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.
Eating and drinking
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.
Who stays there
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.
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Seasoned travellers
- Celebrity spotting
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Perfect for lovers of classical music
- Traffic noise on the Ringstrasse
- Rooms can differ considerably in size