Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Germany, is known for many things, not least of all its proximity to some of the most spectacular destinations in Bavaria and neighboring Austria. Salzburg, although ancient, has been made famous as the setting for The Sound of Music.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a little more than two hours north of Munich, is a charming walled town that is arguably one the most authentic nods to medieval Europe. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, just over the Austrian border, had a tainted connection to the Third Reich as the locale for the 1936 Olympics and Nazi military hospital center during World War II, but has emerged as one of Germany’s premier destinations for hiking, skiing and biking.
And, of course, Dachau, the first, and the model for all subsequent, concentration camps under the Nazi regime. This sobering destination, which will result in the need for some serious downtime, is perhaps the most important history lesson you’ll ever learn. Read: Don’t think twice about it.
Munich itself is a study in contrasts. Largely destroyed during World War II, its history is a reflection of the larger saga of Bavaria. Grand, imposing, dark, and mysterious, every turn of the Old Town reveals another chapter of this iconic hub of politics, commerce, fashion, and fancy. You’ll want a good guide and a great pair of walking shoes to take it all in. Book Mathew Ian Bruffell (firstname.lastname@example.org) with plenty of notice. An expert on Munich, Bavaria, the Third Reich, and the entire Alpine region, Mat’s enthusiasm and passion astounds.
Ask Mat about one new attraction you simply can’t miss: the new Munich Documentation Center. This dumb-founding display focuses on the history and consequences of the Nazi regime and the role of Munich as Hauptstadt der Bewegung, “capital of the movement.” Plan on four hours or more, and then head straight to a beer hall. You’ll want a drink.
Already exhausted by your options? Start with the basics and book your stay at The Charles Hotel, one of the jewels in the Rocco Forte crown. Located in a unusually quiet district of the city, and nestled between the Old Botanical Garden, the Karlsplatz and the Königsplatz, the Charles Hotel is the ideal starting point for both business and private travelers.
At once both modern and harkening to the heady days of this center of the modern world, The Charles Hotel is decked out in quiet natural colors and noble woods and natural stones of traditional Bavarian origin, but offset by offbeat sculpture, paintings, and photography by talented locals
In keeping with the theme of contrasts, the hotel exudes a con- temporary vibe while maintaining its mantle of grand: The rooms are, well, roomy, with most looking over the Botanical Gardens; some of the most stately structures of the city; and, on a clear day, the imposing Alps.
Bathrooms complement the beautiful rooms, and one of our fa- vorite touches was the bath amenities, Irene Forte Skincare, created by Irene Forte, the wellness director of Rocco Forte Hotels and Sir Rocco Forte’s daughter. Squirrel away a handful of these to take home with you!
If spreading out is your jam, book the Royal Monforte Suite on the eighth floor. Distinguished by its open concept, its bedroom, living and dining room, working area, and fully equipped kitchen are all made even more attractive by a separate private entrance and extra security.
The Charles Spa is a welcome respite after a day of walking the city or local environs, and features indoor pool, heated loungers, steam bath, sauna, wellness showers, and a relaxation room. Want to move some more? A well-appointed gym and private training sessions (Pilates, tai chi, or yoga) will wear you out. Massages, facials, and body treatments featuring Irene Forte Skincare or Cellcosmet products from Switzerland are divine.
Perhaps the property’s pièce de résistance is Sophia’s Restaurant and Bar. The Michelin starred chef Michael Hüsken heads up a bril- liant team who stress the importance of regional and seasonal prod- ucts with some guest appearances from more exotic flavors and in- gredients. This is Germany, so think the best meats; the freshest fish; and local vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs. From roasted Arctic char with soubise sauce and sweet and sour onions to duck breast with carrot ginger puree, wild broccoli, and tamarind jus . . . as is typical in Germany, you will likely pass out from food before drink.
Whether it’s your jumping off-point, your all-in history lesson, or a combo of the two, Munich is among the best of the best in Europe. It’s made all the better by being host to one of the most impressive of all the Rocco Forte properties: The Charles Hotel.