Germany was never a top-of-mind destination personally. Despite having a good time in Berlin some years back, spending an extended period of time in the land of good beers and Christmas markets in the heart of winter wasn’t exactly my idea of fun.
So how did I ended up spending close to three weeks in Germany? This trip was fraught with many twists and turns. Originally meant to be a part-Italy and part-Germany trip, the entire plan was thrown out of the window when Italy closed its doors to travellers planning to land directly from Singapore.
There were some workaround ways possible, such as landing in a third country in EU and then travelling into Italy, but that proved too risky, so we decided to stay put in Germany fully.
Even a full two weeks in Germany was not as easy as it seemed. Germany, like many other countries, have both federal and state governments, both of them responsible for different set of Covid-19 rules. One of the cities we were intending to visit, Dresden, was in the state of Saxony, which banned any form of tourism in late 2021. We only found out about this when the hotel wrote to us a week before the trip, asking that we cancel the reservation if we were planning to visit for holidays.
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof. At this stage, it was clear to me that I was faitgued with trip planning, and all I’m reading was yet another set of (complicated) regulations.
Needless to say, Saxony was off the books, and once again, we are back to the drawing board.
Eventually, we landed on a (almost) round Germany trip, kicking off with Cologne, before spending the second week in Bavaria down south, with the last couple of days back in Frankfurt.
Right from the onset, the intent was to burn the long-accumulated miles on flights. After all, availability was aplenty, wasn’t it?
Alas, the availability wasn’t as plenty as one would thought. Getting out of Singapore was easy; coming back on a VTL flight was like searching for a needle in a haystack. With the last-minute change in plans, the search became frantic: I ended up looking in another direction, and landed myself a seat on Finnair, via Helsinki.
Not a bad thing, I thought, given that I have not tried the Finnair product before.
|Singapore Airlines B777-300ER, Business Class, Singapore – Frankfurt|
|Finnair A320, Business Class, Frankfurt – Helsinki|
|Finnair A350-900, Business Class, Helsinki – Singapore|
What happened to my return leg on Singapore Airlines then? This was one helluva excursion to Singapore Airlines “world-class” service centre at Ion Orchard. Because of the change in plans, I personally spent about three mornings at Singapore Airlines’ service centre to get my tickets amended.
While Singapore Airlines offers unlimited free change for tickets to entice people to book with them, the change experience was far from ideal. Reports from the ground was a three-hour wait time for its customer service hotline, while the queue time at the Ion service centre was not any better: anything between 4-6 hours. What complicated matter was the suspension of VTL flight tickets announced on 22 Dec for a month, leading to a surge in last-minute bookings and change request.
Five star for branding, zero for customer service.
A two-week journey means countless hotels. You will notice most of these hotels are Marriott properties, this is mostly planned to chalk up as many nights as possible in the new membership year in my pursuit for Platinum.
The hotels we chose for this trip will be a mix of budget-friendly and mid-tier hotels, with nothing too outrageous given the travel budget constraints of the group.
While it’s always fun to review awesome hotels, the intent is also to build and provide a little more insights to hotel options that are great value for money for those who may be starved of points and need to pay cash for accommodation.
|Moxy Hotel Frankfurt Airport|
|Courtyard by Marriot Cologne|
|Sheraton Carlton Hotel Nuremberg|
|Hilton, Frankfurt Airport|
|Gekko House, Frankfurt|
Moxy Hotel, Frankfurt Airport
Moxy Hotel is Marriott’s relatively new, budget-friendly hotel brand, with over 60 properties across North America, Europe and Asia. The hotel has come upfront to say that its rooms are tiny, but all properties also include social spaces, clearly targeting the younger travel crowd who may be budget conscious. Moxy has a cheeky vibe to it, so it will be interesting to see what the hotel can offer beyond a room.
Courtyard by Marriott, Cologne
To be completely honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this property at all. This is your typically business hotel, catered for your one-night business travellers, so that also means no-frills, no-personality. In short, Courtyard doesn’t scream anything at all, so spending four nights at this property wasn’t exactly going to appeal.
But what gives? Location and price. It was in the Old Town, minutes away from the epicentre of where the attractions are, and incredibly affordable. So four nights, here we go.
Sheraton Carlton Hotel Nuremberg
Nuremberg was meant to be a pit stop to fill up some time before we head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where we had a confirmed, unchangeable hotel reservation for three nights.
This also means the hotel here is purely perfunctory, which means location and price are both prized above everything else.
While the Sheraton brand is arguably strong in Asia with its luxe touches and premier hospitality, the same can’t be said of its counterparts in other parts of the world. How will this stay pan out? We shall see.
Aloft needs no introduction; with a tagline “A Vision of W”, you will know it’s kind of like a lesser cousin to that flashy boy who’s everyone’s favourite.
Aloft is a select-service brand, and the Munich branch is excellently located: right across from the Munich Hauptbahnhof station. This makes the property a hot favourite for those who values location over everything else; there’s a direct train line to the airport, Marienplatz is just two S-Bahn stops away and if you are looking to do day trips, they all depart from near here.
The best part? The hotel was offering a deal, so this only went at slightly under €100 per room, per night.
Hilton, Frankfurt Airport
Having stayed at Moxy the first time round, we decided that we should try a property that’s at least located within walking distance from the airport itself, and settled on the Hilton Frankfurt Airport.
The hotel is located atop the long distance train station, within The Squaire mall right across the skywalk (bridge) from Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1.
As a diamond member, there were also some perks that came pretty convenient even as I book entry level rooms, such as free breakfast even for the second room I booked.
The Gekko House, Frankfurt
This Tribute Portfolio property was the second Frankfurt hotel I chose to stay in, when I had a couple of last days alone in Frankfurt. Travelling alone at this stage also means twice the price for hotel stays, so I looked at value-for-money options without breaking the bank and Gekko House came up.
Looks fun, so here we go.
Bonus: Reindl Partenkirchen Hof
Reindl Partenkirchen Hof is a family-run inn in the ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The hotel is decked out in classic Bavarian traditional fittings, so it’s probably the closest you will get to a historic feel of what a Bavarian house feels like.
Let the humble look of the place fool you not, this place often books out way in advance and also requires a multiple-night stay during the peak ski season. We had a chance at a booking, so let’s see how this turns out.
Covid-19 test requirements
All travellers to Germany over the age of 6 must be fully vaccinated to qualify for quarantine-free travel. Germany also does not require any pre-departure tests nor on-arrival tests for fully vaccinated travellers.
However, rules within each German state may vary. All establishments within the country largely operate under one of these three rules:
- 3G: vaccinated (German: geimpft), recovered (genesen) or tested (getestet)
- 2G: vaccinated or recovered
- 2G+: 2G, plus either a booster or a valid current test
Depending on the state you are in, most establishments currently (February 2022) have a 2G+ requirement before you may enter, including restaurants, bars, and even leisure stays in hotels.
However, Germany is set to further relax restrictions in March, with restaurants and bars becoming 3G on 4 Mar, and subsequently dropping all restrictions from 20 Mar.
Regardless, as with all travel, research before you go.
Returning to Singapore, VTL travellers will now only require a pre-departure ART test taken within 2 days of departure day, as well as a supervised ART at an approved test location within 24 hours of arrival into Singapore.
Germany has many free rapid test centres around in the city, and the results will be sent to you via email within 30 minutes of your test. These tests are valid for travel to Singapore, as long as there’s a corresponding identifier such as your passport number or date of birth on the test results along with your name.
This trip is the first extended holiday I’ll be taking. While the itinerary as far as flights and hotels are concerned are not as fancy as I would want it to be, but this is probably a more realistic itinerary and choice for the average traveller, so it will provide a good perspective on mid-tier and budget-friendly options you might consider.
The actual reviews will come in a while, so this page will be updated as and when the reviews are completed.