This smooth, stylish hotel on the edge of the Botanical Gardens has a cool, modern feel, helped by the giant picture of George Clooney and Tommy Lee Jones in reception as well as its new trendy bar and restaurant, Sophia's, which focuses on fruits, herbs and vegetables (making a welcome change from heavy Bavarian fare!). But the coolness factor is only part of the top-end offer, which also encompasses a spa, great breakfast and the largest standard rooms in the city.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The hotel can feel a little business-focused, which is unsurprising considering Munich's strength as a business center and the locaton of The Charles.
Standard rooms are a massive 40sqm, and do feel wonderfully roomy and light. The style is classic and muted, which can seem a touch bland, but the views over the treetops make up for that. The suites are in the building's towers.
Bathrooms have baths and showers, and come in Bavarian sandstone. Tiles, some with slightly racy classical patterns, are made from the same manufacturer as the porcelain in the Nymphenburg Palace, which gives you an idea of the swankiness level this hotel is aiming at (and reaching).
The lobby brings together high ceilings, modern design touches and a cool skylight, as well as green, purple and turquoise striped chairs, to have a bit more personality than most. Staff are competent and welcoming.
The 15m by 8m indoor pool is softly lit in blue tones, and surrounded by heated chairs.
The Charles Spa in the basement has five treatment rooms, a beauty salon, relaxation suite, Finnish sauna, steam rooms and foot baths. It too feels spacious and refined, with the same elegant, muted vibe as the rest of the hotel.
There's also a fitness suite.
Sophia's was renovated in 2016 and now aims to draw in clientele with a diverse offer - healthy food, fresh-tasting drinks, and a summer BBQ that is populated about half and half by hotel guests and locals. Its decor reflects the natural tones of the Botanical Gardens outside, with real trees and trees in the upholstery patterns too. Breakfast is generous and delicious, with a special late opening time (until 2 pm) at weekends.
Sophia's doubles as the bar, with a nice outdoor terrace and inventive drinks. There is a lobby lounge/bar and library area too, but it was closed on our visit.
Try the signature drink, Sophia's, which includes gin, champagne, lemon sorbet and thyme. Very refreshing.
The hotel is on the edge of the Old Town, walking distance from its sights but also helpfully close to the main train station for trips across the city or to the airport. Hiding just behind the Botanical Garden means its immediate environs don't have the grimy feel that seems to cling to the areas around big stations the world over, either.
Head for Atelier (13-minute walk, inside the Bayerischer Hof hotel) for a blow-out meal at a three Michelin-starred joint. Or go much more traditional Bavarian at Augustiner am Dom (17-minute walk), in a brewery beer hall and restaurant.
Die Goldene Bar (28-minute walk, 17-minute U-bahn) is a gorgeous spot with a lovely terrace in summer that is close to the Englischer Garten and the famous surfing spot, the Eisbachwelle. Or closer to home try the Augustiner Keller (13-minute walk) for great beer and bonhomie.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Slick and stylish, The Charles Hotel is a good option for business and leisure travellers alike thanks to its reliably comfortable, quiet location, good amenities, and great breakfast. The hints of personality in some of the decor and the restaurant give it a bit more oomph.