Hotel Imperial, Vienna
Kaerntner Ring 16, Vienna, Austria, A-1015
- Recommended for:
- Couples, Culture vultures, Honeymooners, Mature travellers, Seasoned travellers, Art, Celebrity spotting, Nightlife, Romance, Special occasions
Best for Luxury - Expert review of Hotel Imperial, Vienna
Do you require your morning tea served at your bedside? Are you tired of reading crumpled newspapers? Well, if you want your morning paper ironed (by hand, of course) and your tea served in bed or the bath, come to that, then I suggest you stay in one of the sumptuous suites, where the somewhat decadent butler service is all part of the package.
As the name suggests, this is palatial grandeur and elegance abounding. It’s one of the great landmarks of the Ringstrasse, built originally for a wealthy aristocrat who, unhappy about what was to be built behind the property, let it go so that it could be turned into a hotel. Heads of state are invited to stay here when on an official visit to the Austrian Republic's capital.
International celebrities use it as their base: Woody Allen, Domingo, Mehta and many many more. Particularly world-famous conductors choose to stay here as the Musikverein - notably the best concert hall in the world – is next door. The less popular story is that the Nazis used it as their headquarters during WWII, then the Soviets grabbed it in 1945, and ten years later it was but a shadow of its former self. However, due to its importance as a symbol of Viennese hospitality, the Austrian Republic went to great lengths and massive expenditure to have it returned to its former glory.
Central: the Ringstrasse was the best address in town a hundred years ago; it still is as far as hotels go. This huge 19th-century, pale yellow structure can hardly be missed; it's just a short walk from the nearby Karlsplatz public transport terminal, although when staying here I might suggest you arrive in style.
If available, and you want to be pampered, then go for the enormous royal suite that stretches across the front of the building in the first floor; this was part of where former owner, Prince Phillip of Wurttemberg had his private chambers. Apart from the size and sheer luxury - silk upholstered walls, padded doors (privacy guaranteed) star-patterned parquet floors, crystal mirrors, sparkling chandeliers, enormous king sized bed - it comes with butler service and personalised stationary.
If that's all a bit much there are lots of other suites and rooms to go for, and most of them do exude a stately luxuriousness. Bathrooms vary in size but are generally spacious and have heated floors. As with most buildings from this era rooms do vary greatly in size, depending on the floor, rooms get smaller the higher you go.
Stately splendour is apparent as soon as you enter through the rotating door into the ornate ballroom-like lobbies, where inlaid-wood panelled walls, gilt mirrors, white stucco and huge shiny crystal chandeliers reflect the elegant refinement of the Belle Époque. High ceilings, soft sofas, period furniture and the most beautiful fresh flower arrangements embellish the whole. I suggest a closer look at the gigantic marble staircase leading to the balcony overlooking the entrance – you can't really miss the huge, well known portraits of former rulers Emperor Franz Josef and his wife, Elizabeth, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter; reminiscent of past royal rulers times.
Imperial Café is one of my favourite hang-outs - it is perfect for a snack after a Musikverein concert or meeting friends for a more formal coffee. This is where breakfast is served and it includes lots of good Austrian hams, cheeses, pastries and freshly cooked dishes from the menu; watch out for celebrities. As an alternative to going out to dine, try the in-house Restaurant Imperial which has an excellent reputation and an intimate, albeit elegant, atmosphere. Permit me to reminisce: I once enjoyed the most delicious duck dinner with my dearest husband here – we both felt like royalty through the way we were treated.
For a night-cap, accompanied by live piano music, try the cosy Maria Theresia Bar.
Now you meet true Viennese charm. Discreet and unpretentious staff will do everything they can and more to meet your expectations. These are the experts at obtaining opera and concert tickets for (otherwise) sold out shows.
Royalty, heads of state, celebrities, music lovers, I have bumped into a couple of famous conductors myself. Business travellers, honeymooning couples, mature travellers.
This is an expensive place to stay but there are good deals to be had at short notice.
More information on Hotel Imperial, Vienna:
- Price from:
- Kaerntner Ring 16, Vienna, Austria, A-1015
- Business Centre, Room Service, High-Speed Internet, Fitness Centre, Restaurant, Parking, Pets Allowed
- 1st District