The final stop of my German run, this hotel is the first Tribute Portfolio hotel I’ve ever stayed in. While it didn’t take my breath away, the property ranks pretty high on design, and is good value for money especially for solo travellers.
What are Tribute Portfolio Hotels?
A network of about 50 individual boutique hotels, this soft brand (as the industry calls it) is a collection of independent boutique hotels that each has its own unique styles and operating models. The Tribute Portfolio brand embraces quirky and personable properties for guests seeking unique and diverse experiences, which can be a breather for some who wish to experience smaller, quirkier hotels when they want something different that the larger chains offer.
Tribute Portfolio was first introduced by Starwood Hotels and Resorts back in 2015, and it’s kind of an answer to Marriott’s very own Autograph Collection, also another mid-tier collection of boutique hotels.
Naturally, when Marriott acquired Starwood, the mammoth group took over these properties as well in the following years. Some observers may have gambled on that Tribute Portfolio will be folded into Autograph Collection, but even up to today Marriott held true to its promise that it will keep the two separate.
Marriott has a distinct brand positioning for both soft brands: Autograph Collection Hotels are selected for their rich design and immersive stories; while Tribute Portfolio brings together characterful hotels with vibrant social scenes that create a sense of belonging for guests and locals.
Today, the portfolio remained fairly small with only about 50 boutique hotels globally, with most of them found mainly in Europe where it first began.
About the hotel
The Gekko House opened only in January 2020 – right before Covid-19 ravished the world – as part of Germany’s Gekko Group, a hospitality outfit (not to be confused with Accor’s french subsidiary Gekko Group).
Gekko House is the group’s first house branded hotel. Gekko Group’s founders, Micky Rosen and Alex Urseanu, are veterans to design-led hotels, with a portfolio that includes celebrated properties like Roomers, The Pure and Gerbermühle, with a total of eight properties across Germany. The Roomers hotels in Berlin, Munich and Baden-Baden, are also Design Hotels (also a Marriott brand).
The hotel stands at 8 storeys high and comprises 128 rooms, which is fairly sizeable given the small plot of land it occupies.
The ground floor is taken up mainly by the restaurant (more on that later), while rooms decked out floors 1 through 7. The rooftop is on the eighth floor, and serves as a rooftop bar only during summer months, although you can still access it year-round.
The hotel offers seven room types:
- Superior Comfort
- Premium Comfort
- Premium Comfort Twin
- Select King
- Junior Suite
The key difference between Superior and Premium rooms are the size of the beds: Superior rooms offer a 160cm wide Queen bed, while Premium rooms come with a 180cm wide King sized bed.
If you want twin beds, your only option is the Premium Comfort Twin, which cost about €30 more expensive than the base rooms.
If you need some fresh air in your room, the Select rooms are the only ones in the house with a balcony.
At the top end of the range is the Junior Suite, which is the only room type in the hotel that offers a bathtub. However, the industrial-looking tub is in the room itself right under the TV, so depending on your personal preference, you might want to choose another hotel if the tub matters a lot.
The hotel is located in the Gallus district in Frankfurt Am Main. While somewhat near to Frankfurt Hauptbanhof, but it’s not exactly that near: two trams stops or 800m away to be exact.
Don’t let the map fool you – while it seems like it’s somewhat near the tracks and main station, the walking distance from the entrance of the station is a good 15 minutes to the hotel, or longer depending on the amount of bags you have.
Take trams 11, 14 and 21 from stops right outside the main station for two stops, and you will only be a short walk away from the hotel. Even with a single trip ticket, you are allowed a free transfer from the trains to the trams.
Once you walk into the hotel, you will be greeted by the restaurant. The cash desk at the restaurant currently doubles up as the lobby, where all check in formalities are currently being done.
With the current Covid-19 restrictions in place, Germany imposes a 2G+ requirement for hotels. Guests who are staying for leisure are required to show proof of vaccination, plus either a booster or a valid ART test taken within the last 24 hours.
Previously, check in was supposed to be done at a separate lobby which is pocket-sized, decked out with cherry wood panelling and tapestries astride deep olive walls.
For this stay I have opted for the entry-level room – the Superior room with a queen-sized bed. Once you enter the 17 square metres room, while compact, you won’t feel claustrophobic at all; the room is rather minimalist but yet sufficient for a single person.
The room controls are activated by a master key near the door, you will need to insert your keycard into the holder before any of the electricals can work.
Unfortunately the reverse is also true: the moment you take out your keycard, everything in the room goes dark. I would prefer if they had some kind of a lag of a couple of seconds before that happens.
The rooms at Gekko House are designed in a grunge industrial fashion with exposed concrete walls and ceilings, in a nod to the area’s industrial character. There are whimsical touches to the room, such as the large hand-blown glass bulb lamp, representing the area’s burgeoning creative vibes.
The queen bed is backed on a velvet bedframe, a porcelain stool on one side and a wooden stool on the other side, both doubling up as beside tables. There are also wall sockets on both sides of the bed, providing that touch of convenience that is not lost despite it being a minimalist design.
There is also a small cupboard by the side, which houses a small safe within, as well as a nespresso coffee machine atop along with several glassware.
Facing the bed was a wall-mounted television, with a wall-mounted television console as well as a Marshall speaker, which I appreciate for a tinkle of late night music when I wind down.
The bathroom is pretty simple in its design and function as well. Standard sized standing shower, single vanity and a toilet bowl take up most of the room in the bathroom. The sink has an extended area for your own stuff, and if you need more, feel free to place them on the ledge on top.
Gekko House uses Grown Alchemist amenities – surprise, surprise: from Australia! – in the bathrooms. Founded by Australian brothers Keston and Jeremy Muijs in 2008, the Melbourne-based beauty brand is a skincare line that focuses on sustainable and organic ingredients.
The hotel uses handpump bottles fixed to the wall, so as to reduce single-use amenities that tend to get thrown away each time the room is refreshed.
Note that the hotel does not provide any other bath amenities, including dental kits or shaving kits. If you need any of those, you will have to purchase them from the Spati on the ground floor (more on this later).
You might notice that there isn’t a mini-bar in the room, nor are there additional amenities such as toothbrush or combs in the room. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is the hotel’s ethos: by reducing these items in the room, they can keep rates low as well, and anything you need can be bought from vending machines which they lovingly call “Spati” at the lobby.
Prices at the Spati is by no means cheap. Forgot your dental kit? That’s €3. If you like the Grown Alchemist amenities and want to bring home a pump bottle, that’s €25 each.
Need some bottled water in the room? That’s €3,50 each. Beers at €4, and if you are in a mood for some bubblies, a 20cl bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial goes for a cool €22.
At these prices, you are better off picking up some of these items at the local supermarket.
There’s a small tablet that is tucked away on the lower shelf of the TV console, which serves as your handy guide to the hotel. You will find information about the hotel, including a list of the items and prices at the Spati.
Gekko House is kind of a bare bones hotel, with no facilities on site.
Apart from the Spati that serves as a self-service convenience corner at the hotel, there are only a small handful of common areas within the hotel for use.
The first is this small little corner near the front of the hotel, which can also be a waiting area if there’s a line for check in.
There is also a rooftop accessible via the lifts. On the warmer months this serve as a rooftop bar, but since I visited in winter, there was nothing going on at the moment.
Restaurant – Chicago Williams
The signature bar and restaurant, Chicago Williams, is located at the first floor of the hotel, and is also the centrepiece of the property.
Specialising in American barbecue, Chicago Williams offers a rather simple menu where you can order grilled meats mostly by weight, except chicken where it comes either in half or full bird.
The full menu is below:
Drinks wise, the restaurant specialises in highballs, with a selection of either standard or premium highballs to choose from. My observation is that mixed drinks in Germany tend to be relatively more expensive than beer (of course) and wine.
The experience starts when you first step into the restaurant. Right at the front of house is a huge pot of corn chowder, and the staff will scoop out a complimentary bowl serve it to you as they bring you to your table.
I ordered a half chicken and cauliflower, as well as mac and cheese on the side. I got a glass of rose along with the meal, which turned out to be a pretty good choice.
The cauliflower blew my mind a little, as I wasn’t expecting to be so flavourful. The cauliflower is both smoked and sauteed, dressed with parsley pesto and walnut oil before being topped with some spring onions.
As I wasn’t a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member, my room didn’t come with a complimentary breakfast. Breakfast can be added for €19 per person per day, so I didn’t book breakfast.
Breakfast Hours –
Mondays to Fridays: 6.30am to 10.30am
Saturdays & Sundays: 6.30am to 12pm
However, the hotel is happy to provide complimentary coffee if you head down to ask. Coffee is dispensed from a one-touch machine.
When I was collecting coffee one morning, I managed to snap a few photos of the breakfast offering. It seemed to be a continental offering, with no hot food in sight.
Gekko House may be styled as a Tribute Portfolio independently-managed hotel with some character, but in reality it probably felt more like an upscale ‘hostel’ with individual rooms. The lack of amenities can be bothersome, but if you are on a leisure stay you really shouldn’t be staying in the hotel all that much.
While the lack of in-room amenities may bother some people, I’m pretty cool with it: I’m all for providing less in the room, and for guests to either bring their own or request (or even buy) one only if it’s necessary.
I initially thought I wouldn’t enjoy the hotel, but I soon realised it was sufficient for a solo traveller, with a good price point at well under €100 per night. The restaurant serves a great American barbecue dinner, but I’d advise against buying breakfast there, as you can get way better value for €19.