Mandarin Oriental, Munich
BACKGROUND Dating back to 1880, this Neo-Renaissance property originally housed the city’s ballroom. It’s been a hotel since 1990 and was taken over by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in 2000. The entire ground floor and first floor were refurbished two years ago.
WHERE IS IT? In the heart of Munich’s old town (altstadt), conveniently located for shopping with the boutiques and designer stores of Maximilianstrasse a couple of minutes to the north. Marienplatz (the central square) is a five-minute walk, while Munich International airport is a 30-minute drive.
W H AT ’ S IT LIKE? The hotel’s corner location lends itself to some extravagant architecture, with a wedding cake-like turret bringing a sense of grandeur. Heavy doors lead into a light, open lobby with plush goldflecked carpet, white walls and a dramatic sweeping staircase. Décor references Munich’s vernacular style, but there are Far Eastern flourishes.
The concierge desk can offer assistance with anything from sorting out tours of the city to charging phones (they have chargers for every make) and helping with flight cancellations. And staffers have an uncanny knack of somehow making guests feel special yet at home.
ROOMS There are 48 guest rooms and 25 suites on a theme of East-meets-West. Accommodation varies in size from the Superior Rooms to the 3,500-square foot Grand Presidential Suite. I was in a Mandarin Room. This bedroom has parquet flooring and oriental rugs in warm neutrals, with cherrywood Neo-Biedermeier-style furniture. The king-size bed is voluptuously comfortable and bedside tables feature a drawer with controls for the lighting and room service.
A sofa and coffee table sit opposite a sideboard with Bang & Olufsen flatscreen TV and a Nespresso machine on top. The complimentary minibar offers beers and water, with snacks in the adjacent cupboard.
My only complaint is that a kettle and tea are conspicuous by their absence. Storage, meanwhile, is notable in its generosity, with a capacious walk-in closet offering a place for everything. The large work desk has plugs, a universal plug converter and a tablet. Wifi is fast and each room has a portable phone.
The marble-clad bathroom features a heated floor, vanity unit, walk-in shower, bath with hand shower, and separate toilet and bidet. There are Shanghai Tang toiletries and cotton bathrobes. A turndown service is also offered.
FOOD AND DRINK Of the four food and drink options, the highlight is Matsuhisa from chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (of Nobu fame), which serves excellent Japanese-Peruvian fusion in a sleek interior. Although the atmosphere in the evening is buzzing, tables are well spaced, ensuring privacy in conversation. This is also where the extensive breakfast buffet is served.
The main bar in winter is Bar 31 on the ground floor. It’s open in the evenings with snacks served and good cocktails – as they should be at these top prices. The Lounge in the lobby also serves food and drinks throughout the day. In summer, the rooftop bar opens. Guests can dine al fresco or sip a cocktail while drinking in the 360-degree views.
MEETINGS Three meeting rooms offer space for up to 150 guests. Events can be catered and a complete office set-up is available. There is also a business center in the lobby, with computer, printer and fax.
LEISURE In the summer months the rooftop pool (for in-house guests) is open. There is a small fitness center with a steam bath and sauna.
VERDICT Facilities are good, décor is elegant yet inviting and the entire experience is one of comfort and ease. Excellent bar and restaurant offerings add to the impression that it would be easy to ignore the charms of Munich and simply enjoy the brief respite from not having to worry about anything at all.