Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MUNICH: Hotel Schlicker zum Goldenen Löwen

If you’re seeking genuine Bavarian accommodations when visiting München (Munich), you need look no farther than the Hotel Schlicker.

I booked a night at the Hotel Schlicker zum Goldenen Löwen near the city’s Marienplaz area on the recommendation of a neighbor in Seattle, a lovely lady who once called München (Munich) home, visits often, and tells me she stays at the Hotel Schlicker “every time I visit.” What I found was a hotel that is decidedly humble by 21st century standards, but is definitely authentic.

Interior, Room 320
Located just east of the St. Peter Kirche (church), a few hundred meters south of the Marienplaz train and U-Bahn station, the Schlicher is a family-run, three-star establishment that is working to keep the old traditions alive. The property has been around since 1544 and a hotel since 1897, the materials say, so it’s no surprise that the rooms are smaller than more modern hotels. Mine (Room 320) was decorated in a more traditional, fussy sort of motif (see photo at right).

The facilities are well maintained but differ from the larger hotels in many other ways, some of which you may consider important, and some of which you may not.

For example, guests at the Schlicker are still given an actual key to their rooms instead of a key card. Further, they must physically lock themselves in, and lock the door behind them on their way out; unlike many hotels, the doors to the guest rooms do not lock automatically.  

In addition, guests may get off the lift (elevator) to find the hallways dark. That’s an energy-saving measure in Germany, but there are numerous switches on the walls. At the Schlicker, guests need simply hit one and the lights will come on. Other hotels have motion sensors instead of the switches.

Exterior, Hotel Schlicker
Guest rooms have older tube-based televisions instead of flat-screen TVs, and the radios are basic AM/FM affairs, not Bose acoustic wave players with CD, MP3 and iPod capabilities. All-purpose hair and body shampoo is provided in the baths instead of a panoply of specialized toiletries, and there is neither iron and ironing board, in-room safe, nor in-room coffee maker. Being an older hotel, signs cautioning to “Watch your step” and similar are not apparent, so one needs to be careful when walking about.

Though small with a living area of approximately 8 by 15 feet with the twin bed tucked into an alcove off to the side, my “large single room” (€136 per night during Christkindlmarkt) was comfortable, with a small desk for working, an easy chair for sitting and watching TV (which offered programming in multiple languages including BBC World and CNN), and a very cozy duvet and cover when it came time to hit the sack.The hotel also offers "standard single" and "economy single" rooms as well as "large double bed" rooms, "junior suites" and "The Maisonette Suite" which includes rooms on two floors.

One drawback became obvious when I was showering. The bathtub and shower are not set up for the way we Americans shower: standing up under the shower head. The shower wand was hung at the end of the tub with the faucet and drain, but there was only a narrow glass panel to keep the water from spraying out into the bathroom.

It didn’t work.

The bath's inadequate shower shield
Despite my best efforts, copious amounts of water found their way onto the bathroom floor, which wouldn’t have happened had I sat in the tub and used the shower wand while seated. But as I said, that’s not how we Americans shower.

Bottom line: after drying off, I used every towel to dry the floor carefully before using the hairdryer. As European electricity is 220 volts, I certainly did not want to be standing in water!

The hotel offers complimentary WiFi access, inexpensive phone calls (in the event that your U.S.-based telephone does not function in Europe), and in-room mini-bars with prices that are quite reasonable compared to other hotels: €2 for bottled water, €5 for spirits, for example. There is also a grocery store almost directly across Tal, the street on which the Schlicker is located, where beer, wine, bottled water and other items can be obtained. Opening hours, however, are more limited than grocery stores in the states.

The Schlicker is in the heart of the area’s Altstadt (Old Town), and only about two blocks from the famous Hofbräuhaus. That establishment is noteworthy for its one-liter steins of beer, copious amounts of sausage, oompa music, waiters in Lederhosen and waitresses in Bavarian Oktoberfest dirndl dresses that often show off more than a little cleavage.

The Hofbräuhaus got its start in 1592 after Wilhelm V., Duke of Bavaria, authorized the establishment of a brewery because he was dissatisfied with the beer imported from the city of Einbeck in Lower Saxony. It has been at its current location for well over 100 years.

Breakfast room at the Schlicker
By way of convenience, the Hotel Schlicker offers a buffet breakfast, including traditional European breakfast items of cold cuts, cheese, and muesli, as well as items more suited to Western tastes, including scrambled eggs and sausage. OK, German Weisswürst, which is delicious. If you’re hungry for more stereotypically American fare, the Schlicker is sandwiched between a McDonald’s and a Burger King. And of course, coffee shops including Starbucks are ubiquitous.

One item worthy of note: don’t plan on sleeping in on Sunday.

I was in München on a Sunday morning. At 0700, the church bells pealed for several minutes – more than sufficient to wake those who were not already up – even through the hotel’s triple-glazed windows – and signal that it was time to start preparing for church. At 0845, the bells resumed in earnest, calling the faithful to worship, and did not stop until 0900 when church services began.

While the facility and service were fine for a three-star establishment, I am personally willing to pay for more luxurious surroundings when I travel, particularly overseas. However, if you’re seeking an authentic, Old World experience for your visit to Munich, I’d suggest looking into the Hotel Schlicker. You’ll be giving up some, but by no means all, of the things we have come to expect when we’re traveling, but you’ll also be having an authentically Bavarian experience.

Visit my main page at TravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger images

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