Expect Germanic sensibilities with a modern, confident twang in Düsseldorf, the state capital of North-Rhine Westphalia. Amid the modern architecture and Armani jackets you’ll find banking, advertising, fashion and communications businesses. Opportunities abound, but be punctual and smart. If you know some German you’ll impress your hosts, who will speak flawless English.
The Sir & Lady Astor (www.sir-astor.de; rooms £85-240) hotels brim with class, originality and charm, with check-in and some rooms furnished in Scotland-meets-Africa style, while Lady Astor across the street goes for French sumptuousness.
At Naniwa Noodles & Soups (www.naniwa.de; Ostrasse 55) the space is minimalist but the food is not. A world away from the no-nonsense beer halls and historical institutions found in more celebrated haunts, this is an understated place for a low-key business lunch.
The Altstadt is where the atmosphere is at its most raucous and the best place to try Altbier, a dark brew typical of the city. However, when the noise and clamour gets too much, head for the Salon des Amateurs on Grabbeplatz, a tunnel-shaped cafe-lounge tucked into the Kunsthalle. It's particularly fun at night when museum-goers give way to a hip, artsy crowd.
Legacy and budget carriers link business hub Düsseldorf with three London hubs – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – as well as Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Leeds-Bradford and Edinburgh. Options include Air Berlin, British Airways, easyJet, Flybe, Jet2, and Lufthansa. You should generally be looking at less than £200 for return fares, and often a lot less with the low-cost carriers that serve the route.
At Düsseldorf International Airport you have a choice of S-Bahn and regional trains to get downtown, as well as a taxi which will cost less than 20 euros.
There are few logistical hurdles to visiting Düsseldorf. Germany is one hour ahead of British time and the climate will not be markedly different. See www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de
The web of lanes making up the Aldstadt brims with charming corners and historical sights plus good shopping. Fresh from a revamp is the K20 Kunstsammelung am Grabbeplatz, the best place for a fix of modern art. For a whiff of the really new, the architecture of Medienhaffen (Media Harbour) is worth a stroll to see Düsseldorf’s answer to regeneration for the new millennium.
“Time is money, particularly in the eyes of German businessmen. First names are rarely used in German business relationships and meetings are generally always more formal than in Britain. If you make an appointment, keep to it, and be on time.”