Photographs by Brandon de Kock
The first 25hours Hotel I checked into was the Bikini in Berlin. On previous visits to the reunified capital, cool was a word applied to the creatively charged former East. The Bikini opened in the West, in April 2014, and when I got there in May, the hotel’s rooftop Monkey Bar was already a destination for drinks.
It just so happened the 25Hours Royal Bavarian opened in Munich in November 2017 and I visited January 2018. Already a fan of the 25hours offering, in this case location was the clincher. Conveniently, it’s right opposite the Munich Haupbahnhof or Central Station.
The itinerary played out as follows: Land in Munich, take a train to snowy Austria for two nights and return to Munich for another two nights before flying back to Cape Town. Sleeping next door to Munich Central Station, a major transport hub for the S-bahn, U-bahn and busses, would streamline logistics.
All went to plan. Brandon and I caught a Sunday afternoon train out of Austria with the carriages as crammed as a sardine can and carrying mostly Ski-lovers still basking in the glow of the weekend. Once we’d all spilled out and exited the building, we wheeled our luggage over the street to the 25Hours hotel.
Two days and a late check out later, we crossed the road again with luggage in tow and caught the Lufthansa Airport Express bus* for a 45-minute ride to the airport. It leaves every 15 minutes, has Wifi onboard and all baggage is stowed in the hold so there’s no clutching onto it during the journey.
Practical advantages aside, the Royal Bavarian feels like a big, plush hug. There are velvet drapes and tassles and Dioaramas in the elevators and ornamental sequined fruit in the Boilerman Bar, the kind I remember my German grandparents owning. Décor pays homage to the province but always with a sense of fun.
After a three-hour train journey, the warm welcome we received was as appreciated as the chilled beer stein in which an Augustiner Edelstoff was served. The thoughtful attention to detail carried through in the details, like toweling armbands holding folded maps with running routes of various distances set out at reception in the early morning.
Though we were in a ‘Box Room’, which as the name suggests is a cleverly designed shoebox-like space with washbasin almost within reach of the bed, there are plenty of communal spaces for inhabiting. I collected my thoughts, paged through Taschen books and wrote letters on the German typewriters in the foyer.
The sealed envelopes were handed to reception for posting and two days later I received a message from my German relatives, thanking me for writing. The Royal Bavarian served as the perfect buffer between concluding a lengthy trip and going home.
*Note from Brandon: A single S-Bahn ticket for the 40 minute trip from the Hauptbahnhof to the Airport will cost you E11,60 which sounds like a good idea until you realise that it only costs E10,50 for a Lufthansa Airport Express bus that goes direct from the Hauptbahnhof to the Airport Terminals, takes exactly 45 minutes and allows you to stash your bags under the bus. Also, it’s all at ground level door-to-door, so no lugging luggage up and down escalators etc. No-brainer.