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Business Travel Guide: Munich, Germany

Munich, the city of beer halls, baroque churches, Olympic Park, and Oktoberfest—right? Right! But that’s only part of the story. Beyond its folkloric image, Munich is an economic power player and Germany’s leading commercial center. Once at the heart of a largely agricultural region, the Bavarian state capital is now a prime purveyor of cars, electronics, insurance services, information technology and lots of other dynamic 21st century industries. Microsoft, Burger King, BMW, Siemens—the list of companies based here is as long as a Dostoyevsky novel. The modern trade fairgrounds alone lure some two million visitors each year. Lederhosen and laptops: What would seem paradoxical anywhere else is the day-to-day reality in this charming, culturally rich city.


Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency: Euro

Cash in Munich is the euro, which became Germany's official currency in 2002. Divided into 100 cents, the euro comes in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 notes and one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. ATMs are ubiquitous. Most business hotels exchange dollars and other major currencies, although rates are better at banks or currency exchange offices—even those at the airport or main train station. Many restaurants and shops do not accept credit cards; if they do, a minimum purchase is often required.

Transportation:

Germany's second-largest airport, the mega-modern Munich International is about 19 miles northeast of the city center. It has repeatedly received accolades for its efficiency, ease of transit, facilities and ground transportation. You’ll arrive at one of two terminals linked by the central Munich Airport Center (MAC), a spectacularly designed hall with shops, restaurants, car rental offices, meeting and business facilities, ATMs and other services. Cabs to downtown or the trade fairgrounds cost about €50, although the Lufthansa Airport Bus and commuter trains S1 and S8 are excellent—and more budget friendly—alternatives. Both bus and trains depart every twenty minutes and make the trip to the main train station in about 45 minutes with several stops along the way. From here, cabs will whisk you to your hotel or other final destination. During some trade shows, direct shuttle bus service to the fairgrounds may be available.

Limousine and private car services are also available, but these usually need to be pre-arranged. Munich also boasts an efficient subway system, called the U-Bahn, which connects to the airport via the S8 train and to stations and routes across the city. Single trip tickets and day passes are available for €4.80 and €2.20, respectively.

Newspapers:

Munich’s main daily newspaper is the respected Süddeutsche Zeitung, which is also widely read in other parts of Germany. Its Monday edition includes the 16-page New York Times International Weekly supplement. Other local newspapers are the Münchener Merkur and the Abendzeitung. The best source for general business news is the Handelsblatt, while the Börsen-Zeitung focuses more on international financial market news. WirtschaftsWoche is the leading weekly business magazine. For entertainment listings, turn to Go München, Prinz or In München. The English-language monthly Munich Found also has some good local information. USA Today, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal Europe and Financial Times are among the English-language papers widely sold in hotels and at newsstands.

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Where to Stay

Mandarin Oriental Munich
Neuturmstrasse 1
49-89-290 980
www.mandarinoriental.com

A Madarin Exclusive room at the Mandarin Oriental, Munich, in Germany

This ultra-posh contender is tangible proof that size truly doesn’t matter. Its 48 spacious rooms and 25 suites translate to a sense of intimacy that’s perhaps the hotel’s greatest asset. Staff here delivers superb, personalized service that will make you wonder whether they’ve been trained as mind readers. Unhurried and discrete, this is the perfect place for small, high-powered meetings held in richly appointed salons filled with natural light and equipped with the full range of high-tech gadgets. After a day of inking deals, you can unwind at the room's large desk while sipping complimentary libations from the mini-bar. With their heated floors and separate tub and shower, the marble baths make indulgent sanctuaries. In summer, you can swim laps in the rooftop pool with a view. When hunger strikes you’ll savor palate-pleasing cuisine at Restaurant Mark’s, the property's gourmet restaurant. The hotel’s central location near the Hofbräuhaus and the Maximilianstrasse puts you within strolling distance of plenty more upscale dining and entertainment options.

Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten
Maximilianstrasse 17
49-89-212 50
www.kempinski-vierjahreszeiten.com

For a full-scale immersion in Old European grandeur, you’ll find no finer hotel than this grand dame of Munich caravanserais. She has a pedigree going back 150 years, but thanks to multiple facelifts she’s still a ravishing beauty in the 21st century. The distinguished lobby with its kaleidoscopic glass dome is perfect for afternoon tea and people watching. The hotel boasts a guest list that includes blockbuster celebrities, leading politicians and crowned heads—you never know who’ll be sashaying by. Business guests have a choice of ten conference rooms that include the stunning Nymphenburger Zimmer, decked out in handmade porcelain tiles, vases and figurines. Several bars and restaurants, an exclusive spa and a prestigious location near the former royal palace are just a few additional assets that have made the 308-room Vier Jahreszeiten a top choice for generations of demanding guests.

Sofitel Bayerpost München
Bayerstrasse 12
49-89-599 480
www.sofitel.com

“You can’t judge a book by its cover” might well be the motto of the city’s newest five-star entry in an convenient location adjacent to the main train station. The neo-Renaissance façade seems to herald old-fashioned charm, but past the entrance awaits a hotel vibrant with cosmopolitan charm. The lavish lobby welcomes you with an intricate lighting design and a clever mix of natural wood, leather, and stone. Orbiting this space are the bar, a reading lounge, two restaurants and a sensuous spa guaranteed to reinvigorate you after a long day of meetings. These might be held in one of twenty conference rooms, the largest of which can accommodate up to 800 people. The exclusive board rooms, each with private lounge and kitchen, are tailor-made for smaller power gatherings. For deep and satisfying sleep, a loft suite on the top floor offers distant views of the snow-capped Alps through vast slanted windows.

Bayerischer Hof
Promenadeplatz 2-6
49-89-212 00
www.bayerischerhof.de

It may seem improbable, but the Dalai Lama, Neil Armstrong and Paris Hilton all have one thing in common: Each has checked in at this venerable hotel, along with scores more of the rich and famous. The Bayerischer Hof has provided the utmost in luxury shelter since opening its doors in 1841 as a guesthouse for the royal Bavarian family. These days, you can match your mood to five room styles, including the romantic Laura Ashley, the boldly colored Colonial and the cozy English Country. All 395 guest chambers come with all the trimmings and upscale touches you’d expect. With more than three dozen public rooms able to accommodate groups from seventeen to an astonishing 2500 people, the hotel is a great place for business meetings. Helping guests to unwind is taken very seriously here. Choose from three restaurants and no fewer than six bars, including the mirrored falk’s bar—the only room that survived World War II without a scratch.

Le Méridien
Bayerstrasse 41
49-89-242 20
www.munich.lemeridien.com


Situated across from the main train station and within easy reach of the trade fairgrounds and the city center, Le Méridien is a stylish slice of France in the heart of Munich. An ambience of effortless sophistication permeates the lobby, whose edgy look segues nicely into the 381 guest rooms and suites. Hi-tech fans will rejoice at amenities that include a large plasma TV, dual phone lines and high-speed Internet access. The commercial set can choose from ten corporate meeting rooms, the largest of which can accommodate 250 people. Good post-work stress busters are Le Potager, a French restaurant where you can relax in the leafy courtyard in summer; the futuristic La Traction bar with its vehicle-themed décor; and the oh-so-soothing Le Spa, whose relaxation stations include a pool, Jacuzzi and steam bath.


Where to Dine

Tantris
Johann-Fichte-Strasse 7
49-89-361 9590
www.tantris.de
Open lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday
Three-course business lunch €62, eight-course dinner €140, wine extra
19/20
$$$$$ 

 

Food fanciers with deep pockets have given this gourmet emporium an enthusiastic thumbs-up since 1971—and for good reason. Not unlike a circus ringmaster, Chef Hans Haas directs his kitchen with authority and aplomb. His formula is deceptively simple: Take only the freshest, choicest ingredients and turn them into multi-course culinary celebrations that never fail to impress. Entries such as broiled lamb with eggplant chutney and black olive noodles are typical of Tantris’ innovative approach. Plates are delivered to linen-draped tables set in a sienna-red dining room or, in summer, the flower-festooned garden terrace. The three-course business lunch is a perfect palate teaser. To truly sample Haas’ creative genius, go for the full eight-course dinner. And be sure to ask master sommelière Paula Bosch to help you select the perfectly matching wine.

Acquarello
Mühlbaurstrasse 36
49-89-470 4848
www.acquarello.com
Open lunch Monday to Friday, dinner nightly
Most main courses around €30

17/20
$$$$$

 

Your taste buds will do cartwheels at what is widely considered to be one of Munich’s finest Italian restaurants. Driven by a passion for food, owner-chef Mario Gamba regales diners with what he has poetically termed “cucina del sole” (cuisine of the sun), which translates into nuanced dishes intended to appeal to all five senses. There’s no pizza in sight at this elegant place—nor are there empty tables, so make a point of booking ahead. The appealing décor sets the stage for the theatrically presented food served to a discerning clientele that includes a number of local business patrons, especially at lunchtime. Try the signature brassato al Barolo, or beef cheeks braised in blood-red Barolo wine. For a flawless finish to a fabulous meal, order the chocolate ravioli on orange coulis with peppermint ice cream.

Schuhbecks in den Südtiroler Stuben
Platzl 6 & 8
49-89-216 6900
www.schuhbeck.de
Open lunch Tuesday to Saturday, dinner Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday
Menus from €73 (for three courses)
17/20
$$$$$


Alfons Schuhbeck’s cuisine is a perfect introduction to Bavarian food for those who think they don’t like Bavarian food. Here, classics like roast pork or veal knuckle are reinterpreted as slimmed-down, healthier versions that sacrifice nothing in terms of texture or flavor. It’s an approach that has resonated with diners and critics—and has also garnered Schuhbeck countless toques. This, plus regular appearances on television and even a stint of cooking at the White House have accorded him the status of celebrity chef. Celebrities are frequently spotted in his new restaurant, which opened in 2003 in the old town center along with a cooking school, an ice cream parlor, a spice shop and a wine bistro.

Hippocampus
Mühlbaurstrasse 5
49-89-4702 7187
www.hippocampus-restaurant.de
Open lunch Sunday to Friday, dinner daily
Most mains around €20
16/20
$$$$$

 

“Hippocampus” refers to that part of the brain where information is transferred into memory—and meals here are memorable indeed. Owner-chef Cosimo “Mimmo” Ruggiero delivers a unique blend of home cooking and haute cuisine that represents perfect fusion of substance and style. Filet mignon with stuffed Savoy cabbage and osso buco with polenta croutons are just two of the inspired creations that make loyal customers swoon. Seriously clued-in patrons, though, don’t even bother with the menu. They simply leave it to Mimmo to showcase his talent as he sees fit. The dining room, decked out in chocolate-colored chairs and vanilla table cloths, is an elegant affair. In summer, however, the tables on the romantic garden terrace are coveted.

Lenbach
Ottostrasse 6
48-89-549 1300
www.lenbach.de
Open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Mon-Sat, closed Sunday
Most main dishes €13-24
 15/20
$$$$$

Trendy Lenbach is the kind of place where the food gets serious competition from the décor. British design maven Sir Terence Conran married the elegance of a 19th century town palace with contemporary design inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins. The bar (the longest in town), which is dedicated to Adultery, is backed by a painting of embracing nudes. Vanity is represented by a catwalk that cuts through the restaurant, while the facilities pay homage to Wrath with their diabolical colors. One sin that’ll prove hard to resist is Gluttony: The food here is simply too good. Fusion really shines in Maik Haltenbach’s kitchen, which churns out ambitious combinations such as scallops with grape-and-mustard pesto or sautéed frog legs with curried chickpeas. If you want to sup with Munich’s jet set, or simply spot the occasional celebrity, Lenbach is the place.

Käfer Schänke
Prinzregentenstrasse 73
www.feinkost-kaefer.de
Open 11.30 a.m.-1 a.m. Mon-Sat, closed Sunday
Most main dishes €20-30
 15/20
$$$$$

This family-owned restaurant has come a long way since its modest 1930 beginnings as a deli and liquor store. It has since evolved into a fine food emporium that today incorporates a shop, a catering service and a bistro-style restaurant. A recent makeover catapulted the décor of the latter into the 21st century to make it a great destination if you fancy superior cuisine in a stylish but casual setting. The extensive menu hopscotches around the world with stops in Italy for risotto and carpaccio, in Asia for sea bass in curry sauce, and in Germany for honey-nut encrusted venison medallions. The seafood selection, flown in daily from Paris and beautifully presented on a triple-tiered étagère, is likely to elicit oohs and aahs from your fellow diners. Or go for the oven-roasted Barbary duck, a signature dish, which has just the right crispy tan and is expertly carved at table.


Andechser am Dom
Weinstrasse 7a
49-89-298 481
www.andechser-am-dom.de
Open 10 a.m. to midnight daily
Snacks €4-10, main dishes €10-16
 13/20
$$$$$

Stumbling across a restaurant that serves hearty Bavarian food is easy, but finding a good one requires instinct or insider knowledge. At this rustically elegant brew pub, you’ll dine on upscale country cooking in a convivial setting of vaulted and painted ceilings, shiny wainscoting and stone floors scavenged from a former military museum. You can’t go wrong with signature dishes such as veal sausages simmered in Champagne or roast pork paired with creamy dark beer sauce. Both go down exceptionally well with a freshly poured brew, made by the monks of the Andechs monastery south of Munich and considered among the finest beers in the world. In fine weather, pick an outdoor table for front-row views of the Frauenkirche, Munich’s landmark twin-towered church.


Off the Clock

P1
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
49-89-211 1140
www.p1-club.de

If you’re in the mood for a night on the razzle, P1 is the Holy Grail of Munich dance clubs. The door policy is notoriously strict, so throw on your finest Prada or Armani and bring a sunny attitude to help get you past the velvet rope. Once inside, you’ll be mingling with starlets, wanna-be’s and lots of people who look like they’ve just stepped off the cover of GQ or Cosmo. With any luck, you’ll even spot the occasional celebrity. (Yes, Paris Hilton was here.) P1, which began as a post-war American officers’ club, has been one of Germany’s leading Studio 54-type nightclubs since 1983. The curious name, by the way, is an abbreviation of the address, Prinzregentenstrasse 1, which proved too much of a tongue twister for Americans.


Viktualienmarkt
Center of town, south of Marienplatz and right by St. Peter's Church

Heaps of fruit and vegetables, mouth-watering breads and pastries, handmade cheeses, aromatic olive oils, artful flower wreaths, and old-fashioned candy—Munich’s Viktualienmarkt is a feast for the senses and an excellent place to stock up on unique gifts for the folks back home. Stalls were first set up on this square in 1807 after the market had outgrown its original spot on nearby Marienplatz. Since then it has evolved into one of Europe’s finest gourmet outposts, offering 140 stalls set up around a Maypole decorated with folkloric figurines that represent local trades and crafts. When the sun’s out, the people-watching is excellent from a table at one of the many outdoor cafés and beer gardens surrounding the square. Or pop into the recently rebuilt Schrannenhalle, a nearby 19th century market hall that’s home to an upscale food court and crafts shops.


Englischer Garten
Right by subway exit Giselastrasse
Munich’s sprawling English Garden is one of the world’s largest urban parks and a favorite playground for locals and visitors alike. It was created in 1789 by Benjamin Thompson, an American-born scientist who immigrated to Bavaria to escape the aftermath of the American Revolution. Shed the day’s stresses as you wander or jog along the park’s paths, which meander past dense groves of trees, banks of wildflowers and sprawling lawns. Here nude sunbathing is a local custom and perfectly legal, so leave your modesty at home. There’s also a lake, where you can take your sweetie for a spin, and a couple of beer gardens that make perfect places for quaffing a cold one, munching on pretzels and watching the world on parade.

Pinakothek Museums
Barerstrasse
49-89-2380 5216
www.pinakothek.de

Art aficionados will hit the mother lode with this trio of museums bulging with treasures dating from the Middle Ages. It’s impossible to see everything in one visit, so concentrate on the period that interests you most. To see a stunning collection of canvases from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including plenty of outstanding works by Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt and other heavy hitters, head to the Alte Pinakothek. Next door, the Neue Pinakothek zeroes in on the 19th century with works by crowd-pleasing French impressionists like Renoir, Monet and Gauguin, brooding landscapes by Caspar David Friedrich, and Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers. Last but not least is the adjacent Pinakothek der Moderne, Germany’s largest modern art museum. It opened in 2002 in an extravagant building that perfectly showcases works by Picasso, Warhol, Beuys and other artists who have dominated the art world throughout the last century.


Jazzclub Unterfahrt
Einsteinstrasse 42
49-89-448 2794
www.unterfahrt.de

Blue Note fans should check out who’s performing at Unterfahrt, one of a dying breed of live jazz clubs that each night features different performers. In the vaulted cellars of a former brewery, this low-key venue has been a top location in Munich for over a quarter century. A dynamic lineup of national and international musicians—from newcomers to legends—has graced its stage. Bookings run to the eclectic, with all styles represented from mainstream to modern to avant-garde. Sunday’s jam sessions are legendary. The club is part of the Einstein Cultural Center that also includes an art-house movie theater and an edgy gallery for sound art.


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