The Flushing Meadows is a hotel built for Munich's alter ego; the cooler, more urbane city that rolls its eyes over beer halls and felted hats. Sequestered into a brutalist building sandwiched between the city's gay quarter, Glockenbachviertel, and the bohemian Gärtnerplatzviertel, the property, it has been said, might be more at home in Berlin, with its exposed concrete walls and reception housed in a bar. When we visited, though, we found ourselves reluctant to make that easy pass. As one of Germany's leading art cities, and home to a thumping underground music scene, it's a touch lazy to suggest life in Munich begins and ends in the Hofbräuhaus.
If you're visiting to sample the culture, chances are you'll want to avoid the city centre. The Flushing Meadows is the off-beat pick. One of the city's most design-forward, it wins prizes for aesthetics and for its cultural kudos.
A loft suite on the third floor, left, and the hotel front door. | Photo credit: Fabrice Dall'Anese
Founded by two hospitality specialists who met hosting student parties, plus an architect, the streetwise spot opened in 2014. In their desire to infuse the hotel with elements of the Bavarian capital's counterculture, the trio asked a curated selection of creatives to design 11 suites, with bedrooms dreamt up by DJs, bartenders, actors, musicians and even a surfer (more on that later). One has a 4m-tall shower cubicle; in another, the bed is suspended from the ceiling.
The result is a playful, unpretentious take on a design hotel; a distillation of Munich's arts scene. Each space is distinctive, but they have in common a sparseness that's saved from being too barren by witty details. Upstairs, the bar (and reception) is the life-giver of the place - a sophisticated late-night bolthole with a rooftop terrace that, on good days, offers views up to the Alps. It feels fitting that the heart of this sultry stay is a sophisticated bar space where there's not one stein in sight.
The 11 loft suites, on the third floor, are all individually designed: Folk Clothing founder, Cathal McAteer, DJ Hell, Helmut Geier (his room includes a life-size skeleton band), LA composer Marc Streitenfeld and Berlin musician Michi Beck have all had a hand in interiors. Apparently, the hammock-strung loft designed by an Eisbach surfer - an artificially created wave in the river running through the city's Englischer Garten entices surfers daily - is one of the most popular. Upstairs, five penthouses enjoy private balconies offering views of the city.
All rooms have soaring raw concrete ceilings and wide, sun-warmed windows, but that's where similarities end. Our third-floor suite, designed by Munich barman Charles Schumann, was overtly minimalist, with a large pale-wood headboard, paper lamps, a graphic poster and not much else. If you're picky, we'd recommend the slick layout from Viennese designer Norbert Wangen, which tops our wish list for our next visit.
Bathrooms are spacious (but don't have windows) and offer large bottles of shower gel and shampoo (but no conditioner).
The hotel bar, left, and a stylish loft suite on the third floor.
What's for breakfast?
Head up to the bar for quality coffee (courtesy of the Munich equivalent of Fortnum & Mason, Dallymayr) and buttery croissants.
Lunch and dinner
The hotel doesn't have a restaurant, but staff (shout out to the effortlessly cool Phillip) are generous with their recommendations. The website also has a packed guide to local haunts. For somewhere quick, a two-minute stroll down Fraunhoferstrasse will take you to the unassuming L'Assaggino wine bar, loved locally for its simple pasta plates and excellent bins. Or, try Sussmund Essen & Trinken, in Glockenbachviertel. Plates are a breezy take on alpine favourites, with beers as cold as mountain streams.
Is there a bar?
Yes - that's where you check in - a sultry, soundproofed room on the fourth floor (read: rooftop) kitted out with a glass-fronted wood burner and kilim rugs on the floor. It's open to all, only calling last orders when the last guest leaves. We selected a cowboy's tipple, the horse neck (bourbon, bitters and ginger ale), and a vanilla-infused gin-and-honey concoction, the Lila bees knees. Both were excellent.
WiFi is free, and laundry services are available. All rooms have DeLonghi capsule coffee, UE Boom bluetooth speakers, televisions and quality bedding.
What are the hotel's eco-credentials like?
Standard in today's day and age. No single-use plastics; no printed invoices; PVC-free keycards; and bamboo-based toilet paper in the bathrooms, alongside full-size toiletry bottles.
What about accessibility?
One room has disabled access (it's on the fourth floor, but the lift is big).
What's the crowd like?
Young, German and looking fresh.
Within a short walk I can find…
The River Isar, the city's unofficial beer garden. Grab a bottle from the kiosk at the bridge and take a pew somewhere along the wide southern bank in the evening sun. The Fraunhoferstrasse station is a two-minute stroll from your front door, from where an efficient U-Bahn will whisk you to the city centre in under 15 minutes.
Things I should know…
What's in your room depends on its designer (some have turntables; others, window seats). If you have a preference, ask on booking.