The No Compromise Hotel
Hotel Imperial Vienna. If you want to goldframe your special trip, go for the boundless luxury of this hotel. Unless you are Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Sultan al Kabeer, Hotel Imperial is ‘out of the ordinary’. I spent a night there – here is what you can expect.
‘Cool’ is an unword at Hotel Imperial. Old-world exuberance and classical European culture reign proudly and without affectations. The lobby sparkled with chandeliers, giant paintings of the Austrian Emperors, and marble surfaces. A receptionist checked me in using that respectful informality that makes you feel both special and welcome.
The Imperial is Austria’s official residence for state visits. For almost 150 years, it has been run over by celebrities, doyens of classical music, senior politicians and business people from all over the world; from Charlie Chaplin to George Michael, from J.F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton to the Queen Elizabeth II and the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
Hotel Imperial’s interiors are on a par with Schönbrunn Palace and the Imperial Palace (Hofburg). Plus, you are allowed to rest your head and are fantastically looked after. Most of the 138 rooms and suites boast historic paintings, upholstered French-style furniture in vibrant colours, soft pastelled silk wallpaper, glitzy chandeliers, gold-plated mirrors, marble bathrooms, and heavy brocade curtains with huge tassels.
My Own Four Walls
If you had grown up in Vienna, my room would have made you feel equally nostalgic. It brought back those Saturday afternoon 1940s soap operas of Empress Maria Theresia, Empress Sissi and the Congress of Vienna. If Viennese feel nostalgic at the Imperial it’s because this site displays classical values in an authentic setting: the blue silk wall paper, the rich stucco ceilings, the upholstered Empire-style chairs, the romantic flower paintings…
Elegant is often uncomfortable. My bed was different. Where do I get such a heavenly mattress?
I make as many demands on a good bed as on connectivity. Wifi, which is free throughout the hotel, worked seamlessly, phew.
Are you a fan of great bathrooms, too?
My favourite detail was the marble bathroom’s frosted shower door decorated with the house’s embleme. I got quickly used to walking on the heated marble floor to make more extravagant observations…
A note aside: If you upgrade to a suite, you can get your personal butler service. Upon arrival, he will hand over your personal business cards with the Imperial’s address. He will iron your morning newspaper, clean your shoes, unpack and pack your suitcases, prepare a rose petal bath, and advise and accompany you on antiquities shopping trips if requested.
Breakfast – What Shall I Tell You
Along with bathrooms and Wifi, breakfasts are mission-critical for a good hotel stay. A Viennese hotel is only as good as its bread and cake selection. The proof that Imperial was serious about this wasn’t so much the impressive amount of fresh viennoiseries and cakes, but two very distinct features: the handmade irregular rolls (‘Kaisersemmeln‘) and a wonderful traditional nut strudel that I last had at my late Viennese grandmother’s. Here is part II of my breakfast: Kaisersemmeln with honey, a soft egg, Staud’s jams, and a melange.
Have Your Own Cake And Eat It
The Imperial includes a traditional café and restaurant, serving classical Viennese cuisine. Most importantly for cake connoisseurs, the Imperial Torte is the secret queen of Viennese cakes for many locals:
A square shaped multi-layered chocolate cake wearing a thin coat of marzipane and chocolate which is decorated with an embleme of the Imperial Eagle. I tried it long ago and made it my favourite Viennese cake.
Other Things To Know About Hotel Imperial
The hotel was initially built as the residence for the German Duke of Württemberg in 1867. At the occasion of the World Exposition 1873 it was transformed into the Hotel Imperial, as the Duke and his wife did not feel comfortable there (hard to believe).
At the end of World War II, the Hotel Imperial Vienna was used by the Russian Allies as their headquarters (the British used Hotel Sacher). It is located right next to Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and location of the famous New Year’s Concert.
Note: I was invited by Hotel Imperial. All opinions expressed are my own.