Our journey around the 10 best stores in the world stops off in Munich, where Georgia Barretta-Whiteley marvels at an enormous momument to motoring.
Even in a country as dedicated as this to the worship of the engine, rarely has so virtuous a form been committed to so mortal a function.
"Our dealers are like local churches, while BMW Welt is St. Peter's Cathedral," said Michael Ganal, BMW's director of marketing.
So let’s tread lightly, this is sacred ground.
Of course, before the car's christening, and after the frothy cappuccino, owners are given the opportunity to experience the car’s special driving features by computer simulation.
They then proceed down a grand staircase to a platform lined with BMW cars.
Accidently on-purpose misplacing a whole afternoon strolling through it, the exhibits explore the features in each innovative gesture of each premium vehicle. Dealers, trained as high priests in the technologies that underpin the BMW model, provide information on the likes of ‘EfficientDynamics’ - innovation that’s designed to reduce fuel consumption and increase driving pleasure. And ‘ConnectedDrive’? A specially created area where a team of expert dealers provide insights into the world of intelligent networking between the driver, the vehicle and the environment.
While design architect Wolf Prix boasts that that the roof is large enough to cover Piazza San Marco in Venice, designers ‘Coop Himmelb(l)au’, have combined the bold formal language of genuine civic stature with a keen feel for context that continues throughout.
What unites these various experiences is the flow of cars and beings through the space. With a dynamic energy, that latter spill in from entrances on two floors. New buyers cruise down the ramp in their glistening cars, while browsers gaze at them from the elevated bridges. These streams form an intricate pattern, linking man and machine, inside and out.
As for me, leaving on foot, head bowed as if in supplication, I can’t help but make a slight dip of the knee and a glance duly upwards at that steel underbelly.
More stores: #1 Penhaligon’s English Perfume House, London