Bayerischer Hof hotel review, Munich: the ever-changing grande dame of Bavarian hotels
The Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich has been in the same family for four generations, but has been able to follow with aplomb the dizzying changes of the last century. Toby Keel visited.
Few hotels can claim to have been created by a king. In fact, we only know of one, and that is the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, created when King Ludwig I of Bavaria suggested to industrialist Joseph Anton von Maffei that someone really should build a first class hotel in the Bavarian capital.
Maffei got the hint, commissioning Friedrich von Gärtner – Ludwig’s favorite architect – to build a hotel which opened in 1841 and which is still the grande dame of places to stay in Munich. The cover of the hotel’s official history features Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger, the Dalai Lama, Michael Jackson and Andy Warhol; this is where the great and the good come.
The hotel is still in the same square, Promenadeplatz, as it always has – right in the heart of the city, practically on the doorstep of the best Munich has to offer – but other than that, we have the he feels like everything about the place has changed over the years, retaining the best of the old while welcoming the new.
Since the original building was constructed, the hotel has grown, was almost completely destroyed by bombs in 1944, and annexed a number of surrounding buildings, including the Monteglas Palace in the 1950s – and the change is constantly going on. This dynamism is all the more remarkable considering that the hotel has belonged to the same family for more than a century: the current (and charming) owner is Innegrit Volhardt, whose great-grandfather Hermann bought the premises in 1899.
The juxtaposition of the old and the new can be disarming. Enter the marble-floored lobby and the atmosphere is intimate, traditional and welcoming; Head to the public rooms and you will find glass dome shaped lounges and you will find the amazing Falk Bar, a hall of mirrors that only gets more dazzling with each glass of Franconia or Augustiner stein.
Go down a flight of stairs and you will find yourself in the Tiki Bar, Trader Vic’s; unless you turn to another corner, in which case you’ll end up in a classic German beer cellar, or maybe the sophisticated jazz bar. Above, meanwhile, there is also a famous Art Deco ballroom and a suite of reception rooms so perfectly designed from the 18th century that they could be used – indeed are used – to film sumptuous costumed dramas. Meanwhile, keep going up and you’ll come to the pool and spa, where you can get a massage followed by a swim with a view.
It’s not just the hotel’s common areas that have surprises in store. Hop on the elevator and walk up to one of the 337 rooms and you might just as easily find yourself in a sumptuous traditional room, or one of the avant-garde themed suites, or the modern and sleek designed rooms. by Axel Vervoordt. Vervoordt also installed the hotel’s on-site cinema, but its crowning glory – literally, since it sits atop the hotel – is the breathtaking glass-walled penthouse suite, which offers spectacular views over the roofs of the city.
If you have a strong preference for one style over another, be sure to state that when you book, but we’re sure all tastes are catered for here. If there is another place to stay in Europe that manages to be everything, we would like to see it; he is the mathematician of the hotel industry. No wonder people keep coming back year after year.
Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Promenadeplatz 2-6, D-80333 Munich. Double rooms from € 430 including breakfast. See www.bayerischerhof.de for more information.
Food and drink
You can eat like a Bavarian prince without leaving the grounds of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. The grand restaurant is Atelier, one of less than a dozen restaurants in Germany to hold three Michelin stars – although its current status with French referees of culinary grandeur is currently to be confirmed, with former chef Jan Hartwig having decided to spend the summer. His replacement, Anton Gschwendtner, is almost ready to reopen the doors – and given that he has worked here before and held two stars in his last job at Olivo in Stuttgart, hopes are high.
In the meantime, the food we ate at Atelier Garden, on the veranda next to the fine dining room, was utterly superb, as was the range of cocktails at Trader Vic’s.
Be warned though: pushing the boat on these cocktails (literally – you’re served in a ceramic boat) can mean your memories of the Asian cuisine on offer get a bit hazy. At least having multiple options for breakfast the next morning will help clear your head.
Far from the Bayerischer Hof, Munich is one of those towns where you seem to see food everywhere, and if you like the sound of traditional Bavarian dishes – sausage, beer, potatoes – you are in for a treat. Century-old beerhouses seem to be around every corner, but your first gastronomic stopover should be the iconic Viktualienmarkt, which takes place every day in its own square at a location set by the royal decree of King Maximilian I in 1807.
There’s a dizzying array of unusual meats, cheeses, breads, vegetables, and sugary treats – and if wandering creates a thirst, the beer garden is a great place to sit under the trees with a tankard. of one of the great Bavarian beers: Augustiner is particularly recommended.
Things to do
Munich’s greatest monument – and one that by law no building can despise – is its vast cathedral, the Frauenkirche. We won’t claim that it shares the grace or beauty of an Orvieto or a Saint Paul, but its scale is undeniably impressive, and although 60% of the city was destroyed by Allied bombs during the Second World War II, the towering 100m from the Frauenkirche towers have survived.
Shopping is a real treat in Munich, with everything from lavish department stores to a four-story boutique entirely dedicated to the Bayern Munich football club. If Covid-19 doesn’t rule out Christmas shopping this winter (and at the time of writing, it might well), then the city’s Christmas markets – such as the Kripperlmarkt and Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz – are world famous. Don’t miss the huge Dallmayr, Munich’s answer to Fortnum & Mason, and the Fünf Höfe shopping center, with its stunning art illustrations that make the stores themselves feel decidedly secondary.
Speaking of art, the city’s Pinakothek der Moderne, designed by Stephan Braunfels, is one of Europe’s top modern art museums. It is a huge and bright space that houses modern art, design and architecture under one roof.
And finally, in the square just in front of the hotel entrance, you will find a real curiosity: a shrine dedicated to the late Michael Jackson. The reason for its location here? Jacko always stayed at the hotel when he was in Munich, and the Bayerischer Hof is the hotel where he infamously hung his toddler son hanging from the balcony while greeting adoring fans. After the singer’s death, fans gathered in front of the hotel to pay their respects, creating the tribute that has been there ever since.
Charles Quest-Ritson has spent years traveling to Germany to collect ideas and new plants, but he is puzzled that no one