24-Hour Room Service: The Charles Munich, Germany

Born in Italy, raised in Britain and ennobled by Margaret Thatcher, Charles Forte was one of Britain's greatest hoteliers, yet the hotel that bears his name isn't in Britain or Italy but in Munich. Lord Forte died in February 2007, at the grand old age of 98, and the Charles Hotel is his monument – an Italianate landmark in this Bavarian metropolis that's described by many Germans (and even some Italians) as Italy's most northern city. Charles Forte, who would have celebrated his centenary last November, surely would have approved.

Charles Forte's son, Sir Rocco Forte, opened this hotel in October 2007, a year after his two other German properties, Frankfurt's Villa Kennedy and Berlin's Hotel de Rome. Unlike the other two hotels, the Charles is newly built – yet since I first stayed here, a year ago, it's really bedded in. Built by Munich-born architect Christoph Sattler in cool white stone, with graceful wrought-iron balconies, it blends in well with the older buildings around it, like the 19th-century Justizpalast (Palace of Justice) nearby. As Sattler says, "Architecture does not need to be reinvented every day." If only more modern architects felt that way.

Inside, the house style is similarly discreet. As you'd expect in a five-star hotel, the furnishing is luxurious, but the interior design (overseen by Lord Forte's daughter, Olga Polizzi) is generally low-key. The colour scheme in the bedrooms and corridors is muted. Eating, on the other hand, is a more theatrical affair. With its high ceilings and garden views, the Davvero Restaurant is the perfect place to sample the classic Italian cuisine of resident chef Giovanni Russo (the prosciutto is superb, but be sure to leave room for the pumpkin risotto). Charles Forte's hospitality empire included the defunct Café Royal in London, but he was most famous for his cheaper brands – Travelodge, Little Chef and Happy Eater. It's an amusing irony that his memorial feels so exclusive.

LOCATION

The Charles Hotel, Sophienstrasse 28, Munich, Germany (00 49 89 544 5550; thecharles hotel.com). Tucked away on the corner of Munich's Old Botanical Garden, the hotel feels secluded but it's actually in the heart of the city. The Hauptbahnhof (central station) is just around the corner, and although the streets near the station are hectic and unattractive, a short walk in the opposite direction brings you to several of Germany's finest galleries. Between the three of them, the Alte, Neue and Moderne Pinakothek museums comprise one of the world's great art collections, straddling almost every European master from the Middle Ages to the Weimar Republic. The nearby Lenbachhaus contains a super collection of German Expressionists, in the former home of local artist Franz Lenbach, whose penetrating portraits are also on show in the hotel.

Time from international airport: it's 28km to Munich's Franz Josef Strauss airport. Trains leave every 10 minutes from the Hauptbahnhof, a five-minute walk away. The journey takes 45 minutes. A taxi takes about half an hour and costs around €50 one way.

COMFORTABLE

The bedrooms, even the standard rooms, are very spacious. With 160 rooms, the Charles is a large hotel, but the curved corridors make it feel smaller, and Polizzi's neutral décor is reassuring. The ambience is timeless, rather than ultra-modern; like a lot of the best design, you hardly notice it's there.

Subdued lighting and a subtle palette make the bedrooms supremely relaxing, but the bathrooms are a cut above, with limestone surfaces, terracotta reliefs (designed by Sattler) and local Nymphenburg porcelain around the walls. Most of the rooms have views of the Botanical Garden. However, the communal spaces are rather restricted, with nowhere to hang out apart from the compact lobby bar. The Everyman editions in the bedrooms are a nice touch. What the Charles needs now is its own library.

Freebies: Rocco Forte-branded toiletries and overnight shoeshine. Complimentary pressing service for guests staying in the suites.

Keeping in touch: flat-screen televisions and high-speed broadband in the rooms, Wi-Fi in public areas. The suites have DVD players and iPod docking stations.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Doubles start at €250 room only through Leading Hotels of the World (00 800 2888 8882; lhw.com). Booked direct with the hotel, doubles start at €300, room only.

I'm not paying that: then make tracks for the Hotel Advokat (00 49 8921 6310; hotel-advokat.de), a modern boutique hotel on the other side of the city centre. The rooms are rather small and the facilities are fairly basic, but it's intimate and stylish, and the location (near the River Isar) is superb. Doubles from €145, including breakfast.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
News
i100
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015