The Christmas Market in Cologne has opned its doors– or huts – last week. And already the scent of cinnamon, vanilla and cloves moves through the air. The beautiful flair of the market on cathedral square draws in visitors from all over the world and onespeciality visitors must not miss is the Excelsior Christstollen, available from the market’s only hotel stand. In the gloriously decorated wooden hut, within view of Cologne’s biggest Christmas tree, you can have a taste of this traditional delicacy.

For generations, the recipe has been kept in a safe at Hotel Excelsior. And then, in the middle of October, hotel director Matthiesen will take it out and handit over to the hotel’s patissier. Only the best ingredients will be good enough for this traditional pastry. Marzipan from the best Mediterranean almonds, flavoured with rum, a yeast dough with raisins, candied fruit and almonds and lots and lots of German butter, as well as a secret spice mixture, make this Excelsior Stollen a special treat.

In order to taste the very first stollen of the year, the hotel’s owner, Charles Roulet, travels to Cologne and personally gives instructions for the stollen to be produced. For each stollen sold, Excelsior Hotel Ernst pledges one Euro to a charity for a children’s oncological hospital.

But there’s more. For those with a sweet tooth, try some home-made creations with cherry jam, flavoured with vanilla and amaretto, or the orange jam with chili and ginger – a creation by Michelin-star restaurant taku. And the specially produced Cathredral Honey is guaranteed to make your heart skip a beat. You can also get all sorts of Christmas treats for your loved ones, such as vouchers for a very special Afternoon Tea inspired by Pierre Hermé.

For more information onExcelsior Hotel Ernst visitwww.excelsiorhotelerst.com