When you think of Munich, some of the first things that might come to mind are Oktoberfest, lederhosen, and the blue and white checked Bavarian flag. While Munich has the charm of a cozy Bavarian hamlet, it’s full of the hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolis. The prosperous capitol of Bavaria has one foot in the 12th century and one in the 21st by remaining committed to tradition and history while fully embracing technology and a bright future.
In Munich you can attend the opera, drink delicious local Weissbier in a beer hall once frequented by Mozart, and bask in the presence of masterpieces at the Pinakothek, which houses paintings by Rubens, Durer and Rembrandt. In the winter, you can peruse Christmas markets galore, and in the summer you can relax or ride a bike in the massive park known as the English Garden. Here are five ways to enjoy the luxury Munich has to offer.
Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski
The Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski (Four Seasons in English) is a five star luxury hotel in a central location on swanky Maximilian Street. Just a couple of blocks from Munich’s city center, this hotel offers easy access to many of Munich’s major sights and high end shopping.
Enter the hotel to an energetic grand lobby that also functions as a tearoom open to the general public. A colorful stained glass ceiling and dark wood create an elegant atmosphere. The Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski is opulent and glamorous with décor inspired by the King Ludwig II era. It is a contemporary hotel with a traditional feel. Rooms are beautifully appointed with warm wood furniture, hues of burgundy and gold and walls dramatically decorated with canvas copies of famous paintings from Munich’s Pinakothek art museum.
There is a spa and pool on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the city. Views are gorgeous, and on a clear day, you can see the Alps. The glowing blue pool is especially beautiful at night and while it looks like a meditative oasis, the pool is long enough to swim laps. Chaise lounges provide respite from a busy day. Spa treatments are modeled after the seasonal concept— a warming energizing massage for winter, detoxing massage for spring, balancing for summer, and relaxing for fall.
Breakfast is extensive, with a huge buffet served in a pretty dining room with painted wood panels and views of Maximilian Street. Much more welcome than your standard wake-up call, this hotel offers guests the decadent and complimentary service of waking you up with coffee. Getting up for an early morning flight or sightseeing is so much easier when there is a smiling face with a hot cappuccino at your door.
Spatenhaus an der Oper
For traditional Bavarian meals in a beautiful atmosphere, head to the Spatenhaus, conveniently located opposite the National Theater Opera House. This restaurant has deep roots, having served brews and meals since 1896. Popular with both locals and tourists, they are famous for their Kaiserschmarr’n, which is a deconstructed German pancake cooked in a skillet with raisins and almonds, and served with apple puree. This is a familiar dish to Bavarians — it’s food they grew up with. This is the appeal of Spatenhaus, people love the homemade food derived from old Bavarian cookbooks.
Don’t miss the Chestnut Soup, which is delicious paired with salad. The atmosphere is at once luxurious and rustic with crystal chandeliers, exposed wood, classic paintings, and fresh flowers. Downstairs features a casual menu and upstairs you will find more upscale fare. Spatenhaus is the perfect place to stop for post-opera refreshments.
From 1508 to 1918, the Munich Residence was the political and cultural center of Bavaria’s ruling dynasty. If you like history, you will probably love strolling through the gilded halls of this landmark. You’ll find unique and priceless treasures like Napoleon’s fancy picnic set, crown jewels, and ornate chess sets. It’s a wonderful way to learn more about German history. Like much of Munich, most of the building had to be reconstructed after being demolished during WWII.
Blue Spa Bar & Lounge
For some of the very best views in Munich, enjoy cocktails, tea, or lunch at the Blue Spa Bar and Lounge on the roof of the luxurious Bayerischer Hof hotel. They serve gourmet spa cuisine and drinks, but mainly you are there to drink in the 360-degree panoramic views, which include Munich’s monumental twin domed towers of Die Frauenkirche. Interesting menu options like Mango Soup with Lemongrass Prawn Skewers quench the appetite while the orchid adorned atmosphere and view provides the entertainment. On the terrace, they offer BBQ in the summer and a Polar Bar with a glowing fire during winter.
BMW Museum and Plant
If you happen to be a luxury automobile aficionado, BMW Welt offers a unique multi-dimensional experience. From the futuristic Welt building to exhibitions and even a children’s section for budding BMW enthusiasts, you can immerse in all things BMW. Learn all about the history of BMW at the Museum, and then check out the manufacturing process at the Plant. You can even purchase a BMW and pick it up at BMW Welt—over 100,000 people have had the thrill of collecting their new car in this special setting.
Shopping on Maximilianstrasse and Marienplatz
Named after King Maximilian II of Bavaria who planned the street in 1850, Maximilian Street is where most of the higher end luxury shops are located. You’ll find Gucci, Dior, Chanel, and more. Just beyond Maximilianstrasse, where the street begins at the National Theater, is Marienplatz, the city square that offers more shopping and strolling. Here you will see the famous Glockenspiel and the Neo-Gothic architecture of the New Town Hall. When the Glockenspiel chimes its 43 bells, mechanized figurines act out historical events like a royal marriage and a jousting tournament.
Leah DeAngelis is Editor of Best Travel Gear.
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