Commissioned by the eccentric, violin-playing British aristocrat Mary Isabel Portman as an English country-style retreat, this early 20th-century manor house is a distinct anomaly in Munich’s hotel scene. Constructed in 1915 by Detmar Blow, with an interior by British designer Ilse Crawford, the building now contains 131 rooms (including one tree house and one gatehouse), a sleek wood spa, a rustic restaurant, and a huge bathhouse with pools and saunas galore. The 31 rooms in the historic Mary Portman House, inspired by the British arts and crafts movement, are modern and chic, with vibrant color schemes, designer lamps, canary-yellow chesterfield sofas and specially designed wallpaper from Timorous Beasties. The more recently added 98-room annex, designed by Edinger Fischbach and Partners’ Heinz Pedrini and Martin Aufschnaiter, has a more traditional country house feel, with lots of light woods and glass (including see-through bathrooms) and a minimalist Scandinavian design aesthetic.
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The hotel is really a destination in itself, but there’s plenty to do in the vicinity. The valley that the hotel sits in can be explored in all seasons—by foot or bike in summer, and with cross-country skis or snowshoes in winter. And longer hikes are available too, such as a three-hour stroll up to the flamboyant King’s House on Schachen, which was built for King Ludwig II and enjoys an impressive location on a plateau overlooking Garmisch. The fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein is about a 90-minute drive from the hotel, and you can also visit nearby Linderhof castle, which was completed and inhabited by King Ludwig II himself. Golfers can get their swing on at any one of 18 golf courses within an hour’s drive of the hotel (and get a 20 percent discount at the Hotel Karwendel’s course nearby).
Need to Know
Rooms: 131 rooms, from $180. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: As well as a generous gourmet breakfast, the hotel offers a lunch buffet, tea and cakes at mid-afternoon, and a five-course dinner menu. The restaurant focuses on “fresh and light” food with an emphasis on regional and seasonal produce. The food is delicious, but so are the views, which span the scenic Karwendel and Wetterstein mountain ranges. After dinner, the hotel bar’s log fires and George Nelson lanterns will enhance your post-prandial relaxation. Spa and gym details: The spring-fed spa is one of the main reasons to come here. Spanning five pools, a half-dozen saunas and steam baths, and 25 treatment rooms that offer a full range of services—including Ayurveda, Detox, and special treatments for couples—you could spend weeks here; and some do. In addition, the Finnish and Bio saunas have panoramic mountain views, and there is a separate spa-sauna for women.
Who it’s for: Those really wanting to get away from it all—although since the hotel doesn’t allow children, it is not suitable for families. Our favorite rooms: Guests traveling in small groups can have the log fireplace and modern, crisp white interiors of the English Gatehouse building all to themselves, while still being linked to the hotel’s main building thanks to a subterranean staircase. Local bees: Try the honey that’s served at breakfast. It’s produced in the meadows above the hotel, where the bees have a limitless supply of wildflowers untainted by city pollution.