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Magical Munich

travelRegularly voted as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Venetia van Kuffeler enjoys a relaxing stay at Munich’s Bayerischer Hof

 Sitting on the Blue Bar roof terrace of the Bayerischer Hof, it’s easy to see why Munich is regularly voted one of the world’s ‘most liveable’ cities. Soaking up breathtaking panoramic views of the city under the summer sun, assorted rooftops, the belltower of the Frauenkirche (the cathedral that is the symbol of the city) and even the snowcapped Alps can all be seen from this magnificent spot. And the Bavarian capital is so quiet! The surroundings are incredibly calm, thanks to it being a predominantly pedestrianised neighbourhood – locals travel on bicycles and trams glide by, with church bells tolling in the background.

Located on the River Isar to the north of the Bavarian Alps, Munich is home to many national and international authorities, major universities, museums and theatres. Its numerous architectural attractions, international events, exhibitions and Oktoberfest celebrations attract considerable numbers of visitors.

Found in the heart of Munich, the Bayerischer Hof is in the monument-bedecked square of Promenadeplatz, just a few minutes’ stroll from the Bavarian State Opera House. The Volkhardt family has owned the Bayerischer Hof for over 100 years, although it originally opened in 1841 on the wishes of King Ludwig I who required a comfortable place for his guests to stay. The King himself was rumoured to have paid regular visits to take a ‘royal bath,’ because his own residence lacked hot running water. Now in its fourth generation, the hotel is run by Innegrit Volkhardt, great-granddaughter of the hotel’s founder. Under her direction, the hotel has received numerous awards, most notably the Best Business Hotel in Germany, Best Grand Hotel, Best Wellness Hotel, and World’s Best Spa City Resort. Notable guests have included Henry Ford, Princess Grace of Monaco, Prince Albert of Monaco, Aga Khan, Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Henry Kissinger and Michael Jackson.

The building houses 345 rooms including 60 suites, one of which is the largest in Europe (Palais Montgelas), all exuding elegance and luxury. Design is a strong theme throughout the hotel, with some rooms recently refurbished by Siegward Graf Pilati, offering muted tones and wonderful marble bathrooms. It’s best to request a room overlooking the Promenadeplatz.

Michelin-star awarded Atelier is just one of five restaurants offering a variety of exceptional Bavarian, Polynesian and Mediterranean cuisine. The hotel recently unveiled its newest restaurant, Roof Garden, remodelled by innovative French design studio Jouin Manku, which  is both modern, white and soothing and the perfect place to enjoy the delicious breakfast.

High above the roofs of Munich, the Blue Spa is arguably the crowning glory of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Architect Andrée Putman has created an oasis boasting a rooftop pool, fitness studio, bar, lounge and restaurant. The Blue Spa Terrace and Lounge offers an invigorating selection of deliciously light and healthy teas, smoothies and meals, along with a well stocked bar menu. The mosaic pool has a retractable roof and is the perfect spot to unwind after your journey, before a delightfully relaxing signature treatment at the hotel’s spa.

If shopping is on the agenda, the upmarket department store Lodenfrey is opposite, and be sure not to miss the lederhosen, dirndls and other traditional Bavarian wares on the third floor. When it comes to entertainment, there’s no need to leave the hotel, as the Bayerischer Hof often hosts theatre or jazz concerts. There’s even an Axel Vervoordt-designed in-house cinema. The Bayerischer Hof’s six bars are regularly named in travel guides and range from the tranquil Piano Bar to Falk’s Bar, located in the famed ‘Mirror Hall’, the only room in the Bayerischer Hof to have survived the Second World War unscathed.

 We had a couple of gripes: €8,90 for a litre of water in the room seemed a bit excessive, and the WiFi required a daily code printed out from the front desk for each device. Two of us travelling with an iPhone, iPad and laptop, (fairly standard for business travellers these days) required six paper print outs over two days. But aside from that, the Bayerischer Hof is living proof that you can’t create a world-renowned hotel overnight; it takes centuries.


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