STAY in Munich:
Feel like playing pool, multicultural parties and loads of backpackers' advice? Welcome to the Wombat's City Hostel. The trademarked hostels in Vienna, Berlin and Munich combine the yearning and wanderlust of their founders Marcus and Sascha (both vintage 1968). They have experienced and suffered from everything that can possibly assault you on the backpacker's trail: Snoring roommates, disgusting WCs and bedbugs in your sleeping bag. The Wombat's is guaranteed to be different in every aspect except for the potential snorers. It was twice awarded prizes as the cleanest hostel in the world. Otherwise the hostel offers all the advantages of communal living: Cool parties with two (!) happy hours in the womBar, free city tours, one generous breakfast buffet, a chill-out space with hammocks and roofed wicker beach chairs, Internet café and, last but not least, many likeminded comrades that are ready to hit the road from Munich. A spot in a bunk bed costs 12, a double starts at 35 euros per person - off season. Careful when coming during the Oktoberfest, for New Year's Eve or during the high summer season, which is when prices shoot up. With all their love for alternative travelling - even the globetrotting hostelliers have understood the logic of markets.
Whether in the King Ludwig or Empress Sissi room - in this guesthouse kitsch is part of the programme. The baroque furnishing blends in perfectly with the renovated Wilhelminian-style houses around the Gärtnerplatz and the Glockenbachviertel, for many the chief party district in Munich. This is where the creative and individualist, the crazy and rare birds live. The neighbourhood, which used to be something of a gay bastion not so long ago, has turned into a haven for a colourful bunch of people with the highest birth rate in the city! The retrograde flair of the guesthouse, however, should not cover the fact that the guest can expect all the comfort of the (post)modern age, including wireless Internet and satellite TV. Tip: The two tower rooms on the second floor are particularly spacious and therefore ideal for families. Doubles start at 110,- euros a night.
Exclusivity doesn't always mean high prices: : In this middle-range hotel you won't even loose that comfy feeling after a hearty day at the Oktoberfest: On those comfortable water beds it seems difficult to distinguish a slight dizziness from the cosy wobbling of the bed. One thing is certain: Electronic smog cannot be blamed, since you can block off such waves via a cut-off-plug. The charming, privately run place in is located in an upscale neighbourhood near the Theresienwiese, where every year towards the second to last September weekend the Oktoberfest (Wiesn) is happening. Asside from singles and doubles they also have family rooms and apartments without kitchen on offer. In any event, you won't need one, because breakfast is so abundant and the location so central that top Munich restaurants are within walking distance. Tip for parents who are itching to discover Munich's nightlife: The hotel offers a babysitter service. Doubles start at 76,- euros a night.
EAT in Munich:
When Rudi Kull and Albert Weinzierl decided on opening a new Japanese restaurant in the downtown area of Munich the two gastronomers packed their bags and flew to Tokyo. After they had arrived an educated and culturally interested Japanese explained the national cuisine to them. Her name: Emiko. She took them to the noodle shops and cook shops on the streets. But most important were the izakayas, the simple pubs that are frequented by people who come after their work and order some snacks from the extensive menus. What they saw and tasted was translated by Kull and Weinzierl for their own restaurant. And dining follows the sharing principle there, that means: a group orders several dishes and everybody can try out each dish. On the menu you find appetisers like sweet potatoes and soft shell crabs which are dipped in light sauces.
Nomen est omen in this all-in-one pub of the lazy Munich partying crowd. The concept has been the dernier cri in London, Barcelona and New York for years now, yet in Munich it's already bombed once: The famous club Pacha tried in 2003 to cater to its guests over the entire night-out to no avail. Now the VICE has started over with a similar idea, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, a trendy bar and take-away snacks all in one house on three floors. It doesn't matter whether visitors have their croissant with orange juice as a jolly start for the day or as an after-hour morning bite capping full night clubbing. In the VICE everything is permissible, and even the prices for the changing lunch menu are more than fair at 6.90 euros. A few of words to taste: Melon Carpaccio with roasted seafood and honey chilli marinade, or chopped turkey with ruccola olive paste. If only it tastes half as good as it sounds it would go very smoothly, indeed.
Mauro Mahjoub doesn't simply mix drinks. He is a barkeep with heart, soul and lots of spirit, which is what you'll find in his cocktails. The Mauro's Negroni Club is his second enterprise in Munich. Previously the award-winning barista ran the popular bar Negroni with Michele. Mauro has remained true to his successful concept not only by name: Dark wood panelling, light wood flooring and drop-shaped ceiling lights welcome visitor of the bar with a classic design. To drink there is an excellent choice of wines, classic cocktails as well as Mauro's own creations. And despite the fact that you don't come here for the food - smart meals at fair prices such as pasta with salsiccia (sausages) or ossobuco (knuckle of veal) with puree and vegetable help to create a solid foundation to anchor the benevolent spirits.
SHOPPING in Munich:
apartment20 hits the young Munich fashion scene on the head. With so much success, few manage to resist. In this cult shop you find not only top labels such as colcci, Nolita, Sonja Kiefer, BLC, Gaultier, D&G, Dior, Tom Ford and many more. No, it also brings real glamour and metropolitan flair to Schwabing, which sometimes battles a somewhat provincial image. Many, mostly German, celebrities have been seen, including Basti Schweinsteiger, Ricky Martin or Olli and Simone Kahn. Many people don't know that apartment20 is one of the top-selling fashion temples in Europe. Its founders discovered event culture when most others were still decorating shop windows: Before Christmas you can peek at a real Christmas strip on display, and year-round there are live DJ presentations and video installations of aspiring young directors. Tip: Once a month the shop sponsors gay events in the Kloster Club and every fortnight a club night in Two Rooms. Free tickets for these events are available in the shop.
In this cosy concept store you can, with good conscience, stock up on precious things to wear, decorate your house with and pamper yourself. The leitmotif is the principle of sustainability: Furniture from plantation teak wood, or clothes by the Natural Wave Label of shop owner Oliver Wiesent. The fashion is anything but boring. Linen is combined with silk, and the classic natural colours with hearty orange and red. Aside from his own, Wiesent also offers other sustainability labels, such as the Spanish EseOEse & Yerse or the Scandinavian Brittinger. If you want, you can ride on the eco wave right in front of your doorstep, since, aside from fashion, furniture and natural cosmetics, you'll also find kitchen ware, home accessories and handmade semi-precious stone jewellery.
In this shop you find hip fashion for people who enjoy swirling through the air: Snowboarders, surfers, skaters and every one who catches air from one happy cloud to the next. Fans of big street wear labels from the US, Sweden, Iceland, and England won't stop raving about this futuristic-psychedelic room: Behind transparent walls with a flexible shelving systems there are coloured fluorescent tubes that plunge the decidedly ascetic interior into a changing bath of colours. The brands: Analog, Nikita, WESC, DC, Encore, Evisu, B by Burton, Arcus, Insight, Fenchurch, Albin, EVAW, LRG, Quest, Zoo York, Hurley, Vans, and others. Never heard of them? Then it's time to take a look. The colour bath alone is worth a visit!
SIGHTS in Munich:
Nothing may aspire to greater highs than the onion dome of the Frauenkirche - Munich continues to be well-grounded. For comparison: The Cologne Cathedral is almost 160 metres and the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt even 259 metres high. Yet the building regulations have something to be proud of, since from the top of the south tower you have a wonderful view onto the rooftops of Munich as well as the nearby Alps. Construction began in 1468. It must have been conceived as some type of Ark of Bavaria, because the giant building provided room for 20,000 standing people - at a time when Munich, with its 13,000 inhabitants, was really something of a big village. Who knows, maybe some feared the revenge of the devil? He is said to have stomped his foot on the ground, enraged that he had been fooled or out of sheer anger about the imposing house of god. The footprint, complete with a hooked tail, is still visible in the entry hall. Who knows what other mischief Beelzebub is still up to?
For a long time it was the uncontested hip neighbourhood of Munich. Then came (supposedly) the yuppies and drove the artists out. Nevertheless, it continues to be the best place to party. On warm summer nights every one who feels like some fun meets on the steps in front of the Gärtnerplatz theatre or in the green spaces, drinks beer and enjoys the City. If you want you can start your party night with an opera or a musical in the Staatstheater - or simply join one of the many in-bars to warm up for a full night of clubbing. For example the hip Café King, which is located in a former filling station, or the cosy Holy Home. 30 years ago, the Glockenbach was one of the poorest working-class neighbourhoods in Munich, and many apartments stood empty. Then came the artists, lesbians, gays, students and immigrants. In the Mylord rather opposites types such as Freddy Mercury, the Bavarian heavyweight politician Franz Josef Strauß and the filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder had loud parties (even if not necessarily together). The yuppies and real estate speculators have long discovered the district, and many of the crazy birds of former times have been driven out. Some may regret that. Yet it's no reason to ring in the end of alternative culture in Munich.
Imagine you're going to the cinema! You're sitting down on the leather seat but only as soon as the back rest has reached the right position. Then you'll order your dinner directly to your seat and feast until the film starts. In the new Gloria Palace in Munich you'll feel like being in a film even before the film has started. It took four months until the tradition-steeped cinema at the Stachus was completed in December 2012. After all there was a lot to renovate. The Grand Dame of German film, Ilse Kubaschewski, took great pains when she built it - but that's already sixty years ago. The Kinopolis Group therefore looked for a new concept and the first thing they did was cutting down the number of seats to half of the original number. Every guest now receives a welcome drink and a waiter is ready to take your orders in the cinema hall. They installed several separate boxes on the balcony with specially designed sofas and own footrests.