Best known for its beer and football, Munich is often bypassed for Berlin. But with grandeur and beauty in abundance, there's more to the Bavrian city than meets the eye.
We can almost hear the tapping of the first keg as the city gears up for this year’s Oktoberfest. But see past the millions of beer guzzling enthusiasts – who sank around seven million tankards of beer at the 200th anniversary last year – and you’ll find a distinctly cosmopolitan and stylish European city.
Location is key and staying in the hub of things always stands you in good stead for a good time. For luxury without the pomp, a stay at The Charles Hotel is highly recommended. Sister hotel to The Balmoral in Edinburgh, it exudes the same class but takes a contemporary approach in its style with a fresh, light colour scheme in the rooms and views over the picturesque Old Botanical Garden and towards the Bavarian Alps. It’s also within walking distance of famous shopping areas such as the Theatinerstrasse, Maximilianstrasse, close to the Old Town and just a five minute walk from Central Station which means you can save on the 60 euros taxi fare from the airport and take the fast S-train for around 10 euros if you wanted.
To get your bearings, the City Sight Seeing bus tours give a great overview, and brief history of famous sights, for as little as 14 euros. From amazing museums like the Residence which was the home of the ruling family in Bavaria for centuries to probably Munich’s most famous sight, the Palais Nymphenberg, which was built by the notorious King Ludwig I who commissioned an artist to paint the 50 most beautiful women in the world - most of whom lived in Munich - before he eventually fell for Irish dancer, Lola Montez, a scandal that caused him to lose his throne.
There are lots of options for eating out and if you’re at the hotel, the Davvero restaurant is pretty special. But it’s also a must to hit the restaurants at the beer halls which do decent food as well as humungous tankards of beer. The Augustinier beer hall is in the city centre; as is the most famous one, the Hofbrauhaus - once a drinking haunt of Hitler… Despite the negative connotations that may bring, the food is wholesome, reasonably priced and the atmosphere always amazing with a Bavarian band often in residence. Beer gardens are also in abundance and a definite must see. The tree shaded drinking spots keep the cellars cool during the summer and all serve their own freshly brewed beer in one litre steins - having only stumbled across three we didn’t even scratch the surface of the estimated 1,000 around town.
For those looking for a nightlife that’s more high brow, the Maximiliansplatz bars like 089 - Bar & Lounge and Pacha Munich are good for a dance or just to people watch. Or party with the beautiful people and prepare to spend at 8 Seasons on Maximilianstrasse, the street of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Mont Blanc and friends.
The Charles Hotel, Sophienstrasse 28, Munich, 80333, Tel: 00 49 89 544 5550, www.thecharleshotel.com
KLM fly direct to Munich from Glasgow or try Easyjet from Edinburgh, www.easyjet.com
Oktoberfest 2012 takes place on 22 September-07 October 2012.
words Nicky Howden