Staying at 25hours in the Frankfurt Bahnhofsviertel

Thoughts about the Bahnhofsviertel in Frankfurt.
21 Aug ’13 by Sara Travel

The Bahnhofsviertel in Frankfurt – roughly translated into “scary red light district full of drunk men, junkies, dealers and women turning tricks’ – used to be avoided by everyone who’s in their right mind.

I grew up in the suburbs of Frankfurt before I moved to Berlin. The city never seemed remarkable or interesting to me, but I would always remember the Bahnhofsviertel as an obnoxious place. It’s not like in Berlin, where the “bad stuff” just spreads all over the city. Here, it’s centered in a realm of 3 or 4 streets. But time has passed, and the district I used to avoid  has become a culturally evolving hub for artists, students and – ahem – “the scene”.

Bahnhofsviertelnacht

At night the streets are lit in neon pink colors to advertise the sex shops, brothels, strip clubs and bars. The backdrop is the fantastic skyline of Frankfurt. During the Bahnhofsviertelnacht – an annual festival for the district – the streets are packed with people having a good time. Mosques, ethnic restaurants, churches, brothels – everything is open and on display.

Of course, the Bahnhofsviertel being trendy now – as the only affordable area in the city center – has not been met without controversy. Gentrification is an issue in Frankfurt as well. Art students from the Städl-Schule, creatives and party-goers all mingle in the Bahnhofsviertel now.

Places and people of interest in the Bahnhofsviertel

Remarkable places of interest are  Plank, a bar in affiliation with the Robert Johnson Club in Offenbach, the Yok Yok Kiosk  – a Späti, basically, which is always on fire during the long Frankfurt nights. The Maxi Eisen is the kind of conceptual and well-executed Pastrami joint you’d expect in Berlin-Mitte rather than Frankfurt, but here it is. And there’s the 25hours by Levi’s hotel, right in the middle of it all.

This hotel of the successful lifestyle brand 25hours has a sister in Frankfurt called the “Goldmann”, and both hotels bring something fresh to Frankfurt. If you’ve ever tried to look for a stylish, affordable hotel in the city, you know how difficult it is to find a suitable alternative.

In relations to Berlin, the Bahnhofsviertel has more in common with Oranienstraße than Simon-Dach, but it’s still weird to see men and women – bankers – in suits mixed with the cool crowd. It’s also ethnically mixed, much more than in Berlin. The people I met in Frankfurt – those with Greek, Afghan, American or Persian heritage – were born and raised in Frankfurt.

They are putting their hands on their spatial identity, creating and re-creating the Bahnhofsviertel into something that belongs to them. Something perhaps nobody wanted in the past. Meanwhile, it seems to me that many leading personalities in the Berlin creative scenes are from abroad or at least moved from other parts of Germany into our capital. What gives?

Two comments

  1. i used to be at the Bahnhofviertel 2/3 times a week, but that’s nearly 10 years ago. feels like an eternaty if i now think about it. but time does not stand still, i’m getting older (and wiser) and the streets are not the same anymore.

    i always liked the way it was back then. everbody knew how to keep clean and stay alive. everyone knew where they stood and where they belonged too.

    nowadays with all the money comming in and the hard times the old crowd faces it gets more difficult and less fun.

    but then again – it all depends on how you define fun, right?

  2. I live right on Kaiserstraße now and it’s not as bad as people think. I get a lot of guys staring at my boobs and stuff – it seems people have less manners around the area. And I get sad seeing the young girls on the corners. But I think if I looked closer in London, I’d see the same. It really is becoming the “scene” in Frankfurt, maybe it’ll take over from Bornheim to be “the place to be”.