Ever dreamt about being an emperor? Well, then Vienna is the perfect city to trigger your dreams and the Imperial is the perfect home base. A magnificent palatial building (it actually was built as a palace), located right on the Ringstrasse (the main road around the city center), you can walk to the opera in about 7 minutes.
Entering the building, you are welcomed in a bright and lavish reception area. However, it is smaller than it seems from the outside. The whole hotel, surprising at it may be at first sight, has an almost boutique-feel. (If you plan to host kinky parties, this is not the place.) The concierge and receptionist greet almost all the guests by name, as I have observed. They are very helpful, unobtrusive and professional and it is a joy to watch them work. If I ever were to conduct a tour showing future hotel staff what a grand hotel should feel like, I would have them spend time at the Imperial reception. And by using old-fashioned keys, you will have to interact with the staff quite a lot.
The hotel has a charming café, rather posh, but not as stiff as you would expect a café inside the Imperial to be like. There you can have a slice of the Imperial Torte, the house cake, so rich that a Sacher Torte seems healthy as a carrot but – in my humble opinion – much better.
The bar was recently re-located to a central lobby area just behind the reception. It is a beauty. If you happen to be at the hotel during one of the balls that take place in the Musikverein (Philharmoniker-Ball, Techniker-Cercle-Ball…), you can walk right through the bar and are there. The Imperial even hosts a (free) champagne reception before the ball. Talking about saving money: the drinks at the ball are so ridiculously overpriced that stingy me went to the hotel in between dances to quench my thirst with Imperial-cocktails to save money (and not to stand in line).
Many grand hotels have a built in disappointment-mechanism: about 15 minutes after standing in awe at the entrance, you enter your room and it looks…well…different. Not so at this hotel: the rooms exploit the building’s grandeur to the fullest but have all modern amenities. The bathrooms are full of marble and tasteful. The only annoying thing is the TV system as it takes you about 5 minutes to click through a complicated menu in order to just watch TV.
Now, I do not know every room and old hotels tend to have very different rooms. But I have been a guest several times and every time was I more impressed.
The last time I visited, I almost spent a week there and I not only felt like a little emperor but it truly felt like home. To me, this is THE grand hotel in Vienna and one of my all-time favorites.
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