In 1490, i.e. not long before Columbus discovered the New World, the Thaltor Inn, as the Torbräu was then known, came into existence. The nobleman Georg Schmidt of Bogenhausen acquired the house right alongside the Isartor, in front of which the “Salt Route” passed at that time. Because of its exposed location, the wine and beer tavern quickly became popular and was developed by the new owner into the noble inn. Already at that time it had not only dormitories for several travellers but also elegant single rooms with panelled walls, comfortable four-poster beds, and linen cupboards in late-Gothic style.
Beer brewer Wolfgang Brunnhuber extended the inn by a brewery, immediately becoming the first "Thor Brewer". He recognised early on the growing beer drinking trend, which increasingly squeezed out the previously predominant predilection for the at times somewhat tart Bavarian wines. At that time the Thorbräu was frequented by not only local beer drinkers but also large numbers of guests from Italy and distant Spain, who came to taste the Munich malt brew that had acquired a reputation beyond the state borders.
(Museum room at the top of the staircase to the first floor of Hotel Torbräu)
In the 17th century Bavaria and Munich also suffered from the consequences of the Thirty Years’ War. But even in this difficult time the beer made by brewer Hanns Schaller, who had acquired the property on 16 May 1597 for a princely sum, was in considerable demand. The manorial rooms were fitted out with precious Renaissance and baroque furnishings, and the Thorbräu was transformed into an inn of distinction for businessmen and diplomats.
Towards the end of the 18th century, Franz Xaver Duschl extended the Thorbräu into an entire building complex by purchasing several properties. During the wedding of the future King Ludwig I and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810, the first ever Munich Oktoberfest, the Thorbräu landlord was also responsible for “feeding" the high society. The opening of the Royal Theatre at the Isartor in 1812 attracted such illustrious guests as King Max Joseph, who like many visitors would visit the Thorbräu before or after the theatre.
The rise of the Munich Bohème to become the acknowledged cultural scene in the mid-19th century was also reflected in the inn’s clientele. The guest list included such celebrities as Heinrich Heine, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Franz Liszt. The Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen and the apothecary/painter-poet Karl Spitzweg may have had an artistic inspiration or two in the setting of the Thorbräu.
The Thorbräu was taken over by Joseph Sedlmayer, the powerful owner of the Franziskaner-Leist-Brauerei. He relocated the brewing facility to his Franziskaner-Brauerei, initiating at an early stage a series of brewery mergers that have defined the Munich beer landscape to this day.
The Prince Regent of Tal
The history of the hotelier family Mayr & Kirchlechner begins with Maria and Johann Nepomuk Mayr. The Mayrs take over Hotel Torbräu in 1903, initially as tenants of the Spaten-Leist-Brauerei.
The hotel, refurbished from 1900 in the Art Nouveau style with its striking onion tower visible from afar, and its hoteliers are the talk of the town. With great reverence the folk of Munich call out: "Look, here comes the Prince Regent of Tal" whenever the Mayrs pass in their horse-drawn carriage, Johann invariably wearing a top hat.
After Johann Nepomuk Mayr buys the property in 1919, he becomes independent of the powerful Spaten-Leist-Brauerei and is able to establish his hotel increasingly in the Twenties as an abode for the travelling middle classes. The Torbräu has already become a veritable gem: the restaurant is furnished with a glass ceiling and columns made of Czech marble, plenty of mahogany and red plush upholstery, whilst every room is equipped with electric light, running hot and cold water, and low-pressure steam heating.
Hotel Torbräu fails to escape the impact of World War II. In the night of the 17th to the 18th of December 1944 the building is almost totally destroyed by four aerial bombs. Two people are killed, the onion tower falls from the burning roof, and hoteliers Johann and Maria Mayr have to stand and watch as their life’s work is consumed by flames in a matter of hours.
In the post-war years they roll up their sleeves and swiftly set about rebuilding the hotel, actively assisted by daughter Mariele and son-in-law Sebastian Kirchlechner, who had returned home unscathed from the war. The restaurant reopens as early as March 1946, the first hotel rooms in 1947. As the staircase was gutted by fire, the rooms can initially be reached only via a makeshift construction called a "chicken ladder".
Reconstruction work continues to advance apace, and as early as in 1952 Hotel Torbräu once again has 25 single rooms and 35 double rooms. In the course of the economic miracle and the soon rising demand for hotel rooms, Sebastian and Maria Kirchlechner extend the Torbräu to more than 100 guest rooms from 1958.
(Picture from a hotel brochure of the Fifties)
The third generation of the Kirchlechner hotelier family, in the shape of sons Walter and Werner, breathes new life into the business. The two men start renovating the restaurant and guest rooms to hold their own in the face of the many hotel chains created in the course of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Master confectioner Werner Kirchlechner sets up a confectionery café with its own bakery and confectionery shop in the Torbräu, whilst after leasing the restaurant in the late Seventies hotelier Walter Kirchlechner begins marketing the hotel rooms professionally through travel agencies at home and abroad, laying the foundations for the further business development of the hotel.
(from left: Walter, Maria and Werner Kirchlechner)
500 years of "Der Torbräu"
In 1990 Werner and Walter Kirchlechner celebrate the 500th anniversary of their hotel with a large gala. Many friends of the hotel and top politicians accept the invitation and together celebrate a truly rare "Hotel Birthday": for half a millennium "Der Torbräu" has now been intimately associated with the history of Munich city.
(Picture of the lobby with the reception around1990)
100 years of the Mayr-Kirchlechner family
Under the supervision of hotelier Werner Kirchlechner, work starts in the Nineties with the extensive renovation of the now 92 guest rooms (including three elegant Junior Suites in Art Nouveau style) and the relocation of the hotel reception to face the valley, under the arcades. The conference area, which now comprises two large rooms on the ground floor with daylight, is completely refurbished and fitted out with modern presentation equipment. The café, restaurant and public areas of the hotel are given a facelift, and in 1995 the Torbräu 1995 finally enters the PC and Internet age with the introduction of the "Fidelio" hotel system: a reservation by telex is received for the last time in 1997; beforehand it was the hotel’s most important booking channel.
(Werner Kirchlechner in front of the 500-year commemorative plaque at Hotel Torbräu)