A bottle of Laurent-Perrier on ice, a dozen pink roses and a Bristol Torte awaited my arrival. Welcome to luxury, Vienna style. In a city full of imperial palaces, opera houses, gardens and the infamous Blue Danube, the Hotel Bristol does a spectacular job of making its guests feel like Austrian nobility.
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, resided here for a period of time. Given that his first residence was the White House, I think that says a lot.
The Hotel Bristol is a pure architectural gem in a city which I consider to be a gem of Europe. Once the capital of the vast Austro-Hungarian empire, Vienna remains an elegant city with a grand visual aesthetic that complements its hot, stormy summers and cold, blustery winters. Sigmund Freud, Mozart, and Beethoven all called Vienna their home. Yet Vienna is surprisingly off-the-radar of many North American tourists who opt for the more typical European hubs like Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome.
Maybe that’s part of what makes it so unique.
Feeling culturally deprived in Toronto, I decided to spend my birthday in Vienna this summer. From the moment I walked through the revolving door and was greeted by the enthusiastic concierge, I knew I had picked the absolute best place to stay in the city.
The Hotel Bristol survived two World Wars and has seen a variety of guests from the rich and famous to the historically significant – Enrico Caruso, Ottoman’s Imperial Sultan, and the Prince of Wales VII are just a few. Best of all, its location on the Kaertner Ring across from the Vienna State Opera is within walking distance of Vienna’s finest treasures – St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Albertina, and the Swarovski flagship store.
Not to mention the second largest Louis Vuitton store in Europe! But who cares about location when you’re staying in a hotel so sumptuous that you don’t want to leave.
The Bristol has a variety of room types, something for everyone. For those who prefer a more modern aesthetic, the spacious Grand Deluxe Room will do. Or for those who want to indulge in the classical Viennese decor (me please!), the Opera Suite and the Penthouse Suite would impress even the most discerning guests.
We stayed in the Chinesischer Salon, one of the Bristol’s Opera Suites. From floor to ceiling, the suite was draped in neo-rococo decor, bright red materials with 18th-century Qing porcelain and Chinese antique lacquer works (hence the name).
The suite felt like a palace within a palace. From the balcony, we watched Viennese socialites pour into the opera house, listened to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriage (Fiaker) drivers take their passengers on tours of the city by sunset. It was, simply, spectacular.
Had the Hotel Bristol been anything short of perfect (which it wasn’t), the exemplary service provided by every staff member would have made up for any shortfall.
The Concierge knew everything, and I mean, everything. Where to find an organic food store open on a Sunday, how many minutes it would take to drive in a taxi to the train station at 4:45pm on a Monday, the best place in Vienna for a schnitzel. This attention to detail extended beyond the helpful Concierge to everyone in the hotel – from the attendants who made sure my ice bucket stayed refreshed, to the bartender who knew just the right cocktail to serve up after a horrendous flight delay.
Everyone knew my name, everyone knew that it was my birthday. Not only did they know, they actually seemed to care. No sarcastic smiles here, genuine kindness.
A girl couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular birthday than the one I spent at the Hotel Bristol in Vienna. As if stepping into a fairy tale, every wish came true, every request was satisfied beyond measure. I was totally, utterly spoiled.
The only moment of disappointment was when handing in my key for the final time and hearing the concierge say Auf Wiedersehen. After four beautiful nights, I really didn’t want to leave.
All I can say is SPG Luxury Collection…you’ve done it again. The search for my go-to hotel in Vienna is over.
To book your stay, visit: www.bristolvienna.com