse, offers international cuisine and Mediterranean specialities.

Why book – 5min walk to Koelnmesse and metro station, parking garage, excellent breakfast


Hyatt Regency – Best luxury

Guest rating: 8.6 | 5,250+ reviews

Situated directly on the riverfront, Hyatt Regency is the ideal place for both business and leisure travellers. The hotel is only 15min walk or 2min ride by public transport from Koelnmesse (metro line 3, 4 from Deutz/Messe station or tram ride line 1, 9 from Deutzer Freiheit station). Additionally, you can reach the Old Town and the city’s iconic cathedral in less than 15 minutes on foot. There are 3 restaurants to choose from – Glashaus (International cuisine and sushi), Grissini (Italian cuisine), Sticky Fingers (street food) and the Legends bar, which features a summer terrace and excellent cocktails.

Why book – 15min walk to Koelnmesse (or 1 metro stop away), valet parking, rooms with stunning views, indoor swimming pool

cologne cathedral hohenzollern bridge view
View of Kölner Dom from Deutz district

Best castle hotels near Cologne, Germany

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re probably aware that I’m a big fan of castles. And in my opinion, staying in a castle or palace is a special and unforgettable experience. The best part? It costs the same as a hotel room in Cologne. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or want to explore the scenic area nearby, consider these fantastic castle hotels near Cologne, Germany.


Althoff Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg – Best luxury

Guest rating: 9.2 | 1,240+ reviews

Althoff Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg is my favourite castle hotel near Cologne. It is located in Bergisch Gladbach, just 16km from Cologne (a 30-minute drive or metro ride from Bensberg station). The hotel is set in an 18th-century Baroque palace with scenic gardens, built by Prince-Elector Johann Wilhelm II of Düsseldorf. The 1000m² wellness centre, complete with an indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna, is the perfect place to unwind and rejuvenate. For dinner, you have the option of dining at the 2 Michelin-starred Restaurant Vendôme, serving gourmet German cuisine, or Trattoria Enoteca, where you can enjoy Italian cuisine and wines. And don’t miss the Sunday champagne brunch at Jan Wellem Restaurant!

Why book – 30min by car (or 30min by metro) from Cologne, indoor pool, Michelin star restaurant


Schloss Auel Boutique Hotel – For golf lovers

Guest rating: 8.7 | 150+ reviews

Schloss Auel Boutique Hotel is an ideal destination for golf enthusiasts. It is located in Lohmar, less than 30 minutes away by car from Cologne. This boutique castle hotel occupies a converted 14th-century water castle. Schloss Auel features a 27-hole golf course and a private Spa. You have the option to stay in any of the boutique rooms within the castle, or you opt for the Forest Lodge or Golf Lodge.

Why book – 30min by car from Cologne, 27-hole golf course with driving range, public parking, excellent restaurant

Faqs about where to stay in Cologne

Where is the best place to stay in Cologne?

The best place to stay in Cologne is the Legend Hotel. The hotel’s location is ideal for sightseeing, just a brief walk from Cologne Cathedral and the train station. There is also a rooftop bar with amazing city views and an excellent restaurant.

Where to stay in Cologne for the Christmas market?

If you’re visiting Cologne for the Christmas market, stay in Altstadt, near Alter Markt. This is the main square in the Old Town, home to the city’s biggest Christmas market. Additionally, you can easily walk to two other big Christmas markets, located at the cathedral and Heumarkt.

What is the best area to stay in Cologne?

Altstadt (Old Town) is the best area to stay in Cologne for first-time visitors as it offers easy access to iconic attractions, such as Cologne Cathedral, Rhine River cruises and the train station.

Best hotels to stay in Cologne, Germany

🔝 Most popular hotelCityClass Hotel am Dom8.3 | 5,190+ reviews
🏩 Best mid-range hotelLegend Hotel9.2 | 920+ reviews
💎 Best luxury hotelExcelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom8.9 | 1,000+ reviews
💖 Best hotel for couplesHotel Mondial am Dom8.5 | 3,830+ reviews
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best hotel for familiesCityClass Hotel Alter Markt8.5 | 3,830+ reviews

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About the author

Avatar Milena Yordanova
I am a full-time traveller and I have visited over 20 countries across 2 continents. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places, cultures and food. I’m an expert in travel planning and I am here to help you plan your dream vacation.

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