Hotel Review: Bayerischer Hof, Munich

Founded on the whim of a king, Bayerischer Hof walks the tightrope between its heritage and modernity with dexterity

Munich is not so much a city of contrasts as one of variety. Steeped in history at every turn, visitors might take in 16th-century architecture, including notable historic sites such as The Residenz; the verdant Hofgarten; and a cluster of contemporary fashion or design stores within a short walk. The clean and spacious city centre lends itself to a brisk walk or leisurely amble, particularly pleasant at this time of year with frosty mornings and evening Glühwein at the Christkindlmarkt beckoning. 

This melting pot of eras and ages is nowhere more deftly demonstrated than at Bayerischer Hof, the Grande Dame hotel of Munich, now owned by the fourth generation of the Volkhardt family. An ever-present and reliable constant in the capital for Bavarian locals and regular visitors, it is part of the city’s tapestry with a treasure trove of delights to discover inside.

Entering the hotel the many faces of Bayerischer Hof become quickly evident. Peacefully located in a leafy square within the city centre, revolving doors spin you into a grand foyer with sweeping staircase, balconies above and views through to the impressive Mirror Room bar ahead. Something to discover whichever way you look and certainly an imposing first impression. Come in from Kardinal-Faulhaber-Straße to find a more intimate entrance with boutique shops and Trader Vic’s, a München haunt popular with the city’s young professionals.

Behind the facade, Bayerischer Hof is a world of its own, encompassing a theatre, cinema, four bars, five restaurants, multiple lounges, a pool, gym and spa, not to mention 337 rooms including 74 suites. Over the years, it has attracted famous names and faces from across the globe and generations, from pop royalty such as Michael Jackson, to titans including Muhammad Ali, and creatives from Jeff Koons to Helmut Lang. Since the ’60s, it’s played host to the annual Munich Security Conference, attracting security-orientated decision-makers from foreign ministers to presidents and heads of state. You wonder what stories would be told if the walls could talk…

While many guests return time and again for a sense of continuity and reliability, there’s also an appetite and need to keep pace with the changing times as the city evolves around the hotel. Many of the spacious suites and rooms offer the traditional interiors, grand trims, and floral fabrics one would expect of such a Bavarian institution, yet between 2016 and 2018 the entire south and north wing of the hotel were reimagined with interior designer and antique dealer Axel Vervoordt at the helm. The resulting rooms showcase his recognisable style, with low-key design choices emphasising the materials used.

‘Perfectly imperfect’, our room is soothing in neutral tones, appealing to the contemporary traveller. Inspired by nature and underpinned by organic textures and tones, each Vervoordt-designed room features rustic touches such as tables made from reclaimed wood, offset by sizeable beds with rounded headboards, beige, taupe, and white linens, and textured tiles of Valverde natural stone.

Ahead of supper, a trip to the rooftop pool and accompanying sauna quickly cleanse the soul and senses, sluicing off any lingering stresses from the day. Peaceful in the winter, with extensive views over the rooftops to the beckoning mountains beyond, come summer the roof retracts to allow guests to make the most of this haven, hidden above the city.

Vervoordt’s influence continues into the Garden restaurant and adjacent terrace, where we spent an enjoyable evening. Spacious and bright, no matter the season, the lofty terrace plays host to a relaxing yet polished dining experience. Staff are professional, warm and knowledgeable, and the menu of seasonal dishes and contemporary fare showcases local ingredients alongside elevated Bavarian classics, complemented by an attractive wine list. 

This contrasting modernity and history is what makes Bayerischer Hof so special, and endears it to visitors to the city and locals alike year after year. As you walk its hallowed hallways, it feels both grand and familiar.

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All images courtesy of Benjamin Monn
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