About us

The Excelsior Hotel Ernst is Cologne’s Grand Hotel next to the Cathedral. We provide individualized services to respond to the uniqueness of every guest and employee. We maintain the tradition of hospitality and remain modern by utilizing innovation. As a Grand Hotel in the heart of Cologne, we actively participate in urban life and are committed to art and culture. Your individuality is our Excellence.

The history of the Excelsior Hotel Ernst

Carl Ernst, "Royal Restorer of the central station", was builder and owner of the Hotel Ernst in the city center. The opening ceremony took place on May 16th 1863.
In 1871, after as little as eight years, he sold the Hotel Ernst to Friedrich Kracht. Friedrich Kracht moved from Belgium to Cologne to manage the hotel but unfortunately died four years later. His wife and his son Carl took over the management of the house.  Even back then, the Grand Hotel already was the first choice of prominent guests.

In 1889, Carl Kracht went to Zurich, where he married Emma Pauline Baur. The Swiss hotelier family Baur owned both the well-known Baur au Lac and Savoy Baur en Ville in Zurich.

In 1890, one year after his wedding, his mother handed the Hotel Ernst over to Carl and his sister Hermine Brinkhaus. His siblings founded a limited company but one year later Hermine Brinkhaus withdrew from her position. Carl Kracht was now the only proprietor of Cologne’s Grand Hotel next to the Cathedral.

He and his family lived in Zurich where he managed the Baur au Lac. In 1905, he appointed Friedrich Reime director of the Hotel Ernst who continued to manage the hotel.

In order to offer the utmost comfort to guests from politics, industry and nobility, between 1908 and 1910 the hotel was rapidly pulled down and reopened as five-star Grand Hotel EXCELSIOR HOTEL ERNST. The suffix Excelsior originates in the Latin language and translates to "the very sublime / excellent". It highlights the main idea to always offer guests every luxury possible. The astonished guests were presented with something that was completely new during this era, when even running water was an exeption – 100 out of 250 rooms were equipped with private bathrooms.

In 1918, after the end of the war, the hotel became the headquarters of the British.  During this time the hotel was closed. After the troops had left in 1926, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst was renovated for the second time.

On December the 31st 1926, the five-star Excelsior Hotel Ernst celebrated its reopening - still led by Frederick Reime, who conducted until 1938. During World War II, the hotel was mainly closed. After the war, the Krachts tried to reconstruct the building under the leadership of Charles Kracht, the grandson of Carl Kracht, as soon as possible. In 1946 the hotel reopened again.

In this difficult time, the hotel was led by Max Mattheus. In March 1958 Erico Geweyer, who accompanied the house for 13 years as Managing Director, followed. In a short time during the German "economic miracle" Erico Geweyer succeeded in building a growing reputation of the house and brought back the tradition of hospitality to new prosperity.

1972, after Erico Geweyers death in March 1971, Mr Siegfried Breuning became successor. Under his leadership numerous renovation and modernization projects were executed in close collaboration with Charles Kracht. Public spaces in the reception area, the conservatory and the Piano Bar were renovated and modern conference rooms were implemented.

The restaurant Hanse Stube was extensively renovated in 1976, receiving its current popular timeless style.

In 1986, the hotel was extended by a circular building with its 29 exclusive suites, double rooms and an impressive staircase, which is crowned by a glass dome. The famous interior designer Count Pilati from Munich designed the new rooms, bathrooms and all public areas.

1991, Charles Roulet, who had returned to Germany after a successful career in the U.S., assumed Charles Kracht position in the administrative board of the hotel. Thus the great-grandson of Carl Kracht took the lead on the administrative board of the traditional house.

After the sudden death of Siegfried Breuning in November 1994, Charles Roulet took over the acting head of the hotel until Manfred Brennfleck was appointed as the new director in June 1995.

In September 2000,  an exclusive health and spa area with modern fitness equipment, a dry and steam sauna, experience showers and a relaxation room for hotel guests were established on the sixth floor.

In October 2001 the East Asian restaurant “taku” opened its doors within the hotel. Since then, exquisite dishes have been offered from the kitchens of various Eastern cultures: beginning with purist Japanese cuisine, savoury Chinese delicacies, up to the spicier variations of Thai and Vietnamese culinary delights.

In early 2002, an ultra-modern business center with all communication capabilities of our globalized world was established to respond to the needs of today's business traveler. Free internet access, comfortable workplaces and amenities of a modern office are available to guests.

Following the resignation of Manfred Brennfleck, Robert A. Schaller led interim from June 2003 to May 2004 the fortunes of the house, before Wilhelm Luxem took over the leadership of the traditional hotel.

In 2005 the cathedral side facade has been extensively restored. In 2006 the renovation of the facade of the Hanseflügel.

In 2007, 23 new deluxe double rooms, 7 junior suites and 5 executive suites were created in the Hanseflügel, costing seven million Euros. Within them modern technical equipment and traditional ambience exist in perfect balance. Simultaneously, the public rooms were equipped with modern air-conditioning.

In the fall of 2009, the renowned publisher “Busche” elected the Asian restaurant taku as “the foreign restaurant of the year” and the EXCELSIOR HOTEL ERNST as “Hotel of the Year 2010”.

In November 2011, the restaurant taku was awarded with its first Michelin Star for its authentic East Asian cuisine.

In November 2012 Henning Matthiesen took over the management of the grand hotel. With great sensitivity and a gentle hand, he implemented some important modernizations:

The conversion of the entire hotel lobby into an “inviting living room” completed his first successful year.

In 2015, the 29 Grand Deluxe rooms and a suite in the rotunda were extensively renovated. The rooms, which are spread over six floors, impress with the highest level of comfort, pleasant colors and 
technical innovations that are discreetly integrated into the spatial structure.

In only six months of intensive construction work, the Marzellen wing was completely renovated in November 2017. With thirteen completely refurbished rooms and suites, which are spread over five floors, and a new event room equipped with the latest conference technology, the Cologne Grand Hotel has once again impressed with the highest quality.

Georg Plesser has been managing the Excelsior Hotel Ernst as Managing Director since January 2020, with the aim of continuing to set new trends under the motto "Tradition & Innovation"