Here are two of the pictures I took during a recent trip to Cologne. Not quite the Germany of one's imagination. Actually they're taken in the Phantasialand theme park, which is the only theme park I've visited that can hold a candle to Disney in terms of the sheer fantasy and attention to detail.
I stayed at the Hotel Ling Bao - and the photo on the left shows the exterior of this (complete with a glass tree which you can see shining white - very pretty).
The interior is beautifully decorated, and rather luxurious. The rooms have bunk beds shaped like sampans for the kids, the dragon carpets are specially woven and there is a magnificently kitted out Chinese apothecary outside one of the restaurants. Unlike Disney, it's rather dignified and I'd have said very suitable for a family with slightly older children - or even a group of adults - who want a civilized weekend. I've encountered very few hotels which cater this well for families, and the interesting town of Cologne, with its fascinating Dom is not too far away. Must point out that the receptionist, Sarah Ruttscheidt, was specially helpful, and speaks good English.
The Chinese theme links with a Chinese "land" in one of the parks. Here's the inside of the shop. Once again, an attention to detail which really pleases me.
There are vast quantities of beautiful Chinese ceramics and lacquer work both in the hotel and in the park - none of it strictly necessary I suppose - they could always have just painted it. It has been done, apparently, in order to make a really good job.
The other themed hotel is Matumba, which is decorated in African style. It is more laid back, with child-size rope-bridges along the corridors; a great touch.
Phantasialand is closed in January and February, but on my visit just before Christmas, it was decked up with Christmas sparkle and had log braziers and fires everywhere. Extraordinary that none of the kids fell into them - or pushed each other into them - but perhaps people behave more sensibly in Germany!