Dusseldorf, Germany, is home to one of the most outrageous celebrations in all of Europe: Rosenmontagszug, or Rose Monday Parade, held two days before Ash Wednesday.
Think: 60-plus outrageously decorated floats, countless walking groups and marching bands and scores of costumed partiers lining the streets, crowding bars and restaurants, on balconies and rooftops, all shouting "Helau" (the local greeting) in hopes of catching candy thrown from the floats. Many of the floats are politically charged, with satire and mockery a constant throughout the procession.
I was invited to participate in this year's parade. Initially a bit overwhelming, the idea of being on a float — dressed as a Champagne bottle, tossing handfuls of candy at carnival-goers all while waving and smiling and reveling in the excitement — quickly grew on me. After the first block, I was sold and ready for the next five hours.
The whole city of Dusseldorf turns into a giant party during the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. This begs the question: How close does one really want to be to the action? For visitors looking to be right in the middle of the raucously good time, the Breidenbacher Hof is a great choice.
Located on the famed Konigsallee cobblestone shopping boulevard in downtown Dusseldorf, the Breidenbacher Hof exudes modern elegance, while remaining an iconic German hotel. Having opened in 1812, this hotel has undergone several major renovations and changes in ownership. That said, its architecture and design pay homage to the classical styles of European grand hotels and maintain its sophisticated, stylish atmosphere.
"The Breidenbacher Hof is designed as a luxury living concept," said Linda Stephan, the marketing coordinator at the Breidenbacher Hof. "Within the building of the hotel, everything from shopping to dining to wellness or medical care are all offered. The hotel hosts two private medical clinics which are specialized in preventative medical care and aesthetic procedures."
In 2014, the hotel added its ninth floor, the Royal Floor. With 11 connectable units consisting of five suites and six rooms, the unveiling of the Royal Floor presented a new room category: the Grand Deluxe rooms designed for long-stay guests with a floor space of about 700 square feet.
Breidenbacher Hof's 106 guestrooms provide a wide range of state-of-the-art amenities that include a central electronics control accessible from the bed. Each room offers a contemporary, tasteful design that's specifically fashioned to amplify the natural light. Earthy green, yellow and purple tones give the rooms a regal, modern feel.
The hotel also offers a cigar lounge with walk in humidor and a selection of 124 cigars; a spa with a swimming pool, fitness area, sauna and steam bath; traditional afternoon tea in the lobby lounge; Brasserie 1806 for gourmet dining; and 24-hour room service.
Next Rosenmontagszug, choose the best of both worlds: opulent accommodations along with the elation of experiencing the epic Dusseldorf celebration.
Rates for the Breidenbacher Hof start at about $350 per night. Visit www.capellahotels.com/dusseldorf