As I wrote in my April feature on Munich “Riding high”, the 175-year-old family-run Bayerischer Hof is the city’s grande dame. Wander along the pedestrianised boulevard from Marienplatz and you’ll see its entrance signposted by an unofficial memorial to Michael Jackson. Here, the base of a statue of composer Roland de Lattre has been adorned with photos of the King of Pop.
The Bayerischer Hof is run by Innegrit Volkhardt, who took over operations from her father, Falk, in 1994. Almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, the hotel has been ever expanding and renovating – 2005 saw the addition of a spa, a glass-walled rooftop restaurant and an outdoor terrace.
Back in the nineties, the hotel had more than 400 rooms, but it has since expanded the size of many of them by opening them up and reducing the overall room count to 340. The hotel sees a €64 million a year turnover, which I was told is the highest in Germany for a private hotel.
Soren Huber, the property’s director of business development, says the plan for the next ten months is to rebuild the G wing at the back of the property – it will go from 20 rooms to 28 with the addition of two new floors and a penthouse. The ballroom and event spaces in the Palais Montgelas wing will also be given a facelift. In February, the hotel held the 52nd annual Munich Security Conference, with high-profile attendees ranging from King Abdullah II of Jordan to US Secretary of State John Kerry.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This is a huge, luxury European hotel with an impressive history. You get a sense of how it has evolved over the years with its mix of traditional and modern interiors, as well as its footprint, which encompasses four inner courtyards.
Ushered by doormen through brass revolving doors, there is a beautiful stained-glass cupola over the lobby lounge, squeaky marble floors and formal reception desks where staff are on-hand throughout the day and night. You can even help yourself to a pretzel. Upstairs is a mezzanine gallery facing the square – I had a coffee here while I waited for my room to become available as I was checking in quite early.
WHERE IS IT?
On Promenadeplatz, a peaceful city centre street with a tramline running through it. There are usually taxis outside of the hotel but it’s only a few minutes to the metro station in Marienplatz. It’s 37km to Munich airport, to the north.
There are 340 rooms (including 65 suites – seven Panorama) sporting a huge variety of designs – from floral Laura Ashley to art deco Graf Pilati. In fact, as the hotel says, no two are alike. In the 1811 Palais Montegelas wing are gold-heavy European Classic rooms with antique furniture and rich upholstery, while the Cosmopolitan R&B rooms are more contemporary, decked out in a palette of red and black with leather armchairs. There are also rooms with Bavarian, African and even Hawaiian themes – it’s surprising for such a seemingly serious hotel (although they are luxurious rather than wacky).
Standard Double rooms are 30 sqm and come in Classic, Laura Ashley and Graf Pilati styles, with amenities including free wifi, water, fresh fruit, turndown service, flatscreen TVs, a wordesk, minibar, robes and slippers, Apple docks, safes and wardrobes. Room service is 24 hours.
I was staying in one of the more modern Graf Pilati suites (45-55 sqm), which was a tasteful blend of black, cream and white. It was very spacious, with a living room, bedroom and brown marble bathroom with both a tub and walk-in shower, but it faced an inner courtyard on the first floor so didn’t have much in the way of views. The king-size bed was very comfortable and there was air conditioning as well as large windows that opened.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The Bayerischer Hof has an amazing six bars and five restaurants. There is the traditional Bavarian Palais Keller for beer, meat and pretzels, 1970’s Polynesian-style Trader Vic’s and two Michelin-starred Atelier, while Falk’s bar was the only part of the hotel not destroyed in the Second World War.
A splendid buffet breakfast is served in the light-filled Roof Terrace lounge with fresh juices, cold cuts, multigrain bread, cheese platters, fruit salads, eggs, sausages and champagne. Staff will show you to a table and deliver tea or coffee. Beyond is a more private lounge (good for morning meetings with clients), where a la carte options are served.
I had a very enjoyable dinner at the elegant Garden restaurant, which was added in 2011 as a modern, glass-roofed extension. Alongside is a garden terrace. It’s quite unlike the rest of the hotel with its chic, minimalist interior design, hardwood floors and industrial metal girders, but the property is so big that having contrasting environments works. You feel like you have gone out for the night, as opposed to just popped down in the lift from your room.
Although eating solo, I didn’t feel self-conscious. The lighting was perfect (soft spotlights and candles), there are no white tablecloths so it didn’t feel too formal and the staff just the right level of attentiveness. Sitting back in a deep-cushioned square chair with a glass of Ruinart champagne, I started with the artichoke soup, which was rich, creamy and foamy with a pleasing balance of delicate savoury offset with sweet preserved walnut pieces at the bottom.
Side tables are brought over for wine bottles and fish preparation. Taking my time and nibbling on freshly made bread, I later moved on to a sumptuous dish of beautiful golden ribbons of buttery saffron pasta with soft chestnuts, finely sliced butternut squash and nutty Comte cheese. It was utterly moreish and offset nicely with a fresh green side salad with cucumber and yellow tomatoes.
The menu is seasonal so you may not get to experience these dishes when you come (which you must), but this summer there looks to be asparagus with Hollandaise, supreme of guinea fowl, rump steak Wagyu from Chile, a panko-crusted Pollock. Expect to pay about €20 for a starter and €30 for a main. There are also some classics available such as Wiener schnitzel and daily specials.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
On the right-hand side of the hotel, the Palais Monteglas has most of the conference space, which totals 40 venues in total. Ornate rooms vary in capacity from 14-25 in the wood-panelled Library to 200 in the Palais Hall. None of the meeting rooms are dull and featureless – you can go for the emerald green Monteglas Hall (up to 50 delegates) or the canary yellow Salon 15 (up to ten people), for example, each with heavy curtains and chandeliers.
The magnificent ballroom, meanwhile, can be hired out for large-scale occasions of more than 1,000 guests. For those looking for an al fresco option, the Blue Spa terrace can be taken over for 70-person cocktail parties. The Emporensalon is a 45 sqm business centre. The restaurants can all be rented as well – subterranean Palais Keller can seat 358 diners under vaulted ceilings.
Six years ago the three-floor Blue Spa on levels five to seven. At the top is a glass-roofed 14.5-metre-long swimming pool (open 7am-10.30pm), while below is a glass-walled gym (open 6.30am-10.30pm) facing the city skyline. (You can also open a door for fresh air, which is nice.) There is a separate lift that services this part of the hotel so it’s common to see people going in and out in robes.
Treatments are available in the spa area, where there are also saunas and steam rooms, a sun terrace and tanning booth. I had a Classic Swedish massage, which was relaxing, but I felt the therapist was a little lacking in confidence. I also thought the waiting area lacked atmosphere – the reception desk outside the lift isn’t very welcoming and there was no one around to greet me when I arrived. It’s also quite dark. Note that the spa is open to the public but all hotel guests get free access.
Downstairs on the ground floor is a cinema (added in 2011). It has 38 seats and movies cost €18, although you will have to check which screenings are in English. There’s also a nightclub, piano bar and boutiques selling fine watches and jewellery.
VERDICT This is a top hotel in Munich so expect to pay a premium for a stay here. The service, in the main, was very good, and I was impressed with the range of room offerings, meeting space, restaurants and health facilities. You’ll find everything you need here.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 275 rooms and 65 suites.
- HIGHLIGHTS The choice of rooms in a variety of décor, the swimming pool and the excellent food served at the stylish Garden restaurant. There is also a vast amount of meeting space for events organisers.
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in July started from €305 for a Deluxe room.
- CONTACT Bayerischer Hof, Promenadeplatz 2-6, Munich; tel +49 8921 200; bayerischerhof.de