Although often referred to by its older name—the Rafael—the Mandarin Oriental has been operating under its new name and ownership since 2000. Set into part of a medieval city wall, the hotel takes its history seriously, greeting visitors with a lobby and reception area that features two grand staircases (one dating from 1800) and Biedermeier-style furniture.
The rooms are no less ostentatious, with elegant gold and cream color schemes, cherrywood desks, Italian marble floors, and bathrooms large enough to have walk-in showers as well as deep tubs. Fine-art prints and etchings hug the walls, and the tasteful yet trendy amenities include Bang & Olufsen flat-screen TVs, Bose docking stations, and yoga mats.
Most rooms have views of the city’s red roofs, but the apartment-sized suites have dedicated balconies overlooking the city and up on the roof you’ll find a fabulous spa, as well as a terrace with its own garden and heated pool.
The reception area, lounge, and restaurant will be closed for renovations from January 26 through September 1, 2015, with ongoing work Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests may enjoy meals at the restaurant on the third floor or via 24-hour room service. The new restaurant, the Matsuhisa, Munich will open in November.
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With the Bavarian Opera House, the Marienplatz, and the Maximilianstrasse (Munich’s Fifth Avenue) all in striking distance, it’s safe to say that the hotel’s location in the Altstadt is as good as it gets. For drinks and general revelry, the legendary Hofbrauhaus beer hall is right next door, and for coffee and cakes head to the legendary Dallmayr coffeehouse-delicatessen. For a mix of food and culture, try the Oskar Maria brasserie at the Munich Literature House.
Need to Know
Rooms: 73 rooms, from $567. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The buffet breakfast is generous, to say the least, ranging from champagne and eggs to pancakes and Bavarian pretzels. Restaurant Mark serves Michelin-starred Asian-infused Mediterranean dishes, including a six-course menu that can be paired with wine. The eighth-floor China Moon Roof, also Asia-inspired, has 360-degree panoramas of the city. The hotel also serves afternoon tea, and light meals can be taken on the roof terrace near the pool in warmer weather. Spa & gym details: There is a small but well-equipped fitness room with a Turkish sauna and steam bath.
Who it’s for: Refined types who are seeking five-star class and who are willing to pay for it. Our favorite room: Room 608, a favorite of Prince Charles, features a Rapunzel-style sitting-room turret. Munich on two wheels: The hotel rents out Mercedes-Benz bicycles for free. It’s a great way to explore the city.