Winter Wonderland: Christmas at Rosewood Munich
Discover how the newly opened Rosewood Munich is the perfect luxury escape — just in time for Christmas
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Especially in Munich, where dramatic architecture is lit by fairy lights, picture-perfect markets abound and you’re never more than a few feet away from a warming glass of glüwein. Yet, despite the city’s many yuletide charms – not forgetting Maximilianstasse, a 70-metre-long stretch of high-end retailers (wink wink, Santa) – the Bavarian capital is oft-overlooked by luxury travellers in favour of its Austrian neighbour, Vienna. Now, thanks to the hotly anticipated Rosewood Munich, that’s all about to change.
Set on a quiet street in the city’s historic centre, Rosewood’s Deutschland debut first opened its doors back in October 2023, plugging a much-needed gap in Munich’s well-heeled market, which hasn’t seen a luxury opening of this sort for more than 16 years. The location doesn’t disappoint. Honouring Rosewood’s ‘Sense of Place’ philosophy – which seeks to maintain the character of each destination through re-appropriating historical buildings – the hotel is spread across two landmark structures; the former headquarters of the State of Bavaria Bank and an 18th-century aristocratic residence, Palais Neuhaus-Preysing.
As befits a former palace, the hotel’s imposing Baroque facade is crowned with Bavarian limestone sculptures — a grand first impression, though shortly trumped as I step through the hotel’s sizable double-doors to find sweeping marble staircases cascading below high-vaulted, frescoed ceilings. Antique teller booths have been artfully preserved by local architects Hilmer Sattler Architekten Ahlers, and if you haven’t yet shot for this year’s Christmas card, the seasonal finery adorning the staircases’ centrepoint makes a fine spot to do so. But despite the building’s noble bones, Rosewood Munich never feels stuffy. The lobby is as warm as a living room with dark timber shelving and shapely, jewel-toned seating. Bouquets of winter berries, glass biscuit jars and at-the-ready Champagne makes lounging all the merrier. A handsome Christmas tree twinkles in the corner, already well-stocked with goodies under its finely-dressed firs. It’s no mean feat making a space this size feel so cosy, but that’s exactly what London-based designer Tara Bernerd has achieved here by reimagining original design elements in a remarkably contemporary way. Chequered marble floors nod to the original parquet of the Palais, while theatrical ceiling domes are used as a recurring motif throughout, drawing inspiration from Munich’s many churches.
This heady mix of history and modernity continues throughout the property’s 132 apartment-style suites and guest rooms, each fit for a könig with cloud-like beds and soaking tubs big enough for two. After raiding the mid-century minibar of my Deluxe Suite (stocked-up with winter warmers like buttery popcorn and pre-mixed cocktails) I stop to admire Olaf Hajek’s ‘Bavarian pop’ portraits; contemporary depictions of historical figures like Empress Sissi and King Ludwig II which give walls a pleasing pop of colour. The Rosewood group, whose portfolio spans 44 properties – with another 30 in development, including Rosewood Doha, Amsterdam and Miyakojima, all due to open next year – are well known for their dialled-in attention to detail. And Rosewood Munich is no exception with its Rivolta Carmignani Italian robes and linens, heated floors, and a thoughtfully curated selection of destination-inspired books. Then there are the regal penthouses, each named after Bavarian heads of states and their wives. These are ideal for longer stays with fully-equipped kitchens, adjoining suites, and plentiful space for entertaining.
And as comforting as it may be to hole-up under a bespoke Mühldorfer duvet nursing a hearty glass of red, Christmas is about coming together. And for this, there’s no shortage of opportunity, especially across the lower ground floor, where two spaces fashioned by local designer Caroline Dippold invite good tidings all-around. In Brasserie Cuvilliés, smartly-dressed couples convene over dishes which combine the best of Bavaria – think crisp golden schnitzels and fluffy, salted pretzels – with Alpine favourites like spinach dumplings bathed in brown butter, lemon emulsion and topped with pecorino.
But it’s the buzzy Bar Montez that’s busy shaking up Munich’s scene like a snow globe. A homage to the city’s original party girl, the bar takes its name from Lola Montez, the fiery Spanish dancer and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who was eventually banished from the kingdom for her many affairs. Speaking of which, the Royal Affair is the cocktail to order here, a dangerous but delectable blend of mezcal aperol, citrus, bitters, and orange blossom. Here belies the life and soul of Rosewood Munich, a hedonistic hotspot that oozes art-deco glamour, tricked-out in velvet, gold and mirrored accents, with a live jazz band who play in front of a cubist, stained-glass mural made by the iconic glass workshop Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt. Locals crowd in from the street entrance, and I observe them from my perch at the bar; all exceptionally chic in their cashmere and furs. And when one too many cocktails has you erring on the naughty side, a stop at Rosewood’s Asaya spa will return you to the top of the nice list in no time, with a rejuvenating roster of soul-soothing massages and monastic healing rituals inspired by ancient Germanic folk remedies. The pool area is exceptionally inviting, and quickly becomes part of my daily routine here with countless cosy nooks to curl up in, a soul-soothing soundtrack of ambient beats and a warming labyrinth of steam rooms and saunas.
If Munich is a bustling metropolis with a village feel, Rosewood is a palace with the atmosphere of a family home, and I conclude my stay the same way as I started it – sipping coffee in front of the Winter Garden’s roaring fire. There is one major difference though, as the courtyard outside, previously green with its arrangement of potted plants, sits under a thick blanket of freshly fallen snow. Here at Rosewood Munich, ‘tis the season, indeed.