I was planning to stay in Munich for three nights over the final weekend of Oktoberfest. As a Marriott loyalist, I was quite pleased with the wide range of hotels in the Bavarian capital, although unfortunately many of them had become fully booked up by the time I went to finalize my plans.
In the end, I settled on the Le Méridien Munich for its ideal location immediately next to the central train station (Hauptbahnhof) and only 10 minutes’ walk away from the Theresienwiese, the main site of the Oktoberfest fairgrounds.
The Le Méridien is a Category 5 property that costs 35,000 Bonvoy points a night. At the time, I had two free night certificates valid for exactly 35,000 points sitting in my account (from what was then the US-issued personal and business Amex SPG cards), so I decided to burn those certificates and redeem an extra 35,000 points for the third night.
As I was attaching the certificates over the phone, the agent remarked that I had miraculously booked the last available standard room on two of the nights. And with the nightly rates hovering near €550 ($820) a night during the biggest event of the year, I felt satisfied that I was getting an amazing deal.
After a long day of travel, I arrived at Munich Hauptbahnhof via the Lufthansa airport bus at around 9pm, and from there the Le Méridien was right across the street. (I later snapped some pictures of the hotel’s exterior and public areas during the daytime.)
The hotel occupies a large building on the street corner, and the entrance consists of a rather unassuming revolving door flanked by two sets of glass doors, all plastered with a funky “stained glass” sticker pattern.
The lobby is a large open space, and the check-in desks are positioned to your right-hand side as you enter.
The front desk manager helped check me in for my stay. Since I had made three separate reservations using the two free night certificates and 35,000 points for the final night, he was only able to find a one-night reservation at first. I had made sure to email the hotel in advance and let them know of my linked reservations, though, and after a while he was finally able to pull up my full reservation for three nights.
I was told I had been assigned a room on the fifth floor, and that I could have my choice of 1,000 points or breakfast vouchers as my Platinum amenity (naturally I chose the latter).
No upgrade was forthcoming, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting one, given the small matter of a rather noisy beer festival that was taking place down the street.
I made my way through the lobby seating areas and towards the elevators. I find Le Méridien’s brand identity somewhat confusing. It’s meant to be a “distinctive premium” hotel brand within Marriott’s wider ecosystem, and its hotels are typically marked by chic and creative design and plenty of local flair.
I could therefore appreciate the Oktoberfest-themed artwork that was on display in the lobby, but why did the furniture in the seating areas look like they were straight out of a children’s play room? I can’t really say I was the biggest fan of the decor here in the lobby.
The elevators have LED displays on their doors, advertising Irmi, the hotel’s main restaurant. Again, an interesting choice of design, if a little wacky.
Up to the fifth floor, where I had been assigned Room 504.
Stepping inside, you walk through a short hallway before arriving at the room, which is in the shape of a large square.
The king bed was on the soft side, and the blanket was also rather thin and not very comfortable. I can usually count on most of Marriott’s premium or luxury hotel brands to deliver a consistently high-quality night of sleep, but based on this stay, I don’t feel as though Le Méridien is one of them.
I did like the glow-in-the-dark artwork on the headboard behind the bed, though. Obviously, you can switch it off when you go to sleep.
Opposite the king bed is the television mounted on the wall, together with a large cabinet for the minibar, the coffee & tea kit, and the storage safe.
On the far side of the room, a chair-and-ottoman combo and a desk are available to serve your relaxing and working needs, respectively. The staff had left me a gingerbread heart (lebkuchen) as my welcome gift, which I thought was a cute gesture.
Meanwhile, the closet is positioned on the near side of the room, adjacent to the bathroom door. I was happy to see that bathrobes were available, although like the bedsheets, they felt a little cheap and rough in texture.
The bathroom is rather basic, and a little cramped compared to the spaciousness of the room itself. There’s a separate shower and bathtub, when it might have made more sense to use a shower-and-tub combo in the limited space available.
On the plus side, there was a heated towel rack, and the shower had excellent water pressure. Toiletries were made by Malin+Goetz, a New York-based apothecary.
A small jar of complimentary bottled water was available on the bedside tables.
Room 504 faces the interior of the building, where there is a central courtyard on the ground floor. You can open the balcony door for some fresh air, but there’s a latch to prevent anyone from stepping outside.
On the whole, the room was fine for resting my head in-between exploring Munich and visiting the Oktoberfest, but it certainly didn’t leave me feeling impressed. While the hotel’s lobby and public areas are modern enough, its guest rooms feel a little old and dated, and a few cracks were beginning to show in the flooring and wallpaper.
I was also disappointed that there were no universal power plugs in the room – I had only brought one European adapter with me, which meant I couldn’t charge all my devices at once.
Overall, I genuinely think the hotel’s guest rooms would benefit from a refresh in 3–5 years’ time to address these issues.
The hotel’s redeeming quality was its breakfast buffet, which is served daily in the Irmi restaurant on the ground floor. I also invited my local friend to join me for breakfast on the last day of my stay before we headed out to the fairgrounds.
Irmi’s seating areas are stylishly designed, and the restaurant even opens up to the central courtyard, where you can sit down for breakfast at one of the outdoor tables as well.
In addition to the items you’d usually find at hotel breakfasts, like charcuterie, cereals, eggs, and bacon, the Le Méridien Munich also serves up some mean Bavarian items, like quark, white sausage, meat loaf, and pretzels.
I thoroughly enjoyed filling up on a big breakfast before heading out for the day, and it’s a shame that I had to skip breakfast and leave the hotel so early on the third day.
I didn’t spend too much time at the hotel, so was only able to visit a handful of the other features and amenities on the property. The lobby lounge plays host to Longitude 11˚, the hotel’s cafe, its name referring to Munich’s position on the 11th meridian east. There’s also a small business centre around the back of the check-in counters.
The Oktoberfest-themed artwork was on display throughout the entire property. Bavarians have such a unique cultural heritage compared to the rest of Germany, and the Le Méridien certainly wore it proudly.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit the hotel’s fitness facilities, given my busy time in town.
Speaking of which, I’ll take this opportunity to quickly talk about my time at Oktoberfest over my two days in Munich. I won’t be writing a separate post about it, largely because I kind of forgot about taking pictures and documenting the experience in-between all those litres of beer 😉
We mainly visited the Hofbräu Tent, which is by all accounts the one that most visitors flock to. Apparently there were long queues at around 9am when the tent opened, but by the time my friend and I showed up at 11am, there were barely any queues anywhere to be seen, and we simply sauntered in.
Of course, the challenge is that by this hour, most of the seats will be occupied. In that regard, we were quite lucky in that we knew a few people who had already taken their seats, and managed to squeeze in alongside them. However, despite reading advice online that said you won’t be served beer if you don’t have a seat, we still had no problem placing our orders even when we were standing up.
Steins of Hofbräu are €11.50 each, and it’s quite easy to lose track of how many you’ve had as the hours go on. Every 15 minutes or so, the tent’s in-house performing band, perched high up above the drinking masses, will launch into a rousing rendition of “Ein Prosit”. That’s your cue to get up on the chairs and tables, link arms with the friends and strangers around you, and mumble along, pretending you know the words, topping it all off with an almighty swig of your glorious libation.
Part cheap thrills and part unique cultural tradition, Oktoberfest was certainly a lot of fun, and makes for some incredible memories (if you can retain them, that is…) I’d love to return one day, but I’m also not in a hurry to do so, since the raucous weekend can certainly take a lot out of you!
The Le Méridien Munich’s public areas are modern and snazzy, its breakfast game is strong, and its location is ideal for Oktoberfest-bound travellers. However, my room felt cheap and ordinary, and while it served its purpose in giving me a place to recover from long beer-swilling sessions, I can’t say it gave me too much desire to return to the property in the future.
I came into my first Le Méridien stay with high expectations, but unfortunately the Munich property didn’t quite meet the mark, and I’d be more inclined to try out a different hotel the next time I’m in town.