24-Hour Room Service

Mandarin Oriental, Munich
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

I got a shock when arriving at the Mandarin Oriental in Munich for the first time. Pulling up at the marble-clad entrance in a rental car, I was met by a doorman who not only whisked the driver's door open with a flourish, but also greeted me by name. I had never met him before, or stayed at the hotel, and had picked my Ford up at the airport an hour previously. How did he know my name?

I got a shock when arriving at the Mandarin Oriental in Munich for the first time. Pulling up at the marble-clad entrance in a rental car, I was met by a doorman who not only whisked the driver's door open with a flourish, but also greeted me by name. I had never met him before, or stayed at the hotel, and had picked my Ford up at the airport an hour previously. How did he know my name?

I asked this question of the receptionist, but she just smiled enigmatically. Given that this is the place where celebrities such as Claudia Schiffer, Michael Jackson and the Prince of Wales stay when visiting the Bavarian capital, it was nice to receive special treatment.

Until last year, when it was taken over by Mandarin Oriental, this was the Rafael. A boutique hotel tucked in a side-street behind the Marienplatz, the city's central square, as with many lovely city hotels, you could walk past it hardly even suspecting it was there. And fortunately the new owners haven't changed a thing - except for inserting a Mandarin "fan" logo outside the entrance. The white stone exterior hardly hints at the neo-classical charms inside. In the triangular lobby, which feels like the hall of a particularly grand private house, there are elegant flower arrangements and antique chairs and cupboards dotted around and, sometimes, the sound of a trio playing Beethoven wafting from above, the musicians sitting on an open mezzanine.

The gem is on the rooftop, where an outdoor pool and terrace lined by exotic plants face a view of staggering beauty on a clear morning, as the whole northern façade of the Alps, glaciers shimmers from 30 miles away. The spiky, forested outcrops housing Berschtesgarten, Hitler's mountain hideaway, loom to the east. However, when I was there the view was usually limited to the city's green and grey spires glistening in the rain.

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

The Mandarin Oriental is at Neuturmstrasse 1, Munich, Germany (0049 89 290980, www.mandarinoriental.com). In the heart of the city's elegant shopping district, it's a short walk from most of the famous beer halls.

Time to international airport: Munich's Franz Josef Strauss airport is 25km out of town; there is an efficient airport bus to the downtown terminal, after which you can walk (20 mins) or take the subway (10 mins).

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

I had a small bedroom with restful, parchment-papered walls and a TV incongruously nestling inside an antique wooden wardrobe, and a living room with a powder-blue sofa, a marble bar-table and some ornate Chinese vases. It was all blissfully quiet - except on the first morning, when I forgot to hang up my "Do Not Disturb" sign and the room was invaded, after a cursory knock, shortly after 8am by a large woman bearing a vacuum cleaner who looked at my crumpled, bed-ridden form pityingly.

Staying in touch: There were four phones in the room, an ISDN-line for high speed modems, and two multi-channel TVs.

Freebies: A wonderful bowl of fresh, tropical flowers didn't wilt at all for three days, but they would probably have suffered on the plane journey home.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Standard double rooms from 610DM (£198) a night.

I'm not paying that: The quiet, family-run Hotel Adria (00 49 89 293 081) nearby has rooms from 200DM (£65).

Comments