Checking in to the new design hotel in Germany's most westerly city
Hotel insider: Innside Aachen
I arrive on foot at the 158-room, four-star hotel, opened last year as part of the Meliá group’s sub-brand, about 20 minutes’ walk from the train station. The lobby is bright, light-filled and spacious, with an array of colourful seating and artworks, and I’m swiftly checked in at the light-wood reception desk.
As the westernmost city in Germany, near the Belgian/Dutch border, not much of Aachen’s pre-Second World War architecture remains, having been razed during the Allies’ advance. The four-star Innside reflects that modernity, in a curved, green-and-white, six-storey complex in a quiet corner of the centre. Although the scale of this relatively small spa city means it’s only a short walk to the few historic sites that did survive, such as the foreboding cathedral, the resting place of famed Medieval monarch Charlemagne.
My third-floor premium room has a leafy view of the quiet shopping street below. The overall minimalist approach employs a black-and-white palette, and good use is made of relatively limited space, with a wall-mounted television, a small circular desk with two chairs and a well-thought-out storage area furnished with a magazine shelf.
The bathroom is poky but functional – more of a compartmented alcove than a room in its own right – and in a open-minded European touch, the shower cubicle’s glass side is visible from the bed. Soft drinks in the minibar are complimentary and there’s a Nespresso machine, while the premium TV channels include Sky Atlantic. The gripes are almost as minimal as the decor: confusingly, the air-conditioning control panel doesn’t seem to feature an actual temperature, while the king-size bed has two individual duvets, which are barely a single size each, a strange quirk of many continental hotels.
It might be a cliché about the Germans, but everything is impressively organised and efficient. The waiting staff at dinner are particularly affable.
Other guests are mostly Germans on business, although the Innside’s sole dining outlet, the Uptown Sky Lounge & Restaurant, seems to attract non-hotel-guests from around the city. Aachen is also a popular medical tourism destination with Middle Eastern visitors, and I see a couple of Gulf Arab families at breakfast.
Uptown might be the only restaurant at the Innside, but it’s an excellent one, with a contemporary vibe and embellished by a delightful little rooftop terrace equipped with parasols and looking across the nearby terraced buildings and the city beyond. Dinner is à la carte, with a strong regional slant, such as my starter of bitterballen (three for €6 [Dh24]), although there’s plenty to keep less-adventurous diners happy, including the fabulously fresh flank steak (€28 [Dh112]). Even the bread is imaginatively presented, in a bowl atop a bed of stones. The breakfast buffet consists of cold cuts, cheeses, cereals, fruit and hot items, with a few welcome additions: passion-fruit juice and lactose-free milk.
The terrace at Uptown and the efficient service.
The Wi-Fi is limited to a rather miserly 100MB, although you can purchase unlimited access.
A modern, likeable base from which to explore one of Germany’s lesser-known curios.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Innside Aachen (www.melia.com) cost from €119 (Dh477) per night, including Wi-Fi, breakfast and taxes.