It’s not often I wake up 9 km skywards of Moldova but winging my way to Munich, I realise that far below is the country that should have won Eurovision 2011. Enough of misplaced regrets though. I’ll soon be landing in the Bavarian heartland, home of things most beloved by the lesser sex: beer, bratwurst, BMWs and buxom wenches. The Great Provider is plenty excited.
It’s a very long flight, not helped by a 5 hour layover in Changi which not even the SilverKris Lounge and a magic reflexology session can cure. We arrive at 5.15am, almost dead of exhaustion. The city is just starting to awaken into a cool indigo.
We check into our room at The Louis, a member of the Design Hotels fold. On one side, it overlooks the Viktualenmarkt, the city’s fresh food mecca, and from our little balcony we can see the trucks unloading fresh produce and the stallholders starting to open up their wooden cabins to reveal wheels of soft and tender cheeses, a bounty of Christmas fruits such as clementines and persimmons, haunches of cured piggies and an array of sausages made from every conceivable woodland creature.
On the other side is Marienplatz, Munich’s main square, which for most of December houses a fairytale Christmas market. I’m entranced by pearlised glass tree ornaments reminiscent of the 50’s, the prince is entranced by stalls full of tiny wooden toys, and my husband even finds something to like – stacks of nougats, pralines, chocolates and gingerbread.
It’s frosty out and the Louis may well be the best hotel in Munich for a number of reasons – it is perhaps the most centrally located hotel in town. It’s warm and bustling, with a mixed crowd (young designers, enviably groomed gay couples and a few crusty old money types in Burberry from the times before Burberry was the new Adidas). The rooms are very generously sized and homely, with wide unpolished oak floorboards, bespoke retro furniture made of bleached wood, linen and copper sheeting, and beautiful kilims on the floors. The rooms are oddly shaped too, which together with a sensible design turns them almost into miniature apartments rather than traditional hotel rooms.
The Louis Room is their top level room (both geographically and price wise) and is a large suite with two dormer windows from which the town centre’s towers are a stone’s throw away. It overlooks a small courtyard though, and we preferred the Deluxe Market View rooms, which even though a little smaller had a glorious view out on the Viktualenmarkt.
Staff were courteous and friendly but didn’t go out of their way to help with the few hiccups we had with our booking – our car didn’t arrive to collect us at the airport, there was no subsequent apology or explanation, and despite having paid 350E for a room the night before so we could check in on arrival the following morning, we had to check out of that room at midday and into our new room at 2pm which left us sitting in the lobby for that period with an exhausted toddler asleep on my lap. Now, unless the hotel was fully booked (which it wasn’t), it would have been nice for them to have offered us a late checkout until such time as our new room was ready. This is the sort of thoughtfulness which makes truly great hospitality but so few staff seem to offer it.
Anyway, the lovely rooms and outstanding location made up for it and I would certainly stay here again if the city even came up on my radar again. I’m not sure though that there was enough to interest me to return though. Die Welt of BMW? The Museum of Hunting and Fishing? The Steiff soft toy display? Probably not. My only regret was not making it out to Dachau – difficult with toddler in tow for many reasons. Maybe there will be a next time.