Convenience at a Price

By Nikki Goth Itoi

The name of the game at Munich's Kempinski Airport Hotel is convenience. It is the only hotel right at the airport and is actually connected to it by a series of underground moving sidewalks.

We were able to drive our rental car to the hotel entrance, park, and quickly check into our room. Then we drove five minutes around the corner to return the car and walked back to the hotel. Better yet, the next morning, we rolled out of bed two and a half hours before our flight home, and were still able to check in with time to spare. The hotel's staff were quick to help us with our luggage and saved us the 10-minute walk to the terminal by calling a free shuttle.

Though the Kempinski has been open for a couple of years, it retains a dazzling newness. It just may be, as advertised, "Europe's most ultramodern airport hotel." A soaring all-glass atrium serves as the hotel's lobby and is almost blinding as one emerges from the stale, fluorescent light of the terminal. Airport monitors in the lobby provide updated flight arrival and departure information.

There are 389 rooms and suites, some of which are designated nonsmoking. All have air-conditioning and the usual five-star amenities. Some face the tarmac and others, less desirable, face the atrium. Like the rest of the hotel, guestrooms still look very new. Ours, on the fourth floor facing the tarmac, had a large desk, a leather recliner, very good lighting, a decent television, and a fully-stocked minibar. With modern, Scandinavian-style furniture and a sparkling bathroom with chrome fixtures and a shower with both overhead nozzle and a second sliding, detachable shower head.

Another subtle, but important aspect of this hotel; soundproofing. During the entire evening, night, and morning, we never once heard a plane take off.

Oddly, the Kempinski skimped on bath towels, providing only two thin ones for two people. Another small inconvenience was that the only phone sat on the desk, rather than at the bedside, meaning you have to get out of bed to answer it.

The hotel also has underground parking (Lot P26), a business center and a variety of restaurants and bars.

For recreation, there are two saunas, a solarium (tanning salon), an indoor pool with its own bar, and a complete fitness center. Other services include wheelchair access, elevators, child care, washers/dryers, and room service.

The trade off for all this, of course, is price. Singles and doubles are in the $150 to $250 range.

To reach the Kempinski on foot from the airport, simply follow the car rental and parking garage signs.

By car, the hotel is about 30 minutes from central Munich; follow signs to the Flughafen exit off highway A92. The hotel is also connected to the German railway through the airport line (S8).

• Daily Rates: Singles and doubles 270 to 450 DM ($150-$250), children age 12 and under stay free. Rates don't include the Continental breakfast which is 22 DM ($12) per person.
Contact: Kempinski Airport Hotel, Terminalstrasse / Mitte 20, D- 85356 Munich, tel. +49/89/9782-0, tel. +49/89/9782-2610. Reserve from the U.S. at 800-426-3135 (To obtain the lowest possible rate, Gemütlichkeit always recommends contacting both the toll-free reservations service and the hotel directly).
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 11/20

A Kempinski Dinner

Dining at the hotel's Restaurant Charles Lindbergh was a surprisingly pleasant experience. After a week of breathing smoky air in restaurants all over Austria, we almost fell over when the maître'd asked if we preferred smoking or nonsmoking.

The restaurant is large enough to accommodate a crowd, but still manages to avoid the institutional atmosphere of a cafeteria; and it beats any other options in the airport itself - we checked.

We treated ourselves to two carafes of an Italian Merlot, roast duck (43 DM/$24) smothered in a thick, brown gravy; a baked vegetable ragout (29 DM/$16) with cheese that turned out to be much lighter than it sounded; two slightly wilted salads, and a bottle of Evian to quench our never-ending thirst. The menu is in English, so there's no need to translate, and servers are efficient and attentive.

Including the beverages we paid 105 DM ($58).

Restaurant Charles Lindbergh, Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich, Terminalstrasse/Mitte 20 85356 Munich, tel +49/89/97820, fax: 9782 2610
Rating: Quality 12/20, Value 11/20

March 1998