Life in 5-Star Munich: Keith, Can You Turn the Music Down?

Life in 5-Star Munich: Keith, Can You Turn the Music Down?

By  Friday, 19.12.2014, 09:00    Blog

I have never seen The Rolling Stones perform live, but I have been in very close contact.

The year is 1990, and I find myself working as a bellboy in Munich's premier hotel, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Maximilian Strasse, where one of my night concierge bosses was a charming quiet old guy of few words called Adolf. A man of few words unless you happened to speak fluent Bayerisch, as his German was questionable and the only words of English I ever heard him speak were 'Good night', 'order taxi?', 'what time wake up call?' and my favourite for guests looking for late night information, 'come back tomorrow'.

So when The Rolling Stones booked 70 (yes seventy) rooms in the hotel for a couple of nights on one of their world tour, it was little wonder that I was pressed into night-time service, so I could at least understand the barrage of requests which were sure to follow. 

As an impressionable 19 year-old, it was quite a thrill to share a lift with Bill Wyman and be asked to bring him some cigarettes, and to enter the room of Charlie Watts with a bunch of birthday flowers, but my enjoyment of my brush with fame stopped as soon as I received an instruction from Adolf at 2am. 

A German guest had complained that there was some loud music nearby and could we do something about it? Adolf dispatched me to investigate, and I walked to the second floor towards the room of the complaining guest to see where the music was coming from. 

And it was LOUD. 

Room 200.

Keith Richards.

I went down to my boss to explain the situation. If Keith was having a party, who was I to do anything about it?

"Knock on his door and tell him to turn down the music," Adolf commanded. 

"Adolf, I know you are not into rock music, but do you have any idea who this guy is? It's Keith Richards, for heaven's sake."

My appeal fell on deaf ears, and I climbed the stairs once again, immaculately dressed in purple tunic and pressed white gloves to carry out Adolf's wishes. I did knock, but oh so timidly, then ran away before there was a chance of Keith seeing me even if he did hear the knock. Nothing can be done, Adolf, he is not answering, I reported triumphantly, to which my boss responded by handing me the phone and ordering me to call room 200. 

My heart thumping, I called in front of Adolf - there was no way to avoid it. Fancy me calling Keith Richards at 2am and asking him to turn his music down! Thankfully he could not have heard the phone, so I replaced it with a victorious smile. I had done all I could. Not so, replied Adolf, passing me the master key. If this pop star would not answer the phone or the door, there was only one way to bring him to heel. Enter the lair and talk to him directly. 

My legs were leaden as I climbed the stairs for the third time. I wondered how I could possibly get out of this one, and how many televisions Keith might hurl at me for disturbing him. My life was over before it had begun, I figured, as I put the master key in the hole. 

Fortunately for me, but not for the complaining guest, Keith had also bolted the door shut, so that there was no way I could enter - he had obviously been in this situation before more than once in his life. Short of climbing the outer walls and breaking in through the window - not a suggestion I shared with Adolf - there was literally nothing more than I could do. My feelings of pity for the sleepless guest were far outweighed by the fact that I had retained my dignity. Keith called it an  early night about 02:30, so all was well in the end.

And as I recounted the incident last week as I walked past the hotel on a brief visit to Munich, I wondered what was the more remarkable fact 25 years later - that Keith was not only still alive and partying, but also performing still with The Stones aged over 70, or that I would find myself moving to a small island in the very heart of the city a quarter century after I left.

The chances of me being asked to tell Keith Richards to turn his music down are minimal this time, but there is plenty more to discover about this great city. Join me on the journey, starting next week, via the Total Munich Facebook page.  

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Paul Bradbury

After 12 years living on the most gorgeous island in the world, Hvar in Dalmatia, I have begun to wonder if there is still life beyond its shores. Prior to discovering Paradise in 2002, I was a world traveller, living and working in Japan, Georgia, Somalia, Rwanda, Russia... and Munich.

After 95 countries and some 25 years have passed, the memories of my year in the hotel industry in the Bavarian capital (fired by the Sheraton for losing our pet snake, the first male chambermaid at Hotel Arabella, and a truly eye-watering introduction to five-star living in  my days as a bellboy in luxury Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten) are strong, and the call of Munich has been a constant theme over the last quarter century. 

And so here I am, answering the call some 25 years later. Twelve years of island living have changed me for sure, but also left me curious about life in a big city, and whether or not I could adapt to it after such an insular decade. 

I was surprised to see that for such a magnificent multi-cultural city, English-language blogs and regularly updated information are not that available. Static tourism information, such as that provided by the excellent tourist board website yes, but accounts of daily life delivered daily? Hard to find.

And so I have decided to take a break from my idyllic island and see if I could live in a city again. And what better way to try than to discover modern Munich in all its facets after so many years. It is a journey of discovery which I am relishing, and I hope the site proves to be of interest for Munich residents and its numerous visitors.

About Paul Bradbury

Author of Lebanese Nuns Don't Ski, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes and Hvar's first comprehensive guidebook, Hvar: An Insider's Guide to Croatia's Premier Island, as well as co-author of Split: An Insider's Guide with Mila Hvilshoj, I have lived in Dalmatia full time since 2003. In addition to running Total Munich, I also run Total Split (, Total Hvar ( and Total Inland Dalmatia (, as well as being an accredited Google News journalist for Digital Journal in Canada.

I also have various blogging clients, including the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board, European Coastal Airlines, Touristar TV and Andro Tomic Wines, and print clients include Qatar Airways inflight magazine, Out! magazine from New York, and Croatian Hotspots. 

In December 2014 I was delighted to receive the Marko Polo 2014 Award from FIJET Croatia (Federation of International Travel Writers and Journalists)  at a ceremony for the Croatian Journalists Society for the best international tourism promotion of Croatia. More here.

Ongoing writing projects:

A History of Hajduk Split, co-author with Frane Grgurevic - in 2015

Around the World in 80 Disasters - out in 2015

Total Hvar in the Media:

Interview of the Month, Croatian Embassy in Washington (May 2013)

Special Feature in Globus Magazine (May 2013)

Featured on Croatian TV show, More (2012) - watch the report here

Interviews in Slobodna Dalmacija, Dalmacijanews, Radio Split

I am available for writing services. Please contact me on [email protected] or visit my main writing website, 

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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