STAY in Munich:
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.
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.
Wilhelmine architecture meets avant-garde design, paired with a pinch of French lifestyle. The hotel Sofitel Bayerpost is a five-star hotel with aha experience. If you head for the heritage-protected building with its venerable façade, you will be surprised inside - by finding contemporary design at its best. In the magnificent lobby, 396 rooms and the famous Nymphenburg banquet hall, the guest finds modern classics of furniture design, simple shapes and quiet colours. The in-house restaurant Schwarz & Weiz impresses on three floors with exciting architecture and a tasteful trip through the Bavarian gourmet cuisine with French accents. Sophie's Bistro serves daily specials from the lava stone grill with ingredients fresh from the market - in summer also on the terrace.
SIGHTS in Munich:
The greatest treasures of art history are on display. We just need to open our eyes, pause for a moment and marvel. Let's start our tour with the Alte Pinakothek: You can admire more than 700 masterpieces of European artists from the 14th to the 18th centuries are on display, including famous ones such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Dürer, Rubens, and Rembrandt. Head on to the Neue Pinakothek, a unique collection of European art from neo-classicism up to art nouveau, the romantic Caspar David Friedrich, impressionists like Manet and Monet or the pioneer of expressionism, Vincent Van Gogh. Finally the Pinakothek der Moderne, which, in reality, is four in one: Visual arts, graphic arts, architecture and design of the 20th and 21st centuries under one roof, one of the biggest and most surprising museums of its kind worldwide. Art is not simply hung on the walls. It turns into a happening, something that is searching for a dialogue with the observer. In the Neue Sammlung of the design museum you can sail from time island to time island, docking at the avant-gardes of the 20s and 30s, dropping by the Pop Art design of the 60s and experience post modernism and purism.
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.
It doesn't always have to be Neuschwanstein Castle. But a little bit of castle is inevitable, and at least you can reach Nymphenburg by tram. The magnificent palace is just as much part of the Bavarian identity as beer and pretzels. The castle owes its existence to a happy occasion: The birth of Elector Ferdinand Maria's and his wife Adelaide of Savoy's heir to the throne in 1664. At the time, Munich was truly a village, and Nymphenburg was so far out on the countryside that it served as a summer residence. In the course of the years it was changed according to the prevailing style. Today, walls and ceilings are for the most part covered with extravagant baroque paintings. For its inhabitants the Nymphenburg Palace was much more than a castle to show off with. It was a place of life, love and birth - i.e. that of the famous Fairy Tale King Ludwig II in a bedroom that is open to visitors. Another attraction is the beauty gallery of King Ludwig I., which immortalized the most beautiful Munich women of his time. Today, maybe the most striking thing is the enchanting palace garden with its lakes, canals and water fountains.
EAT in Munich:
The Bräuhäuser (brewery halls) are part of Munich like the Guinness venues are of Dublin. On both sides you simply cannot pass them up. And you shouldn't, really: After all, the beer mug banging, weißwürschtel (Bavarian sausage) eating and six Maß (one litre of beer) in front of the bosom Bavarian way of life is more than just a cliché. Indeed, the Lederhosen (leather trousers) were already an emblem of Munich long before the laptop was invented. And nowhere can you experience this slice of Munich life better than in the Weisse Bräuhaus, the oldest wheat beer brewery in Bavaria. Parking is limited, so tourist busses only show up occasionally, which is why it's not overly packed. Whether you'll have, with your freshly brewed beer, a g'scheide Brotzeit (i.e. black and white collared pork in vinegar and oil, or homemade Obazda, a Bavarian cheese speciality), or even originally Bavarian vegetarian food (homemade Reiberdatschi - potato pancakes - with sauerkraut and apple sauce), this will only be one of the most beautiful pastimes in the world.
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:
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.
The success story of Pool began in the mid-1990s when the two managers Cambis Sharegh and Pete Hannewald opened a small store on Müllerstraße. By now there are four stores based in Munich and the online store verypoolish.com - which was founded in 2009 and is worshipped by fashion lovers - that rate among the business family. Pool offers a variety of hip designers like Julius, Maison Michel Paris and Neil Barrett. Apart from high fashion for women and men there is also a sophisticated and cosmopolitan assortment of decorative home accessories, lifestyle and beauty products. The look of Pool is cool and sexy. And that does not come by chance. Co-owner Cambis Sharegh is a known house DJ with gigs in international clubs in Munich, Berlin, London and Cape Town. Furthermore he is a music producer with his own record label. Thus, it's not surprising that Pool is also a trendy address for CDs and vinyl and they also organise parties and events.
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!