So I had the pleasure of visiting Munich recently — a short stop-over on my way to scenic Garmisch to celebrate a friend's 50th birthday; all dressed in traditional leather lederhosen may I add (yes, the whole nine yards) — and, rather unexpectedly, was charmed top-to-bottom by this historic city.
Founded by monks in 1158, this Bavarian capital (residents are Bavarian first before they are German) plays true to its stereotypes (century-old buildings lining cobbled streets and, of course, famous rowdy beer houses), but dig a little deeper and you'll find a sophisticated metropolis with hidden daybars, top-notch coffee, and a good dose of quality shopping.
Here are my recommendations of where to shop, eat, see (and shop some more) the next time you visit München — all ticked off in 24 hours.
10am: A local favourite, avoid the bustling lunch crowd and start the day with breakfast at Literaturhaus Oskar Maria. Pull up a chair by the window, soak in the rays, order yourself a hearty omelette (I opted for the Norwegian bagel and Birchër muesli, both winners) and enjoy the grand high ceilings of this Munich Literature House. A changing daily offering, peppered by seasonal produce, keeps the menu interesting.
10.30am: Just around the corner at Salvatorplatz 4 is cult multi-label boutique, Schwittenberg. Perfect for picking up a coat from Margiela, a pair of jeans from A.P.C. or a trench from Ami. Fashion-lovers paradise.
11.30am: Looking for something more top-end and less street? Head over to Lodenfrey (boasting more than 150 years of crafting traditional Bavarian outfits) for a curated luxe offering that will make the desperate housewives of New York froth at the mouth: Leather jackets and flowing dresses from Ralph Lauren, svelte suits from Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, and plush cashmere from Loro Piana. Also check out the mosaic door handles of a couple in Bavarian attire. Super WASP zone.
12.30pm: Time for lunch. And there's no better place to see, and be seen, than at Schumann's Bar located just outside Lodenfrey at Odeonplatz 6. Have a chat with the friendly bar men and order an Aperol Spritz or their version of the Moscow Mule — laced with ginger for a refreshing hit. Food? Sandwiches, tapas and cakes are on offer. But with the bar frequented by fashion insiders and celebrities, you're really here for the view.
1.30pm: Head south by foot (actually, head everywhere by foot) and you'll find yourself in the centre of Munich at Marienplatz. While the tourists take a #selfie with the Rathaus-Glockenspiel housed in the Town Hall tower, visit Ludwig Beck am Rathauseck for local and regional designer brands. Case in point: Nabbed myself a sweet as cashmere and merino wool scarf from Johnstons of Elgin. So good.
2pm: Did I mention that wherever you go in Munich, there is always a fruit stand in yet another platz?
2.30pm: What the ladies have been waiting for — & Other Stories. This retail heaven (part of the H&M Group) caters to hipster shoppers that appreciate quality and cut as much as sporting the latest trends; albeit with a unshakeable paired-back Scandi cool. Literally 5 mins from Marienplatz.
3.30pm: You deserve a break, a coffee break that is. For the best brew in town, head to the trendy neighbourhood of Glockenbach (just south of Munich) and pull up a stool at Man Versus Machine. These people care about their drop as much as any true-blue Melbournian (that's a high benchmark) and also offer oh-so-tasty banana bread (topped with butter and a dash of salt) in addition to homemade pastries and other chocolate-y treats.
4pm: Stroll through the Glockenbach neighbourhood and you'll unearth hidden bookstores, jewellery boutiques, as well as this quaint farmer's market on Klenzestraβe (open on the weekends). Sample local jams, pick up freshly baked tarts or buy a 60cm wheel of Swiss cheese. Whatever your fancy, this is the place to swing it with the locals.
4.30pm: For vintage lovers, this is a must visit. Make your way to Sams & Son on Fraunhoferstraße 23 for pre-loved Vuitton, Goyard and Japanese denim workwear. This place gave me a leather luggage boner (say what?) and, after a long and agonising, "Do I buy a LV President trunk in Monogram or yellow Epi leather?", I settled on the former and parted a happy and satisfied man.
5pm: It's been a long day, but it's not over yet. Replenish your fluids with a juice or super açai bowl from hole-in-the-wall purveyor of health, Super Danke, just further down the road from Sams & Son.
6pm: We're heading back into town for dinner, but along the way, take in the sights and sounds. Stroll pass the Munich Residence (the former royal palace of Bavarian monarchs from the House of Wittelsbach), take a snap in front of the Cuvilliés-Theatre famous for its operas and, if you're lucky, you might even catch some boys in Bavarian outfits.
8pm: A trip to Bavaria wouldn't be complete without a traditional Bavarian meal. Forget the overcrowded and, frankly, overbearing Hofbräuhaus München for dinner (it may be the world's oldest beer house, but you can't even hear yourself breathe) and head on over to Zum Franziskaner (located away from the madness at Residenzstraße 9) to enjoy a veal schnitzel, boiled beef or pan-fried meat dumplings with the locals.
10pm: Finish the night with a drink at the sophisticated Bar Müenchen on Munich's famous Maximilianstrasse boulevard peppered with high-end international boutiques. Unapologetically decadent, throw back a cocktail with the Bavarian elite at the wood-panelled bar, share war stories on the outdoor terrace, and discuss, rather emphatically, the merits of buying second-hand Vuitton in Germany instead of France — "All the good stuff in Paris is already taken!"