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July 2005

Room Service

Check your guests into one of Munich’s unique hotels

There’s something deliciously exotic about being an expat. The second you announce to family and friends that you’re uprooting to foreign shores, you instantly become interesting and your life takes on that certain “wow” factor that you’d never have achieved back home, regardless of what a great house / car / job you may have had. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that as soon the last of the removal boxes are unpacked, those acquaintances with whom you previously only exchanged Christmas cards, are on the phone planning a visit. But, before you open your house up to the hoards of long lost relatives, why not suggest they give their holiday a bit of added value by checking out some of Munich’s unique hotels? We put a few to the test…

They say never judge a book by its cover. And nowhere is this more true than in the case of Hotel Königshof. After all, the uninspiring building standing not so proud at Stachus and plastered with advertising hoardings does not exactly scream luxury hotel. And yet it was voted Germany’s “Hotel of the Year 2005” by the prestigious Schlemmer Atlas, beating the likes of the Bayerischer Hof and Mandarin Oriental. So what are the secrets that took Königshof soaring to the upper echelons of the hospitality world?

For starters, as soon as you step inside you find yourself in a world of understated elegance. Instead of brash, in-your-face gold fittings and marble floors everywhere you look, Königshof offers a feeling of unintimidating luxury—an attitude that is mirrored in the staff. Guests, be they holidaymakers, businessmen or simply those out to treat themselves, are made to feel welcome. Unlike in some of the world’s top hotels, where staff seem to think it appropriate to be distant and arrogant, employees at Königshof come across as being genuinely friendly. Again, it’s not in your face. They’re not running around pestering you all the time, but, if you need anything, they’re there in a shot. Indeed, according to Schlemmer, one of the hotel’s biggest plus points is that, as a family-run establishment, it provides a far more personal touch than some of the bigger hotels.

Need your shoes cleaned? Forget some little ready-polished sponge provided in your bedroom. Simply place your shoes outside the door at night and they’ll be cleaned by hand and returned by the time you awake. Left your umbrella downstairs in the bar after one too many perfectly mixed cocktails? If personal experience is anything to go by, it’ll be returned to your room before you even realize you’re missing it.

The rooms, too, are luxurious without being over the top. Comfort is the name of the game and the whole thing is designed to make life as pleasant as possible for guests. Attention has been paid to detail—rooms come with a free bottle of water, a plate of fruit and chocolates, a pair of slippers by the bed, a Munich culture and shopping guide, speakers in the bathroom for those who like bathing to music and fresh roses and lilies. Taffeta drapes over the windows and above the bed and a selection of magazines including Vogue, Architecture Digest and Private Wealth, add a kiss of luxury. In fact, it’s exactly the sort of place where you want to wallow in a hot bath, glug champagne, wrap yourself in a fluffy white towel, jump on the bed and devour Vogue—and the chocolates—without a care in the world. Delicious! After that, why not check out the wellness area that opened in 2000? I was happy to find my favorite magazine—Munich Found—available as jacuzzi reading material. And what a jacuzzi! A marble staircase leads up to the bubble bath of all bubble baths, giving bathers an elevated view over the rest of the small, but elegant, complex.

If you can bear to drag yourself away, don’t miss the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Reading the menu is enough to make your mouth water. Creative without being pretentious, this is the sort of food dreams are made of. The wine list is a monstrous thing—how in the world is anyone meant to choose from the 1,000 different elixirs on offer? Those who, after all that pampering, are too chilled to make such a decision, could take the easy option and go for the tasting menu—four courses and a glass of wine with each for € 115. No, cheap it isn’t. Anyone watching the purse strings would be better off eating at lunchtime, when three courses including water and coffee cost € 42. Having said that, when you’re paying between € 200 and € 700 for a room, what are a few extra euros for a stunning meal? In fact, why not go the whole hog and book one of Königshof’s extravagant packages? How about the Shopping Special, which includes two nights’ accommodation, a three-course meal, discounts throughout the city, a free gift from the Aigner shop and various other treats for € 265 per person? Or budding pastry chefs might like to try the Patisserie Package of two nights’ accommodation, a champagne breakfast and a patisserie course for € 200 per person. And there are many more. In fact, when you look at what you’re getting, the offers are very reasonable. Yes, luxury goes to the head but, boy, does it feel good. Let the good times roll!
Hotel Königshof, Karlsplatz 25, Tel. 55 13 60,

Glitz and glamour is all very well. But sometimes all you need is charm. And there can be few better places to get it than at Hotel Mariandl, above Café am Beethovenplatz. This quaint little guesthouse is not the place to come with a bulging suitcase—staircases are tight and rooms are “cozy.” But for the odd night, it’s delightful. Wooden floors, antique wooden beds and decorative plasterwork on the ceilings have all been well maintained, and just a few subtle modern touches have been added, such as a mega power shower in the tiny private bathroom. Considering that the hotel is right above one of Munich’s most popular music cafés, it is incredibly peaceful and, despite the hard old beds (cute has its disadvantages!), we had a great night’s sleep. And on the plus side, the fact that you’ve got live entertainment downstairs means you don’t need venture out for a great night. Make sure you book a table though, if you’re intending to eat in the café, as it fills up quickly. Whether you eat dinner or not, make sure you leave some room for breakfast. The buffet is on a par with any luxury hotel. Hot muffins, eggs any which way you like them, homemade jams, fresh fruit salads and much more. This place has long been known as a top place for breakfast and there’s little wonder why. Pricewise, it’s pretty reasonable, too. Rooms range from € 60 to € 110, which includes breakfast. All in all, a great spot for some laid-back, unpretentious charm.
Hotel Mariandl, Goethestrasse 51, Tel. 54 40 43 48,

Jump back to the 21st century—and to Le Meridien. A haven of urban cool in the midst of kebab bars and bargain stores, just a stone’s throw from the Central Train Station, this new addition to Munich’s hotel scene may well have caught your eye as you’ve wandered down Bayerstrasse. The bar is très stylish, and the sort of place that beckons you in for a whisky and cigar after a good meal out. Sadly it stays open only until 11 pm, so is not really the night owl haunt that it appears. If you were hoping to while away the hours lounge lizard-style, your best bet is to book into a room and make a night of it. Indeed, rooms are sleek. Dark wood, clean Philippe Starckesque bathrooms, with two showers in one, and a giant plasma screen directly in front of the bed, this is, without a doubt, the stuff the modern man’s dreams are made of. Girls may not be so taken by it—after all, it takes a long time to wrench a bloke away from a plasma screen—but with a beauty and wellness center on hand, your best bet may just be to leave him to it and hope he finds a moment in his viewing schedule to take advantage of the hotel’s resident florist. As with Königshof, various packages are on offer, from a golfing special (for when they’ve tired of the TV) to a museum package, which includes free entry to a selection of city galleries. Room prices fluctuate and it’s worth calling the hotel to check for special offers. These are also featured on many hotel booking sites, including Expedia, so shop around before you confirm anything. As a general rule, you’re looking to pay anything up from € 125 per room per night, not including breakfast.
Le Meridien, Bayerstrasse 41, Tel. 242 20,

Others to try:
Hip young things need look no further than the Cortiina at Ledererstrasse 8 (Tel. 242 24 90, Opened in 2001, this is the brainchild of Munich’s cult gastronome Rudi Kull, who’s also behind Bar Centrale, Kull Bar and Riva, and architect Albert Weinzierl. The hotel bar alone is one of the city’s coolest hangouts, be it for cocktails or the hotel’s cult afternoon tea session. Describing itself as a “feel-good oasis,” Cortiina believes it’s the little extras that count. For example, mattresses were specially designed by the Biological Institute in Bonn. Rooms cost from € 146 to € 286.
If you fancy the idea of Königshof, but can’t run to the prices, try one of the Geisel family’s other ventures. From the classic Hotel Excelsior (€ 130–€ 310) with its highly recommendable restaurant Geisel’s Vinothek, to the contemporary Anna Hotel (€ 165–€ 275) or the simpler Cosmopolitan Hotel in Schwabing (€ 110–€ 190), all promise to make a stay in Munich something special. See for full details.
From the sublime … those on a budget should check out the newly opened Meininger Hostel at Landsbergerstrasse 20 ( Prices range from € 13 to € 37 per person, per night. With a simple but contemporary design, the hostel promises to offer hotel quality at hostel prices. There’s also an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet on offer for € 12.50.
Another hostel with a certain cult status is Wombat’s at Senefelderstrasse 1 ( The clean, modern building is more design hotel than backpackers’ hostel, although this is not reflected in the prices, which start at just € 16 per person per night and go up to a very reasonable maximum of € 48 during the Oktoberfest. Depending on the deal you choose, breakfast is either included or costs a bargain € 4. <<<

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