Hotels in major cities come and go…. often opened to cater to the latest social trend and fad they seldom last. So in 1839, when King Ludwig expressed his desire for a first class hotel in Munich few could have imagined the impact it would have on the city then and remarkably continues to have now. Earlier in the year we were invited to explore one of the world’s most iconic hotels and discover it’s opulence, it’s history and it’s bizarre connection to Michael Jackson. Here’s what we found…
A brief examination of the hotels online guestbook suggests that the Bayerischer Hof is not your typical major city hotel: Sir Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, Samuel L Jackson, Neil Armstrong, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Wladimir Putin, the Dalai Lama, Muhammed Ali, Lionel Messi & Pele make only a slight indent into the hotel’s distinguished book of former room dwellers.
In fact, it was Michael Jackson’s previous visits to the hotel which resulted in one of the most controversial moments following his death in 2009. Aware that the Bayerischer Hof was the King of Pops German retreat his fans constructed a memorial directly outside the hotels entrance. The shrine immediately became a tourist attraction with visitors from all over the world taking a visit and adding to the rapidly expanding memorial. Seemingly not everyone shared in MJs fans sorrow and some Bavarian locals opposed to the shrine began scattering bird food around the memorial ensuring that it was very quickly ravaged and ruined.
7 years later and with ‘MJ-gate’ well and truly forgotten I arrived at the stately building on a sunny Munich day. From the second you walk into the lobby, etched with flamboyance and elegance you instantly feel that you are in a building with a protracted and alluring history. Gold and mink colours drape the room whilst glamorous guests glide across the marble floor. As I check in around glass cabinets housing Tom Ford I remember the artists, royalty and global icons that would have been walking these floors. I make my way through the imposing corridors to my room, which is in fact several rooms. As well as a bedroom I am allocated a separate living area, a separate working area, a separate closet area as well as a spacious bathroom. Delicate carpet holds traditional furniture and ancient Egyptian style art work occupy wall space framed in gold.
After marvelling at the room I embark on an adventure around the building making my first stop at a marvellous Atrium. This is a room for drinking and dining that is built around a large glass dome ceiling cutting directly through the heart of the hotel. Exploring further I make my way through large double doors into what appears to be a ballroom. I was later informed that the room is used predominantly for glittering balls, ceremonial banquets and international congress meetings. I was also told that the glass roof can be removed in minutes creating a spectacular open-air venue.
Walking back into the lobby I notice two women entering the elevator equipped with towels, intrigued I follow them where we soar to the top floor arriving at ‘The Blue Spa.’ Situated high above the Munich skyline, the Blue spa feels like the hotel’s crowning glory. A member of staff tells me how famous it is across Germany, that it occupies four floors and that the luxurious retreat was created by renowned Andree Putman. Amazingly, the swimming pool in the spa is housed by another retractable roof meaning that in the summer the indoor pool becomes an outdoor pool with the flick of a switch. As well as the swimming pool guests can enjoy a Finnish sauna, a classic aroma steam bath, an immersion bath, tanning beds and massages.
Feeling slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of the hotel I make my way past a cinema, restaurant, bars and shops back to the elevator before being invited to check out the hotels nightclub. Continuing the conversation I quickly discovered that it was not a typical Munich night club à la P1 or Harry Kleins; but more a sophisticated bar where international musicians perform to the hotels guests such as Marcus Miller, Pharoah Sanders and Al Jarreau.
Returning to my room after my quick-fire tour I was in awe of the magnificent Bayerischer Hof. It would be very easy for the hotel to rely on it’s magnificent and colourful history to attract new guests. Instead they continue to develop and push the boundaries of luxury and indulgence to ensure they remain one of the world’s very best.
Words by Jack David