Thanks to Mrs Smith’s work schedule, our romantic weekend in Munich, our hometown, starts with some serious time pressure. The Rat Pack Show from Las Vegas at the Deutsche Theatre starts in an hour. Before then, we have to get our tickets, check in at the Anna Hotel, dress up and try to make it into the auditorium before they close the doors. Mrs Smith leaps out of the cab at the theatre to grab the tickets; I continue to the hotel to check in with our luggage.
The Anna Hotel is one of the finest boutique hotels in Munich and lies between the main train station and the Stachus, where the Karlstor, a portal remaining from the old city wall, is the entry into the historical part of town. The hotel entrance lies in a pedestrian zone brimming with shops and cafés. But with one foot on a red marble floor, my interest in retail and relaxing over coffee is eclipsed by the aesthetics; I feel myself surrounded by a strong showing of clear and pared-down design. A freestanding reception desk in front of a high wall of black stone grabs my attention, where the friendly female concierge is framed by two beautiful ikebana-like flower arrangements. While I’m checking in, Mrs Smith shows up with the tickets. Either the Deutsche Theater is very close, or my frau is very fast, even in high heels.
Our suite, designed by Donghia (like the rest of the hotel), is on the top floor of the six-storey building, so we’re happy we’ll be treated to a great view over Germany’s third largest city. As in Paris, in order to preserve Munich’s skyline, buildings aren’t allowed to be high-rise. Entering our room, we immediately regret our tight schedule for tonight. About 40 square metres of teakwood floor, combined with white walls and black granite create a warmly lit background for the cherry-picked and expertly arranged pieces of furniture. Two of the walls are replaced by panoramic windows reaching from floor to ceiling, affording the scene some penthouse-style gravitas.
My first reaction is a childish salto mortale on the main feature of the suite: the extremely inviting bed. The upholstered beige leather wall provides a welcome prophylactic against head-bumping. Lying on the soft and comforting white linen, I can’t help but mutter: ’Aw, can’t we skip the old-fashioned Las Vegas show, order some food and cocktails, and stay here the whole evening, singing Sinatra songs ourselves?’ Mrs Smith is tempted, but familiar with my musical skills, she suggests we stick to the original plan and leave it to the professionals. So we get ready in fast-forward mode and, ten minutes later by foot, it's showtime for Ol´Blue Eyes and pals.
A bit of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis et al is a worthy diversion on our weekend adventure. With hands hurting from all the clapping, we take a five-minute cab ride to Schwabing. Dinner at our favourite Munich restaurant, the Last Supper, makes a suitably dramatic finale. A successful combo of cabin in the Alps, Catholic saints on the wooden walls and rock music, it has heavily tattooed staff who contrast with the Bavarian Gemütlichkeit in looks, but treat us with perfectly comforting ease and cool nonchalance. The wines and changing menus are high-class and keep us coming back. Well-fed and entertained, we head home to our suite, to shut out the rest of the world for a wonderful holiday sleep in our hometown.
Late morning, the autumn sun lays hundreds of rays of light across the room through the teak blinds. Not wanting to leave that gorgeous bed, we enlist room service to bring us our breakfast. While enjoying scrambled eggs kept warm under silver cloches, cereals with fresh fruits, warm croissants, latte macchiato and green tea, we watch the news on the huge flatscreen TV. A little later, bathed in sunshine and surrounded by pearly mosaic stones and glass, I stand under the rain shower, still watching TV on the screen miraculously worked into the big mirror over the rough black-granite bath.
Our balcony wraps itself around half of the top floor, so it’s little wonder I find Mrs Smith there, enjoying that view of Munich. The triangular building points like a huge arrow towards the old town. Behind the Karlstor rise the twin towers of the Frauenkirche, the dominant symbol of the Munich skyline. We skip the wellness area of the five-star Hotel Königshof across the street, which is available to guests at no cost; we want to enjoy the bright sunny afternoon with a long walk through the most beautiful attraction Munich has to offer: the English Garden. It is one of the biggest city parks in the world and, at this time of year, it just blows you away. Settings for an afternoon stroll don’t get much more romantic.
The Anna restaurant and bar has been finished according to the same clear design as the rooms. The absence of cosy elements and the bare white walls create a canvas for a moody light installation that allows me opportunity to study the well-frequented restaurant and, more enjoyably, the beautiful face of Mrs Smith, in many different soft colour tones. Hungry from our walk, we fall on dishes such as corn-fed chicken and couscous, and nougat parfait with grilled mango, accompanied by several aperitifs and a bottle of white Grüner Veltliner from Austria. We reach our verdict: anyone looking for a base to conquer the most Italian city north of the Alps couldn’t find a more beautifully styled hotel from which to shoot their arrow. Especially now that it proudly flies the Smith flag.