It is likely that no one has ever whispered, in the manner ofBergman to Bogie, "We will always have Frankfurt." The city on the Main River is the financial center of Germany and the birthplace of Goethe, but it is infamously stodgy and bourgeois. So when Villa Kennedy opened last year on the Main's south bank, Frankfurt received a muchneeded infusion of pizzazz.
Chic, sleek, and loaded with sex appeal, Villa Kennedy is more reminiscent of London than Frankfurt, which stands to reason considering that its creator, Sir Rocco Forte, is British. For Forte, a flamboyant 61-year-old triathlete and former actor, the Frankfurt property is the latest in his namesake company's growing arsenal of hotels (currently 11) across Europe. Each of Forte's properties has a distinct character, but at Villa Kennedy (so named because President Kennedy's motorcade once rolled down the hotel's street, which later was rechristened Kennedyallee) he plays off of expectations.
Set within a massive, neoclassic mansion with crenellated stone walls and towers and turrets, Villa KeI111edy appears from the outside to be a bastion . of bargerlich convention and propriety. Once inside, however, the mood changes from 19th-century staid to 21st-century sophisticated. Plunp easy chairs and sofas in hues of plum and charcoal line the hotel's minimalist lobby and corridors. The monochrome patterns give way to multicolored stripes and hot pink spots in JFK's, the hotel's bar and lounge, where 80 euros buy you a martini made with Louis XIII Cognac and 40-year-old port.
Forte's fashion consciousness reaches critical mass in the guest rooms, most notably in the 3,500- square-foot Georg Speyer Suite. You enter the suite on a limestone floor and proceed down a hall appointed with stone urn lamps, a mobile pendant light by Paul Verburg, abstract art by Peregrina, and a 1940s wardrobe. In the living room, you fmd sofas by Martin Brudnizki, a Bechstein grand piano, a wall light by Serge Mouille, and a 1960s black slate and oak coffee table.
Ultimately, of course, the success of Sir Rooco's hotel is based not on how many designer work;~ he can cram into the space, but rather on the clientele Villa Kennedy attracts. It is too soon to gauge whether the hotel will be a smash among Frankfurt's beautiful people. However, as the crowd at the bar during a recent visit indicated, they do at least exist.
Villa Kennedy, +49.69.717.120, 888.667.9477, www.roccofortecollection.com
Near the restaurants, bars, museums, and shops of the Sachsenhausen residential
area, off the Main River's south bank.
The hotel describes the contemporary yet comfortable interiors of its 134 rooms and 29 suites as "rninimalist deluxe."
Nine meeting rooms and the Konrad Adenauer Ballroom, which accommodates as many as 270 people. The hotel's spa includes an indoor pool, a Turkish steam room, a yoga and Pilates studio, a gym, and eight treatment rooms.
The hotel's restaurant, Gusto, is a handsome study in gray monochrome banquettes and columns lit by modernistic wall sconces. Chef Dario Cammarata and the cuisine are Italian, and the attire is smart casual.
Visit Schloss Johannisburg in the nearby Rheingau wine region for a private Riesling tasting in the estate's historic cellar, which contains casks dating to the 18th century.
From $730 for a standard room to $5,990 for the Georg Speyer Suite.