Staying at the Hotel Bristol Vienna is like living in a little jewel box, cushioned and protected in a world that exists specifically to indulge you.
It’s the mark of an exceptional hotel experience when you find yourself remembering more than a few impeccable details months later, as I am from our stay at Hotel Bristol Vienna. Part of Starwood Hotels‘ SPG Luxury Collection, Hotel Bristol Vienna is on the Kaertner ring right next to the Opera. This excellent location is the perfect base for your stay.
But location aside, the Hotel Bristol Vienna is my favorite out of all the places we stayed recently in Europe. The hotel’s website promises a refined ambience, and they aren’t kidding. Staying at the Hotel Bristol Vienna is like living in a little jewelbox, cushioned and protected in a world that exists to indulge you.
Arriving at Meidling Station from Prague at dusk, we could have taken the Ubahn to Karlsplatz Station (by the Opera House) and walked across the street to our hotel, had we known to do so. Instead, we searched high and low for a taxi stand at the station, which, for some reason, was not easy to locate. Once found, however, it was a short ride.
Hotel Bristol Vienna is a beautifully-appointed Biedermeier building dating from 1892. Hotel legend has it that Russian Composer Anton Rubenstein was the first to sign the hotel’s guestbook. By 1900, Agard’s Guide to Austria was describing the hotel as a “fashionable residence of the elite of European and American society, situated in the most central and convenient part of the city,” noting 200 reception and bedrooms, 270 windows, central heating and Otis lifts. The guide also noted “magnificent public halls such as dining, reading, ladies, conversation, smoking and billiard rooms.” Hotel Bristol Vienna also had a French restaurant, with musical entertainment during lunch and dinner.
Today the public rooms of the Hotel Bristol Vienna are still magnificent. Coming in from the street, the richly appointed outer lobby is where you will find the doorman, 24 hour concierge and a magnificent 18th century Dutch grandfather clock with a melodious quarter hour chime.
Proceeding into the grand main lobby, your check-in process is complete at the Hotel Bristol Vienna when you are presented with an electronic room key on a heavy long brass fob. You return your key to the desk when you go out, and it is stored in a special drawer behind the desk until you return, where it is presented to you with a smile before you can blurt out your room number. Now that’s old-fashioned service!
There are two ways you can ascend to your room. We were on the third floor, so initially we opted for the lift. This lift might better be called a moving mini-lounge, dressed up as it is with tufted leather seats for the exhausting two minute ride to your floor! But later, we realized taking the opulent stairway up and down was more of a treat.
But what about the room? Oh, the room at the Hotel Bristol Vienna! We were in a “classic room,” which starts at around 290 euros per night. We paid with SPG points (12,000 per night as of this writing). Our room faced the hustle and bustle of Kaertner Strasse. But not to trifle your mind anticipating we suffered from street noise, as you’ll see in a minute. First, open the door with your old school fob key, and step into your room’s foyer. Yes, your room’s foyer, decked out in Eton stripes, with heavily-veined Calacatta and Nero Maquinia marble, and an umbrella should you have forgotten yours.
The classic room is spacious by European standards, about 30 square meters, and bedecked with elegant details: chandelier, fireplace mantel, comfortable easy chair, and a variety of built-ins. The mood is richly, but quietly, elegant. The CD player is queued up with Strauss waltzes, the desk is sized for comfortable computing, and the flatscreen TV at 32 inches is large without overpowering. We were amazed by the quality of the built-in cabinetry in the two closets.
On the floor at bedside was an Egyptian cotton cloth with terry slippers. The walls were decorated with padded silk fabric panels, and the draperies were interlined and layered. If this feature proves insufficient to sight and soundproof your sleep, an exterior window shutter will glide smoothly closed at the flick of a switch. In the opulent bathroom, we found Bulgari toiletries and luxurious robes. This bathroom was exquisitely detailed with heavy nickel and ceramic fixtures. The marble detailing was almost over the top. Almost. 🙂
Up until this point in our trip, we’d stayed in lovely and luxurious hotels, but the Hotel Bristol Vienna took our experience to an entirely new level. They’ve had years of practice on famous guests: Opera star Enrico Caruso, dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, Ottoman’s Imperial Sultan, Nobel winning English novelist John Galsworthy, George and Ira Gershwin, and Richard Simon (of Simon and Schuster, there to negotiate an agreement to publish a little story called “Bambi”). All sorts of Indian maharajahs, at least two Princes of Wales, President Theodore Roosevelt, and even American Indian Big Chief White Horse Eagle have stayed at the Hotel Bristol Vienna.