Jun 14, 2010

Travel guide: Munich hot spots

By: Jennifer Weatherhead

Author: Elle Canada

Jun 14, 2010

Travel guide: Munich hot spots

By: Jennifer Weatherhead
People often think about vacationing in Germany, but get caught up in the trendy Berlin scene. Bustling with dapper German business gents and ladies (who could all pass for models, by the way), Munich is equally as charming as it is fanciful. A look around and you'll find nary an unstylish local, plus shops, restos and bars fit for fashion royalty. Here are our top picks for what to see, what to do, and how to be seen in Munich.

Where to stay
When staying in Munich, you'll want to be in the heart of the city so you have easy access to all the shops, pretty town squares, and the best dining. There's nothing better than being able to stroll down the cobblestone streets from your hotel to a chic coffee shop or a fab department store.

The Mandarin Oriental
Feel like royalty by staying at the Mandarin Oriental. With attentive staff and a prime location, the Mandarin feels like a slice of German heaven. Book a comfy and spacious suite that overlooks city rooftops and, on a clear day, provides a view of snow-capped mountains in the distance. And after a day of hitting the shops and dining in heels, the heated floor in the bathroom will be welcoming after a soak in the oversized tub. The Mandarin also boasts a Michelin star resto called Mark's that serves up German fare with an elegant twist. (

The Hotel Bayerischer Hof
Ask anyone in Munich for an amazing spa recommendation and they will immediately say the Blue Spa at the Bayerischer Hof. Ask for an upscale place to get an afternoon cocktail and they'll say the legendary Falk's Bar in the same hotel. What about dinner? Try the Garden Restaurant at the Bayericher Hof. It truly is the center of all things chic in Munich. It's where the sophisticated go for a relaxing break from the hectic day, but to stay at the hotel is even better. With 350 luxurious rooms, this hotel that was opened in 1841 has the ability to be grandeur and feel like home all at the same time. 

What to see
A peek outside your hotel window is more than enough to entice one to get out and explore this quaint city. You could just spend hours strolling the streets and looking at the gorgeous buildings (stopping into all the shops, of course), but there are a few things that you really can't miss while in the city centre.

Marienplatz is the city square that is bustling with locals from the surrounding cafes, but it's also packed full of tourists because of the pretty architecture on the old city hall building which is the focal point. At noon, the bells from the clock tower chime and marionettes dance atop the building. It's a stunning site, but even if you're not nearby at noon, the square is full of life with live classical music being played, choirs singing and vendors selling delish eats.

More to see and where to shop on the next page ...

Munich Residenz

On the eastern side of Marienplatz is the Munich Residenz, which used to be home to Bavarian royalty. Today the palace is a quiet escape from the bustling streets and is home to a number of museums. Take in the sites in one of the 10 courts (we suggest the Fountain Court) or get up to speed on Bavarian culture and art in the museums.

The English Garden
Not far from the city centre is the perfectly primped and pruned English Garden. Bigger than Central Park, you could easily spend a day in here, no matter the season, relaxing in the grass, biking the paths, skating in the winter, and, of course, enjoying a crisp, cool lager at a beer market.

Where to shop
You can always hit the main shopping strip, Maximilianstrasse, which is home to all the designer shops: Gucci, Armani, YSL, plus many, many more. Or you can wander down smaller streets and visit tucked away boutiques with everything from kitschy souvenirs to one-of-a-kind accessories. One street that caught our eye: Reichenbachstr. Be sure to check out Sündhaft ( for luxe German cosmetics and pop into Menu12 ( for funky clothes and accessories -- bonus, you can sip on a cappuccino while you browse, or enjoy it next to the fireplace. If you're looking for something bright and unique, then Angels Inn ( should be on your list of places to shop. Bright neon leggings, denim, oversized sunglasses and tie-dyed tanks fill this store to the brim, and with all that sunny colour it's hard to leave without a smile on your face.

Where to eat/drink
For pre-dinner bevies, Brenner ( is a must. Sip on local German wines, dine on tiny nibbles and people-watch at this uber-trendy restaurant that just so happens to be on the city's designer row -- Maximillianstrasse. With an infusion of traditional German food and Italian, it's also an amazing spot to have dinner, if you can book a table.

The Dallmayr ( is essential for picking up presents for your foodie friends -- grab a coffee and a scone and peruse the delicatessen section filled with sweets, meats and condiments. Don't forget to look at the German wine selection and the odd trinkets.

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Travel guide: Munich hot spots