Modernity and tradition are strangely comfortable bedfellows in Germany’s second city, writes Arun Kakar
A bierkeller is never too far from a boutique in Munich. Bavaria’s capital is a bastion of German tradition, hospitality – and luxury.
On arrival at our hotel, the Bayerischer Hof, this becomes immediately apparent. We’re staying in a new wing, a hygge-chic branch of the hotel from Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt. At 178 years of age and still under family ownership, the Bayerischer remains the city’s gold standard.
Heading out for a pre-supper walk, it takes less than a minute to arrive at the main square, the Marienplatz. Munich comes across as more refined than its edgy sister, Berlin. There’s more tweed than techno here, with shops like the men’s shirt seller Emanuel Berg a fixture.
Before long, we’re feasting on Polynesian cuisine at Trader Vic’s, among shipwrecks and luau music. We’re treated to a succession of noodles and tiki-cocktails and tempura and everything in between.
The next morning we march around town on a drizzly walking tour. In the heatinerkirche, the centrepiece on the main thoroughfare of Salvatorplatz, we ogle at 18th-century baroque masterpieces. Then the Staatliche Münzsammlung museum offers the chance to reflect on the site of 1923’s Munich putsch.
After a revitalising lunch and coffee at the Blue Spa with its health-conscious menu, we head to the Pinakothek der Moderne, one of Europe’s most prominent modern art galleries. Chief curator Corinna Thierolf whizzes us through its considerable collection.
We catch our breath over dinner at the Bayerischer, in its rustic garden conservatory restaurant, where my outstanding veal is paired perfectly with a deep red wine.
After dinner I meet an old friend at one of the city’s bierkellers. In the packed Hofbräuhaus, we enjoy several steins, shouting to be heard over cheering, table-thumping and a sweaty oom-pah band on its fifth encore of the evening.
We’ve both heard a lot about the city – and the country – being in a state of flux. But Munich is a still a city that offers culture, class and an abundance of luxury that few others can rival. It’s time to head back to the bar. Noch ein Bier, bitte!