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Shopping in Cologne

Shopping in Cologne covers pretty much all bases: you’ll find all the main chains here, both international and German, plus a sense of history and remembrance and then a sharp eye that’s looking towards the future. Design, innovation and character are prized possessions in Cologne - and the boutique shops reflect that. The city also has a passion for open air markets – something that only intensifies in the run up to Christmas. The abundant distribution of coffee shops and Brauhäuser also helps to relieve any potential shopping fatigue.

Key areas

Most of central Cologne's shops are between Rudolfplatz and the Dom. Rudolfplatz, Mittelstraße, Ehrenstraße, Pfeilstraße and Benesisstraße are home to smart clothes, jewellery, home furnishings and antique boutiques. Ehrenstraße leads into Breite Straße, another smart if not so exclusive street, as it heads back towards the Dom. The main shopping street is Schildergasse which runs parallel to Breite Straße, and leads on from Mittelstraße via Neumarkt, Hohe Straße and back to the Dom.

Markets

The most dazzling markets in Cologne have to be the Christmas Markets that start sprouting up, drenched in lights, Glühwein and festive cheer each year. Christmas markets include the Alter Markt in the Old Town, the Cathedral Markt, the Märchenweihnachtsmarkt or fairy tale Christmas market on Rudolfplatz and the "alternative" market that stocks Moroccan moccasins at Stadtgarten.

If you're not in town at Christmas time, though, you can still find outdoor markets to keep you busy. Flea markets regularly sprout up at Alter Markt, while fresh food and veg stalls line Wilhelmsplatz from Mon-Sat.

Shopping centres

Shopping centres with more than 100 shops are Köln Arcaden and Rhein-Center Weiden.

Neumarkt itself is a smart shopping centre based around the Neumarkt Galerie mall. Cologne's pedestrianised Schildergasse is one of Germany's busiest shopping streets lined with national and international brand outlets. Look out for Renzo Piano's stunning glass flagship building for the Peek & Cloppenburg clothing department store.

Galeria Kaufhof (Cologne's best general department store alongside Karstadt, on Breite Straße) is located in Hohe Straße, a popular shopping street, which hosts several fashion, multimeda, shoe, cosmetics and jewellery stores.

Opening hours

Shops on Schildergasse and Hohe Straße are open Monday to Saturday 1000-2000; elsewhere 1000-1800 is the norm.

Souvenirs

Cologne's most famous product is Kölner Wasser (Eau de Cologne) with two shops worth noting. The Dufthaus 4711-Haus at Glockengasse 4711 is where you’ll find the fluid that spread the fame of the city across the world. Eau de Cologne was once the secret of a Carthusian monk before he gave the recipe away as a wedding present back in 1792. The newlyweds took this healing tonic, bottled it and sold it. When the French arrived in 1796, they renumbered the houses to strive for a sense of order. The Eau de Cologne shop was designated 4711 and a global brand was born. Today, you can stock up on both history and the pungent smell in the original shop and even drink from the fountain itself.

Germany is one of the world's leading processors of cocoa beans, a fact reflected in the mind-boggling array of top-quality chocolates in the shop of the Imhoff Stollwerck Chocolate Museum.

Tax information

Refunds are available for those who reside outside the EU, although the rules can be complicated. For help, visit: www.globalblue.com/destinations/germany/cologne/.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Hyatt Regency Cologne

If you're looking for luxury and arresting views, Hyatt Regency Cologne fits the bill perfectly. The spacious, well-appointed rooms look out onto the Rhine and towards looming towers of the Dom. It also has an indoor pool, fitness club and spa, and a restaurant housed in a panoramic glass atrium.

Grand Hotel Schloss Bensberg

Visitors are easily dazzled by the Grand Hotel Schloss Bensberg. Housed in a renovated baroque palace, each of the 120 rooms and suites maintains a sense of grandeur while supplying all the mod cons. Look out for the midnight blue ceiling above the swimming pool and spa. It's a way out of town but the payoff for that is the easy access to horse riding and golf.

Centro Hotel Conti

Rooms at this cheerful hotel in the Belgian quarter are on the basic side, with a bed, small cupboard and small TV. The decor is no-frills as well, but it is good value and sits above a great Thai restaurant. It is also close to other restaurants and shops and has its own car park.

Hotel Engelbertz

A family-run hotel in the centre of Cologne, the Engelbertz has clean rooms, each equipped with a satellite TV. But do come prepared for some noise after dark as revellers stumble home outside.

Hilton Cologne

Set in a quiet side street by the cathedral, this smart, sophisticated hotel has all the quality you'd expect from a large chain. Its trendy IceBAR, which serves its signature shot in a glass made of ice, and onsite Konrad restaurant are popular meeting places for locals.

Hopper Hotel St Antonius

This very reasonably-priced design hotel is housed in a historic journeyman's hostel and set within walking distance from the main railway station and the banks of the Rhine. It comes complete with an excellent restaurant, original modern artworks and one of Cologne's most popular private theatres.