< GERMANY | COLOGNE: Excelsior Hotel Ernst
In 1863, Carl Ernst, "Royal Restorer of the central station", built the Hotel Ernst. In 1871, after as few as eight years, he sold the Hotel Ernst to Friedrich Kracht. Friedrich Kracht moved from Belgium to Cologne to manage the hotel but he died four years later. His wife and his son Carl took over the management of the house. It did not take long to integrate the Krachts in the society of Cologne.
In 1884, the people of Cologne crowned Carl Kracht Prince Carnival. In these days, the Grand Hotel was already the first choice of prominent guests like the German Emperor
William I who observed the completion of Cologne Cathedral from his room in the Hotel Ernst.
In 1889, Carl Kracht went to Zurich where he married Emma Pauline Baur. The Swiss hotelier family Baur possessed 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 him and his sister Hermine Brinkhaus. The 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.
Between 1908 and 1910 the hotel was rapidly pulled down and reopened as five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior Hotel Ernst. Already in those days, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst was able to offer its guests every possible luxury. In an era in which running water was the exception, 100 out of 250 rooms were equipped with a bathroom.
In 1918, after the end of the war, the hotel became the headquarter 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, the Excelsior Hotel Ernst celebrated again its reopening.
During World War II, the hotel was mainly closed. After the war, the Krachts tried to reconstruct the building as soon as possible. The family never stopped to preserve the Grand Hotel of Cologne. In 1986, the hotel was extended by the circular building, Marzellenstrasse/Domprobst Ketzer Strasse. The famous interior designer Count Pilati designed the new rooms, bathrooms and all public areas.
In 2000, an exclusive health and spa area for guests was established. In 2001, the Asian restaurant Taku and, a little later, the modern Business Center were opened. In 2007, the last renovation took place. 23 new deluxe double rooms, 5 junior suites and 7 executive suites were created in the Hanse wing, costing seven million euros.
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