My wife and I arrived at this stunning structure yesterday after a painful Ryanair flight (damn you BA for discontuinuing your direct BTS route!) and were reminded immediately of the warmth and intelligence of Slovakian people. The taxi driver might have looked like a thug, but he was honest, polite, professional and courteous; "good choice - Kempinski number one hotel in Slovakia. Bratislava Castle number one caslte in Slovakia. Your holiday is number one." And so we commenced our first anniversary break with renewed optimism.
Before entering the lobby we saw the Rolls Royce Phantom (Black Edition - only 25 made we were told) parked outside ready to whisk guests (only once per day, we later learned) into the old town in comfort and style. The interior public spaces in the hotel are world class. Not overly opulent or grandiose, just tastefully elegant, clean and serene. All three girls working behind reception when we arrive were friendly, professional and sincere in their warmth. It was a welcome greeting after our flight.
Once inside the room itself - an executive room on the highest floor overlooking the river, we were reassured that the fixtures and appointments in this hotel were as classy as advertised here on TA and on their website. Its a 2010 build, everything feels of a high quality, new and pristine. We were further impressed by the standard of English spoken by everyone in the hotel - even the maid and porter spoke near-perfect English. I've never encountered that level of communication skills in a non-English speaking country. They speak better English here than in most British hotels and that is no exaggeration.
Specific observations that, taken together, imply that this otherwise gorgeous hotel is not yet quite there in five star execution:
1. We made it very clear that this was a special occasion for us - our first wedding anniversary. In fact today is the actual anniversary and this five star hotel has done nothing to acknowledge this special occasion. Its possible this is because a large portion of the guests are here on business and they're more used to catering to the business traveler but it feels a little strange to be staying in a five star hotel where mgmt make no gesture of acknowledgement of something very special to their guests on the executive floor.
2. The spa staff, while again very well spoken and generally polite (although I found one girl quite confrontational - noticing I'd moved from the gym to the pool without removing my trainers, she declared "you can't walk around the pool area wearing shoes." Leaving aside the fact that there's a more polite and delicate way of informing the guest of a policy (there are no signs to this effect) without chastising him, she herself was wearing shoes! Furthermore, my wife had planned to spend the afternoon in the spa but they lost out on the revenue from the 3 treatments she planned to receive (microderm ebrasion / facial, body scrub and massage) because it was evident that the staff did not fully understand the treatments, couldn't answer basic questions about them and therefore left my wife feeling uncomfortable.
3. The gym itself is world class. Literally the most impressive array of clean and state-of-the-art equipment I've sen at any gym anywhere in the world, and I travel a lot on business. First surprise - there is no water available for guests in the gym. One must ask for a glass from the reception area and then keep returning to ask for it to be refilled. Call me old fashioned but I don't like to keep interrupting my work out to revisit the reception area and wait for a glass to be refilled. Really easy fix. Also, no english-language magazines in the pool area and a few of the stone slabs are chipped around the perimeter of the pool making it possible for a child to cut their foot.
4. Being on a romantic getaway with my wife I find it strange that we each have our own single sized duvet in an otherwise glorious and comfortable King bed... Hard to spoon / cuddle when you each have your own set of sheets. Odd but not particularly uncommon in Europe, just a minor gripe.
5. The air conditioning / ventilation is quite feeble. Takes hours for the room to cool down and since we're in a south-facing room with a large window, they should really anticipate this issue. I had to go to reception to ask them to adjust the minimum temperature at which my thermostat could adjust.
6. Staff were abruptly punctual in shutting down the breakfast buffet at 1030 on the dot. We felt a little rushed this morning. The selection of cooked items were of a low quality - dry baked beans, cheap little sausages in a region of europe boasting fabulous domestic meats. Bacon also low quality.
In sum, this hotel should be outstanding. But some small service issues are letting them down. I'll post an updated review once our stay is complete since we have two days left, but these are our first impressions after 36 hours.
While the Danube side is the most obvious option, the rooms on the other side are beautiful too and...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
22 June 2012
Thank you for choosing to come for your anniversary to the Kempinski Hotel River Park Bartislava and for sharing your feedback. We are happy you liked the property and appreciated our services delivered to you.
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We value your comments and take them seriously. We believe details are very important and will work on improving them.
Unfortunally, this review is not published in its whole duration, but based on our communication, we appreciate that you enjoyed the small presents we delivered to you to on your special occasion.
We will be happy to welcome you in our hotel again and hope to create the best experience!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC