Embracing the enchantment of Germany’s Frankfurt Rhine-Main region

The birthplace of the fairy tale. The home of the world’s smallest metropolis. The land sprawling with bountiful vineyards and elegant spas. The Frankfurt Rhine-Main region of Germany boasts all of that and more with a uniquely romantic charm and a distinctly hessian air that’s all at once luxurious and alluring.

Located in the central western part of Germany, this region spans through the three federal states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria, and covers a vibrant mosaic of landscapes throughout the cities and villages of Frankfurt am Main, Ashcaffenburg, Kassel, Seligenstadt, Wiesbaden, Mainz and more. The region is set amongst a landscape of shimmering shores along the Rhine and Main rivers and lushly rolling forests and vineyards among the area’s lofty hills.

Mostly famed as a major financial player in the world of stocks and banking, it’s the romantic riverscapes, fairytale-esque castles juxtaposed with half timbered cottages, decadent dining, designer shopping and natural beauty that ultimately lure discriminating travelers to come and enjoy the fruit of this magical and unknown gem of a destination.

Shop and Stay

Although the Frankfurt Rhine-Main region sits directly in the heart of Germany, this global metropolis boasts architectural and cultural influences from all around the world. It’s not uncommon in this region to see English landscaping-like the gardens at the Wilhelmshohe Park (www.wilhelmshoehe. de) in Kassel-Roman ruins-like the UNESCO World Heritage Limes barriers that run through Seligenstadt-and gorgeous German Renaissance castles-like the Johannisburg Castle in Aschaffenburg.

In fact, one of the most luxurious and popular hotels in the region actually comes to Frankfurt via Dubai. The Jumeirah Frankfurt (www.jumeirah.com) is a brand new, 25-story, 218-room, five-star hotel that is all at once modern and timeless with German art and Middle Eastern glamour merging to create an opulent ambiance. The hotel boasts amazing views of the city, world-class restaurants and lounges, a full-service spa, the latest in-room technologies (including heated flooring!), and is located within walking distance to the opera house and is directly attached to the famous Zeil Galerie (www.zeilgalerie.de) shopping district.

While the Zeil Galerie is great for scouting boutique finds and trendy pieces in a shopping mall setting, and even better for grabbing some local cuisine at the nearby Fressgass (Frankfurt’s culinary mile that literally translates to “munching street”), the real shopping takes place a little further out at Frankfurt’s version of Fifth Avenue: the Goethestrabe. It’s here shoppers can find everything from Armani and Versace to Cartier and Tiffany & Co., with collections from all the top international designers scattered throughout.

For a truly authentic, and epitomously opulent German hotel experience, it only requires a short 30-minute drive out to the countryside of the region to find the Hotel Kempinski Falkenstein (www.kempinski. com). This 104-room, five-star historical hotel was opened in 1875 and was used by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1909 as a respite for his imperial army. The hotel has been gloriously maintained and restored over the years, and now offers that same rejuvenation for travelers looking to soak in the region’s finest offerings with upscale versions of local cuisine at the numerous restaurants and lounges onsite and the award-winning ASCARA Spa (www.ascara-falkenstein.com) that offers an exclusive version of the THALGO Indocéane treatment.

Dine

While you’re sure to find German specialties like sauerbraten (wine vinegar marinated venison or beef that’s cooked until tender) and rouladen (thinly-sliced filets of beef wrapped around a mixture of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles and braised until well done), this region is mainly known for its handkäse (cheese) and apfelwein (apple wine). Whether you’re dining at an upscale restaurant or out for drinks at a local watering hole, the apple wine will likely come served in a Bembel, a large clay jug, only to be poured in a glass with ribbed diamond patterns. It’s a Hessian tradition that will turn anyone into a schoppepetzer (apple wine enthusiast)!

For an authentic apple wine experience, the Obsthof Schneider is a fruit farm dedicated to organic cultivation and produces a very high-class apple wine along with their equally decadent sparkling wines. Founded in 1965, this gorgeous farm and vineyard makes a great rustic setting to enjoy an afternoon glass of chilled apfelwein while sitting amongst some of the areas most beautiful scenery.

Lunch in Germany is no small deal, and a great spot to relax amidst breathtaking architecture while savoring inspired dishes is the Kameha Suite (www.kamehasuite.com) off the banks of the Rhine River in Frankfurt. This swanky restaurant oêrs a very cool lounge vibe that’s perfect for relaxing with a mixed cocktail or just soaking in the lush atmosphere before heading out to explore the town further.

As of this year, Germany now boasts 10 three-starred Michelin restaurants, second only to France in all of Europe, and there’s no mistaking that fine dining in the country is reaching new heights. For a star-worthy meal, head to Villa Merton (www.villa-merton.de) in Frankfurt am Main where Chef Matthias Schmidt has earned his two stars by creating an exclusive menu of regional, organic produce. His specialties include weiber spargel mit bucheckern (white asparagus with beechnuts), Gundermann, blütenzucker und leindotteröl (a  oral, sweet dish) and more

PLAY

This year marks the celebration of the 200-year anniversary of the Brother’s Grimm, the legendary authors of Children’s and Household Tales, a collection of fairy tales including Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and more. Although Jacob and Wilhelm aren’t around to partake in the festivities, their romantic folklore lives on in their fairy tale-laden hometown with regional exhibitions and tours highlighting the creative lives led by these two brothers.

The town where the Grimms spent most of their time living and working, Kassel, has become an homage to the brothers with The Exhibition Grimm in the Documenta Hall (www.expedition-grimm.de) where precious manuscripts and personal artifacts are on display for all to see. The main attraction in this magical city is the Grimm Museum (www.grimms.de) inside the Palais Bellevue which houses the most important exhibits along with the original manuscripts for the first Grimm’s fairy tales ever written, part of the UNESCO World Document Heritage of Mankind.

But the romance of this region isn’t only found in tales of princesses and folklore of fairies, there are real-life castles and palaces spread throughout the entire province, like the Johannisburg Castle in Aschaffenburg where bright red sandstone transports guests in to quixotic bygone times of the German Renaissance.

But like most seasoned travelers, the kings and Kaisers of the past didn’t come to this region to simply tour castles and view extravagance from a distance; they came to experience it and drink it all in. Known for centuries for its superb spas, the Frankfurt Rhine-Main has long attracted those in the upper class seeking a rejuvenating holiday. From the ASCARA spa at the Hotel Kempinski Falkenstein to the thermal baths at Shlangenbad, the region’s mild and pleasant climate offers a unique diversity of therapeutic baths, spa facilities and hotels offering wellness for all those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.