More sense of place, in Munich, where Ludwig II of Bavaria, sometimes called the Swan King or der Märchenkönig, was born in 1845. A lonely asthete who was a really good friend of Wagner, he amused himself as an adult by building increasingly-fairytale like castles. Schloss Neuschwanstein, for instance, is on a breathtaking mountaintop site and its interior walls show Disney-like frescoes of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Lohengrin, Parsifal, and the somewhat less than mystic Die Meistersinger. Even Ludwig’s Munich town-house apartment was ‘beautified’, with an ornamental lake complete with skiff, a painted panorama of the Himalayas, an Indian fisher-hut of bamboo, and a Moorish kiosk. (After being certified, King Ludwig was found dead in a lake, aged 40.)
To less exotically-morbid topics… long before 25hours Hotel The Royal Bavarian opened, the brand’s CEO, Christoph Hoffmann, toured Bavaria’s fine historic castles with his chief Brand Officer, Bruno Marti, the Augsburg-based design team DREIMETA. Another key member of this investigative survey was Prof. Dr. Burkhard von Freyberg from Hochschule München/University of Applied Sciences, Fakultät Tourismus. The goal was to produce a luxury hotel for today’s demanding but memory-seeking internationalist, of all ages.
The result, says Girlahead, is a 165-room hotel that Will Not Be Forgotten. It is slap-bang opposite Munich’s main rail station. Reception, on the upper first floor, doubles, in typical 25hours style, as boutique-concept store, and also a display for reconstituted old-fashioned push-key typewriters (there are several to try). Room #438, on the top floor, could be reached by elevators decorated with whimsical inner-lit dolls houses – see above – or via exactly-100 concrete steps, up past concrete walls with graffiti. Upper corridors are a reminder of my grandmother’s house, dark William Morris colours. The room, being dormer, had two big windows at near 45°-angles, vertically (drapes kind-a balloon out): between the windows, a 45° vertical column provided mental awareness not to hit one’s head.
Instead of the usual generic Do Not Disturb sign a spiral-held booklet, with prominent holes to put over handle outside the door, offered such options as, all red, ‘Police crime scene, move on’ and ‘There’s a monster behind this door’ – and, green, come in, ‘Imagine the Rolling stones stayed in the room’ and ‘Remember the movie Hangover? This is worse’. The room came with a Vintage Typewriter, to try, and a recycled Freitag handbag, also possibly to buy. Loved the old-fashioned Bakelite light switches and telephone – and ultra-futuristic pump-pot organic toiletries. The two smaller pillows on the bed had embroidered homilies, ‘Almost Home’, and ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’. I had a complimentary minibar, with snacks and beer, but the main food and drink memories of this hotel were down on the ground floor, and elsewhere.
The Boilerman Bar, leading off reception, is a real meeting place for hotel occupants and locals, and I took 26 spiral stairs from here down to the ground floor, which is all Neni, run by a Vienna-based Israeli family (comedian father, chef mother, four sons). I love their food in Berlin and dining here felt like going home. I went in past a kind of shrine, with fountain, and a sign from J.R.R. Tolkein, ‘Not all those who wander are lost’. The main restaurant is high-ceilinged and upper mirrors seem to expand the space even more. At the far end, over the open kitchen, a blue neon sign says ‘Dositzndedodedooiweidositzn’ which apparently is Bavarian slang for eat like a local. The restaurant was full. I had beetroot hommus, smeared around a WWII enamel bowl and served with hot pita bread, followed by a harissa miso glazed ribeye, on a wood platter with addictive crispy potato skins, and a tall-stemmed glass of 2017 Syrah Gamia Golan Heights in a quality Chef & Sommelier. The bustling, cheery young Bavarian servers, all in blue jeans, were charming and professional. No wonder the place was full.
And breakfast, well, that was totally superlative. It was a first-class buffet – see the video below. I was marvellously looked after by John from Costa Rica, whose main reason for living in Munich appears to be to be able to surf Eisbach every day. Oh what experiences I had here at 25hours Hotel The Royal Bavarian. GM Katherina Klimke, by the way, had also arranged for me to visit and talk with the head brewmaster of Paulaner, whose team brews every single bottle of the various types of Paulaner beer exported worldwide (here, at the brewery, they have an adjacent beer garden that can accommodate up to 10,000 at once). Add that to my experience list.