“Munich is a village… with a population of 1.5m people.” The driver who whisked us from the airport to the smart (yet fantastically eccentric) Hotel Bayerische Hof hit das nail right on der kopf with that one. Over here, parks, walkways, charming scenery. Over there, the jaw-dropping spectacle of the Bayern Munich football stadium. And over there further again, the impressive architecture of the medieval cathedral, just there, the ultra modern – but sympathetically built – shopping mall…
And then there’s the Bayerische Hof itself. Family-owned and run, it’s a wonderfully eclectic place. From the outside, it shouts five-star hotel. The lobby features enough marble to recreate a Grecian temple, possibly two. Smart, elegant staff assist smart elegant guests and the occasional jeans-wearing, baggy visiting journalist, switching effortlessly between German and assorted other languages. And then you start to explore its Tardis-like interior and realise that, for all its elegant frontage, this is a hotel that knows when to be serious and when to be fun.
Food and drink
And by fun, I mean fun. After all, where else would you find a Trader Vic’s – with its famed body-numbing Tiki cocktails – and a three (ish) Michelin-starred restaurant in the same building? Not to mention a handful of other excellent restaurants, including a bierkeller, offering local beers in tankards the size of your head, as well as sausages, cheese, and other traditional drinking food. Well, it is Munich, it’s probably the law…
At the time of this visit, that restaurant – Atelier – was out of action. The chef had moved on, the star count had been reduced as is Michelin’s bent, and they’d just recruited a new chef, Anton Gschwendtner, who’d worked there previously under Jan Hartwig and gone off to earn his own stars elsewhere, including two at Stuttgart’s Olivo. Although it is on a summer break until 13 September, Atelier has since reopened and… well, I can’t comment. It’s a small space, they had a huge backlog of bookings and I haven’t secured one yet. But the small snacks prepared by Gschwendtner during my visit, as a little hint of what he’s planning, were simply impeccable and suggest Atelier will reclaim that third star very, very swiftly.
Rooms vary in style depending on which part of the hotel you’re in. There have been some clever, sympathetic expansions over the years that have left the façade intact but brought everything into the 21st century. My room in one of the newer parts is spacious, comfortable, quiet, luxurious. I sleep very soundly although that could also be down to a night anaesthetising myself Tiki-fashion at Trader Vic’s and another attempting to consume my bodyweight in sausages. For the record, I failed, but I gave it a damned good try.
Facilities are, of course, what you’d expect from a hotel of this ilk. But the overriding memory of Bayerische Hof is personality. It rivals anywhere corporate in terms of the offer, slickness and professionalism, and, if that’s what you seek – and many do – you’ll have a restful, pampered stay. Dig a little deeper though and it’s all underscored with a good natured sense of fun you don’t expect in, well, a hotel of this standing or, well, if you’ll excuse the potential racism, Germany.
Things to do
Munich is probably compact enough to make any hotel location a perfect base to explore the city. But this close to the older parts of town and just a few minutes from museums such as Pinakothek der Moderne and the city’s best shopping? Bayerische Hof’s postcode will tick a lot of visitor’s boxes.
There are bars, cafes and restaurants aplenty in easy reach too, should you have already explored the hotel’s own extensive options. There’s also, curiously, an unofficial Michael Jackson memorial in the small park opposite the hotel where local fans have taped sketches to the plinth of a statue of Orlande de Lassus, a Renaissance composer. It’s not entirely popular with locals – I’m told that some scatter bird seed around it to encourage its pigeon-based destruction – but a team of dedicated local fans appear regularly to tend the flowers and clean the display.
The old, the new, the eccentric, the established… there’s a pattern emerging here, isn’t there? A charming hotel for a charming city.
Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Promenadeplatz 2-6 D-80333, Munich, Germany; bayerischerhof.de
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