Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten Munich
Walking into the Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten from the bustling Maximilianstraße is like stepping into a time capsule, but one that places you inside one of the grand old hotels of Europe.
Whether royalty [former guests include Empress Elisabeth of Austria (“Sissi”), the King of Siam, and Winston Churchill] or business traveler, the salon-style lobby of the 1858-built hotel, which features a mosaic glass roof portraying the four seasons, beckons.
WHERE IS IT?
Built at the behest of King Maximilian II., The Vier Jahreszeiten is, appropriately enough, near the Residenz, the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach royal family of Bavaria, a central point in the Altstadt (old city). It’s less than 500 meters from the National Theater and Englisher Garten, as well as from Marienplatz (the main pedestrian shopping zone) and the Rathaus (city hall). The Maximilianstraße features arcades and individual and elegant shops where one can walk amongst the Schickeria (Munich’s chic crowd). Indeed, this is the place to purchase Schiki-micki (trendy goods).
The hotel was expanded from 180 to 340 rooms in time for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. A €13.8 million renovation was recently completed; the 42 rooms with a view of the Maximilianstraße were the first to be redone.
My room, which had been renovated, was both comfortable and green (for example, the air conditioning turns off if one opens the windows). Furnishings and décor were both modern and had traditional charm at the same time – a difficult feat to pull off but one that works quite well here (see photo of desk area for an example). The rooms include copies of works from the Alte Pinakothek, which were photographed and then installed as wallpaper onto walls in the guest rooms giving every room its own Rubens or van Dyck.
To enter the room, all I had to do was wave the contactless key in front of the lighted sensor and turn the handle.
My room included a very comfortable sitting area; the sleeping area could be cordoned off by curtains, making the room a perfect place for meetings. Many rooms (including mine) feature a small high-tech television built into the bathroom mirror.
ROAD WARRIOR SUPPORT
When the hotel first opened in 1858, it boasted state-of-the-art technology such as gas lighting in all rooms. Today, rooms boast fast – and free – Internet (I clocked it at over 2 Mbps) and excellent (electrical) lighting to read by. Desk and work area, including chair, were quite comfortable.
I stayed at the Vier Jahreszeiten many times with my family and, since we usually visited Munich in August, the hotel’s restaurant, the Walterspiel (named after a former hotel director), was always closed for the month. A new restaurant, aptly named Restaurant VUE Maximilian, has replaced the Walterspiel, and treats patrons to a view of the splendor of the Maximilianstraße while dining on a menu from chef Sven Büttner, who uses mainly regional products in his dishes.
The MaxPrivate Vinobar is perfect for private gatherings, in the cellar of the hotel. I was lucky enough to attend two events there in the past two years although, at the time this review is being published, the Vinobar had been shuttered.
The Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten calls it “the first address for discerning travelers” and my stays here, which go back to travels with my parents when I was growing up, confirm that this is indeed the case.
Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.