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Part of Germany's grand "Meetropolis"


A long weekend in Düsseldorf proved the wealthy city on the Rhine, a lovely combo of old world charm and 21st century style, offers a wellspring of easily accessible cultural sites.

"Home to 312,000 companies and 11 million people, our German lifestyle metropolis is number one for convenience," says Andrea Baule, head of business travel for Dusseldorf Marketing and Tourism. Indeed, all venues are within walking distance or a quick cab ride from an excellent airport and 223 hotels, including one of Europe's grandest.

Düsseldorfers love their rep for having fun after business is wrapped. Party HQ is "the world's longest bar"—actually 260 bars in Altstadt, or Old Town. We quaffed local Altbier fresh from bar-breweries like Brauerei zum Schiffchen, a stained-glass pub where Napoleon celebrated his Rhine victory. Groups can book the large Hausbrauerei zum Schlussel (Brewery of the Key)—named in 1850 when city keys were stowed at the main pub. We saw, smelled and tasted the brewing process from malted barley to wooden kegs, then retired to one of the four private rooms for "Alt," schnitzel and, for the brave, black pudding.

Aside from all the beer gardens, Baule reminded us: "Düsseldorf is ranked top for quality of life in Germany, with true international flair." The real action is divided among the stylin' Konigsallee, Germany's high fashion district, and the MediaHarbour, an event-space wonderland where old harbor warehouses rub shoulders with po-mo architecture. Do see the three iconic Gehry buildings arranged in waves, and watch for the new Hyatt opening in December. Not much schnitzel and wurst in this 'hood, so try the foie gras macaroons (and the rest of the elegant fare) at Behrens Am Kai. Coolest nearby site? A 1,500-pax dance temple known as 3001 Club.

DüsseldorfCongress just earned a Green Globe Certificate for sustainable practices. What's more, a recent pairing with Cologne, Düsseldorf's sister city on the Rhine, earned a punchy slogan: The Meetropolis.

The region's largest hotel is the 530-room Maritim Hotel, where Dirk Jordens, marketing manager at Düsseldorf International Airport, is a fan. Connected to the airport-terminal building by a walking bridge, the busy Maritim offers diverse facilities.

Meanwhile the airport itself, is a five-minute taxi ride from the trade fairgrounds and 15 from Old Town, where trade and fashion shows take place. "You can walk from here to gate check-in in two minutes," brags Jordens, citing 24 event rooms and the dramatic Station Airport in the attached rail station. "What's more, we've got jazz concerts in the hangars, and families shop here on Sundays, when town is closed." Low-fare prizewinner Air Berlin has its main international hub here. Popular with out-bounders to New York, Miami and San Francisco, they're lately building their American clientele via quick connections to cities all over Europe.

Thanks to legislation and the national green mood, salmon have returned to spawn in Europe's busiest waterway. People seeking serenity time should definitely take a KD Rhine cruise. The suburban hills across the river are dotted with sheep that seem artfully arranged to make us fall for Düsseldorf. Tours range from thirty minutes to 3 hours for the ride to Cologne and back.

Dusseldorf's museums are justly known, especially the contemporary K21 and the just reopened K20. Do check out KIT (Kunst Im Tunnel), a cool art space in an old, unused tunnel (and former nightclub) along the Rhine.

The 95-room Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel on the Ko, might have spoiled our group for life. The old playground of international royalty, twice rebuilt since World War II, combines personal concierge service with tech amenities like flat-screens built into bathroom mirrors. Nineteen duplex and penthouse apartments are available, and three Salons with capacity up to 65. And the beautiful Brasserie 1806 accommodates 16 for private dining.

Alexis Quinlan

Summer, 2010

Reprinted with permission of Prevue/prevueonline.net (edited version). To read the original article visit http://www.prevueonline.net/blog/themes/culture/berlin-dusseldorf.