Can the contents of a minibar distil the essence of a hotel stay? It's not often we think so, but in this effortlessly chic Munich hotel, the maths just adds up. Inside the canvas-covered cabinet of our sharply designed suite, we found the distinctive brown bottles of Tegernseer helles bier (a local pale lager), a dinky bottle of Bavarian Grauburgunder (the good stuff they don't export), a selection of Ritter Sport chocolate bars and a packet of Haribo. Read "refined, elegant and a little bit fun". Munich takes most of its cues from neighbouring Italy, pairing dolce vita cosmopolitanism with German efficiency - and this city-centre hotel follows suit. On our first night, we dine on chilled white wine and golden bears.
There are copious hotels that claim to encapsulate a city's character, but Munich's Louis Hotel might be one of the first we've visited that hits the mark so precisely. Tucked into a 100-year old building beside the city's historic Viktualienmarkt (food market), its clean lines, slick design and understated elegance echo the Bavarian capital's refined cool. This is Milan, but less pretentious; Berlin, but much chicer.
The 72-key stay pairs its historic architecture with a touch of modernism in its stylish interiors - despite having been open since 2009, its appearance remains smart; its aesthetic, timeless. Andreas Hild and Dionys Ottl of Hild und K Architekten have used warm, oiled wood throughout, pairing the natural finish with simple, crisp lines, warm hues and a soft, silky tranquillity.
In typical German fashion, Louis feels precision-engineered.There's a lift in the hotel's entrance passage that will whisk you straight to your room; the lobby leads effortlessly onto the fire-warmed cocktail bar; and your room feels suitably spacious without ever feeling empty - or tumbling into pretentiousness. If hotels had attitudes, we'd pin this one as an older sibling's hot, but approachable, friend. Who offers you Haribo, obviously.
Serene, with white panelled walls that curve up to meet the ceiling and a warm, welcoming colour palette. Think elegant and enticing. We loved the mid-century-inspired furnishings upholstered in moss-green velvet and lichen-toned linens, the oiled oak floorboards and the soft kilim rugs underfoot.
Everything has been carefully thought out, from quirky twist switches for the lights to soft leather pulls replacing cabinet handles. Metro-tiled bathrooms are opulent, with underfloor heating, vast baths, generous shower heads and rattan-shuttered windows that look out into the bedroom (don't worry, a shower curtain protects your modesty). Each evening, you'll find elegant glass bottles of Vöslauer water offered and, come morning, forget Nespresso - you'll be enjoying Sjostrand coffee pods as you peruse the market comings and goings from your French balcony.
The beds are worthy of a paragraph in themselves. These scientifically calibrated sleeping contraptions see conventional springs replaced with natural rubber to help the mattress adapt to your sleeping body (it works), while linens are 100 per cent unbleached cotton, with - in the traditional German style - single duvets provided to help regulate temperature even when sharing the bed. Pillows provide the perfect sleeping position for your spine (don't discredit the firm, thin slabs without trying them first) - but if they're not to your liking, you can order a camel or horse hair-stuffed alternative from the pillow menu. We've never headed into the land of nod so quickly.
What's for breakfast?
Perfected classics made with produce from the Viktualienmarkt are served from 7am. A hefty flat rate of £27 seems steep, until you consider what it includes: a packed-out table of - deep breath - fresh breads, croissants, whipped butter, jams and honey, coffee and tea, juices and a selection of made-to-order menus. You can pick from a seafood plate (salmon, smoked fish, horseradish cream and prawn cocktail), avocado on toast with a beetroot salad and mango lassi, classic eggs benedict and florentine, Bircher muesli, fruit salad, acai bowls, open sandwiches and more.
How about lunch and dinner?
The ground-floor Louis Grillhouse is suave, but pricey. Save your cents by heading out for lunch to Caspar Plautz in the Viktualienmarkt, a potato-selling stall offering crazy concoctions with all things spuds. Checking in late? Scurry down to Gute Nacht Wurst, a grungy student favourite 10 minutes' walk away that plates up moreish portions of spicy currywurst, with local beers on tap.
Is there a bar?
The handsome Louis Sparkling Bar sits just off reception and offers the same subdued sophistication as the lobby. Cocktails are well balanced and playful. Our tipple of the day - a cherry-infused concoction from the bartender - was smooth, light and refreshing.
There's a rooftop bar, which opens in summer, and a small gym and sauna, although we weren't able to access either, due to grey skies and continuing Covid regulations.
Rooms are equipped with a hairdryer, TV, plush robes and slippers and a Bose speaker. The florally perfumed toiletries are from Parisian brand La Biosthétique.
How about their green credentials?
Don't expect to see any single-use plastics in rooms. Coffee capsules are biodegradable and bathroom toiletries are full-size and refillable. The wonderful mattresses are made from natural latex and bedding is carefully sourced and produced by a local enterprise. Produce in the restaurant is sourced from local farms and the nearby market.
What about accessibility?
Access for disabled guests is required by law, so no worries there.
What's the crowd like?
Suited and booted. We heard whispers of Swedish and Italian over breakfast, and spied Hugo Boss-outfitted businessmen, plus well-heeled European couples on city breaks. Kids are welcome (although, note, the few we saw were extremely well behaved).
Things I should know
Don't be afraid to order the Bavarian breakfast selection. The weisswurst veal sausages are a source of state pride. The tender meat is poached in a light cooking liquid and served with sweet mustard, a pretzel and - if you can handle it - a hoppy morning weissbier (wheat beer).
Within a short walk I can find…
You're right in the middle of the old town, encircled by the gothic spires of the city Rathaus, the green-onion domes of the Frauenkirche church and history-soaked streets. Right outside are the blue-and-white-maypole stalls of the traditional Viktualienmarkt, with the city's famous beer halls just beyond. Our favourite bar, Garçon, is a three-minute walk away.
Hop on the U-Bähn and you're within easy reach (or a 30-minute walk) of the city's numerous museums, plus the rolling undulations of the bucolic Englisch Garten, one of Europe's largest city-centre parks.
Rooms cost from £209 a night.