hotel exterior with historic tower reflecting in pool fountain
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Schloss Elmau

Located a 90-minute drive southeast of Munich, surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, Schloss Elmau is a fairytale castle estate focused on wellness and culture.

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Bayerischer Hof

Guests who check into the Bayerischer Hof in the morning are greeted by baskets of small Bavarian pretzels baked on the premises perched on the front desk. It’s a type of lovely touch that makes this formal grande dame, set along bustling Promenadenplatz close to the Fünf Höfe and the Kunsthalle museum, feel accessible and warm.

The Bayerischer Hof has been in the same family since 1897, and like a historic palace to which subsequent rulers added their own creative touches, the hotel has a host of details, some of which work better together than others. Comprising two buildings, including the historic Palais Montgelas, the Bayerischer Hof is a large property, with five restaurants, an impressive spa and fitness area and a cushy small movie theater. For the traveller who appreciates this kind of infrastructure, the Bayerischer Hof is a good landing spot for exploring the city, but those looking for personalized and high touch service might look elsewhere.

The 340 rooms, including 60 suites, come in a maddening array of interior approaches. There are twelve design schemes (among the more successful are Country House and the Princely Suite styles), plus specialty suites located on the 7th floor (with great views) and in the Palais Mongelas. Owner and manager Innegrit Volkhardt, is known as the “renovation lady” in Munich’s hotel circles, so there are constant updates being made.

One of the most successful additions in recent years has been the Blue Spa, designed by the late interior mastermind Andrée Putman, which has five treatment rooms. The rooftop space also includes a glorious pool beneath a sliding glass roof (for al fresco swimming in the summer) and a restaurant focused on spa cuisine. The latter is a lovely spot for lunch even if you’re not staying here. Another bright space for a relaxed midday meal is Garden, conceived by Belgian interior designer and art dealer Axel Vervoordt and focused on Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. At night, Atelier restaurant is a more formal, Michelin -starred affair but even if you’re dining elsewhere, come for a drink at Falk’s Bar, housed in a stunning room whose embellishment dates from 1839.

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Suite at Hotel Louis, Munich, Germany

Hotel Louis

Run by the same hoteliers as longtime designer darling Cortiina, Hotel Louis has been embraced by independent travelers (it’s best for couples) for its setting across from Viktualienmarkt, which feels more local than the five-star properties right on the big shopping streets. The dimly lit lobby looks more like a living room, with a large fireplace and comfy sitting nooks, and it leads seamlessly into hot spot Japanese restaurant Emiko.

Interiors of the 72 rooms are chic and sleek, with wide-plank wooden floors, simple furnishings; innovative armoires that glide out of the walls like drawers; and mini bars inside what look like old-world steamer trunks. The best rooms have French balconies overlooking the bustling market outside.

Since inception in 2010, Hotel Louis has hosted numerous fashionable events, so guests looking for a serene atmosphere might be overwhelmed by Munich’s beau monde some of the time, depending on the season. It’s the closest to staying in a designer hotel in Soho or Tribeca as Munich can offer.

Lobby at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski, Munich, Germany

Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski

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Pool at Mandarin Oriental München, Munich, Germany

Mandarin Oriental München

With just 73 room, including 24 suites, the Mandarin Oriental is more boutique than its competitors (the Bayerische Hof and Vier Jahreszeiten). It’s situated south of busy MaximilIanstrasse, the so-called “Madison Avenue” of Munich with Gucci, Prada and the like, around the corner from the city’s Hofbräuhaus.

Occupying a neo-Renaissance building with a white turret at its center, the Mandarin was fully renovated in 2007, though its rooms showcase a kind of elegant timelessness. Nothing here is super innovative or destination specific but the hotel gets all the details right: marble bathrooms come with Molton Brown amenities and heated floor; the beds are lined in crisp, cotton-satin sheets; and children get toys upon arrival.

Due to the quirky architecture of this 1870s palais, no two rooms have the same layout. Some have slanted ceilings, others have spectacular views from their bathtubs, others yet have balconies. The most romantic must be the five tower suites, with an elevated circular sitting area whose windows have 360-degree views of the city and beyond.

Like the Bayerischer Hof, the Mandarin boasts a rooftop swimming pool and the adjacent China Moon Terrace lounge is one of the best places for an aperitif during the summer. In winter, it’s still worth visiting the MO rooftop, which is transformed into a cozy wooden chalet, where diners can sample rustic food and seasonal cocktails. More formal fare is found at the Michelin -starred Mark’s restaurant, whose old-fashioned décor is going to be updated this year.

Those traveling with kids can take advantage of a comprehensive program, with children’s menus, amenities, welcome gifts and babysitting service. The whole family can enjoy a bike rental program (Mercedes-Benz bikes, of course). The Mandarin is within walking distance to many sights and museums. Note that the proximity to the Hofbräuhaus makes late-night encounters with beer-seekers unavoidable, especially during Oktoberfest. During the day, the famous Brauhaus is a great spot for a local lunch.

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Courtesy Rosewood Munich, photo by Davide Lovatti

Rosewood Munich

Munich's newest luxury hotel raises the bar when it comes to design, services and amenities, including a great restaurant, bar and spa

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curved hotel building seen through trees

The Charles Hotel, A Rocco Forte Hotel

Indagare reviews The Charles Hotel, a Rocco Forte property in Munich, Germany that is modern and boutique with high-touch service and a discreet location.

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