Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten Munich Review

By Jonathan Spira on 25 July 2010
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When you step off the bustling Maximilianstraße and enter the Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten, you enter a time capsule, one that places you inside one of the grand old hotels of Europe.

Once in the salon-style lobby, which features a mosaic glass roof portraying the four seasons (the hotel’s name, Vier Jahreszeiten, means Four Seasons), you could bump into royalty: former guests include Empress Elisabeth of Austria (known to her subjects as “Sissi”), the King of Siam, and Winston Churchill.  Today, the Vier Jahrezeiten is the temporary home for heads of state, royalty, and the discerning business traveler.


Built in 1858 at the behest of Kaiser Maximilian II. (after whom the street out front is named), the Vier Jahreszeiten is, appropriately enough, near the Residenz, the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach royal family of Bavaria and a central point in Munich’s Altstadt (old city).

Indeed, it’s one of the most perfectly situated hotels I’ve visited as it’s less than 500 meters from the National Theater (home of the Bavarian State Opera, State Ballet, and State Orchestra) and English Garten, as well as from Marienplatz (the main pedestrian zone shopping street) and the Rathaus (city hall).  The Maximilianstraße itself features arcades and individual, elegant shops where one can walk amongst the Schickeria (Munich’s chic crowd).  Indeed, this is the place to purchase Schiki-micki (trendy goods).  Excellent public transportation is also near by.


The hotel was expanded from 180 to 340 rooms in time for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.  A €13.8 million renovation was completed two years ago; the 42 rooms with  views of the Maximilianstraße were the first to be redone.  The hotel currently offers a total of 303 rooms including 65 suites.

My generously-sized Deluxe Junior Suite (50 sqm), one of the rooms already renovated, was both comfortable and green (for example, the air conditioning turns off if one opens a window).  Furnishings and décor were both modern with elements of traditional charm– a difficult feat to pull off but one that works quite well here. The room featured a copy of a masterpiece from the Alte Pinakothek, which had been photographed and then installed as wallpaper onto walls, giving many rooms their own Rubens or van Dyck.

The bed was exceptionally comfortable.  I fell asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow and awakened early the next morning feeling completely refreshed.

Technology was everywhere although I would prefer a less complicated and more clearly marked system to turn the room lights on and off.  On the other hand, to enter the room, all I had to do was wave the contactless key in front of the lighted sensor and turn the handle.   Once inside, pressing the green LED button on the door from the inside locked the door and the LED turned red.

My room included a very comfortable sitting area and 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, which itself is heated so it doesn’t fog.

While many hotels now offer heated floors in the bath area, this was the first room I ever encountered to have a heated floor in the shower stall.


When the hotel first opened in 1858, it boasted state-of-the-art technology including gas lighting in all of the rooms.  Today, rooms boast fast – albeit expensive, at €21.80/day – Internet (I clocked it at over 2 Mbps) and excellent (electrical) lighting to read by.  The desk and work area, including chair, were quite comfortable.
The Cherubin ballroom (one of several meeting rooms) can accommodate up to 500 people in a meeting.  There are several other rooms that can accommodate a group of 10 to 150 attendees.

The spa features a pool, sauna, steam bath, ice fountain, and grotto shower and the gym offers superb views of the city while one pumps iron.


As a child, I stayed at the Vier Jahreszeiten many times with my family and, since we usually visited Munich in August, a month during which the hotel’s restaurant, the Walterspiel (named after a former hotel director), was always closed, I never had the chance to eat there.  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 from a menu by Chef Sven Büttner, who uses many local and regional products in his dishes.

I’ve found the English-style Vier Jahreszeiten Bar an ideal place to relax with friends after an evening out on the town.  A pianist plays a variety of music every evening.

During my most recent visit, due to an early morning meeting, I chose to have breakfast in my room and enjoyed wonderful fresh-baked croissants, rolls, and pastries with yogurt, freshly-squeezed carrot juice mixed with apple juice, and coffee – all while looking out onto the Maximilianstraße from my window.


The Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten’s Web site promises  guests Munich cordiality and discreet luxury mixed with “trendition”, a portmanteau that combines the words “trend” and “tradition.”  In addition to delivering on this promise, the Vier Jahreszeiten also combines superb accommodations and a staff that quietly meets every guest’s needs, making it a hotel I will return to again and again.

Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten
Maximilianstraße 17
80539 Munich

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