Hyperbolic though it may be, there really is no other way to start this review aside from saying that this is the best hotel I have ever stayed in. I've been to some exceptional properties around the world but this was my first time in Vienna and our group wanted to make the stay memorable. I'm not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination but apparently the Elysian Fields have been relocated to Austria so that they may be confined under the roof of this Kempinski property. It's the only logical explanation because everything about this place is otherworldly, divine and just all around fantastic. Need more proof? In my room was a provided magazine that had an interview with Tony Jaa. This is a man who made a movie where he backflips up an elephant and dives headfirst into a live grenade - he knows ridiculously awesome things when he sees them, and he praised the Kempinski for its luxurious setting and exquisite service. That right there should be enough to convince anyone that this place does not joke around.
We arrived in Vienna at the train station to a gloomy morning full of mist and fog and other dour environmental settings. When our cab pulled up in front of the doors leading into this hotel, it was like we had walked into a completely different climate: bright, elegant fixtures and a combo of classical and modern furniture extend through either set of doors leading inside. A doorman was over in a flash and had our bags prepped for delivery in seconds flat while we scooted out of the rain and into the main lobby. We passed a small floral shop on the left and found a front desk set up that allowed for maximum customer satisfaction via multiple stations fronted by the most polite and engaging hotel staff I have ever seen.
And their politeness extends far beyond the front desk: a gal came around the counter with our room keys and walked us to our rooms for a sort of pseudo orientation. Yes, that's right: the staff volunteered to take us personally to our rooms and show us the nifty bells and whistles at our fingertips. We piled into one of the two elevators opposite the front desk and rode up a couple floors in possibly the quietest lift mankind has ever engineered. You could sleep in it if you were really tempted to do so, I have no doubt.
The rooms are ethereal. For one thing, practically everything is controlled via touchscreen pads located throughout the room: lights, air conditioning, the obligatory "DO NOT DISTURB" notice for the door, etc. That's not even taking into consideration the provided iPad that does everything from giving you complimentary Wi-Fi access to allowing you to get an overview of the various amenities of the hotel. You can also dial down to the concierge and bend their ears for local recommendations (more on that in a second). The beds are dangerously comfortable to the point where you will not want to get out in the morning because, after all, walking away from one of the best night's of sleep you have enjoyed is a tough walk to make. Meanwhile, the bathrooms operate in a similar fashion with touchscreen pads working the bath and shower. The shower was initially intimidating due to the multiple faucets for water and me, being the luddite that I am, was convinced I would find the button that shot bees through the pipes instead of soothing H2O. But even I managed to find a comfortable temperature of water for the showering experience.
The housekeeping staff are all ninjas. That's my only explanation for how efficient they operated. I went down to breakfast one morning for maybe 40 minutes and came back to find the room completely done over. Someone in our other room asked for an ironing board and iron, and while there were currently none available at that time, both were found upon returning after dinner later that night. Seriously: housekeeping ninjas. Or wizards. Either way, they continue the tradition of stellar service.
Actually, service is nothing short of perfection in motion as both concierges we spoke with pointed us toward some wonderful local dining, both Viennese and Italian (we were just about burnt out on Viennese food by this time). And the waitress and bartender operating the lobby and lounge area late at night were also suitably amazing. The late-night menu is practically a full-length novel of mixed drinks, scotches, wines, appetizers and other fanciful indulgences that are delivered with speed and are expertly made. You can flip through a couple coffee table books just sort of sitting out for anyone to enjoy, or plan your next drink… which is how a Sidecar and a round of a 126-proof bourbon somehow came into my digestive tract in the span of 45 minutes. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I could. They also had live DJs the nights we were down there that played everything from Blondie to Simian Mobile Disco. Variety really is the spice of life.
Other notable points of discussion: the breakfast buffet in the morning is massive. I actuality think the room the buffet is in was bigger than most of my college apartments. Breads, meats, fish, eggs, drinks, etc. are yours for the enjoying, and the dining room is run by a cheerful group of servers who can melt any hangover you may be nursing with their personalities and helpfulness. And that vitamin booster they provide you is a nifty bonus: I'm not sure if you do them as shots but I know I did and I woke right up to go partake in the buffet as I walked through a grand dining room flanked by two walls of ivy and greenery. Other eating spots are on the property, as well, but I believe one of them (dinner-centric) closes for a couple months at a time - we were told July 31 was its last night for service in the immediate future, so this one may not be open when you come. We did not try it out but in walking past it, the place was packed. A spa, accessed via a separate spa elevator, is on the property, and from what I heard ranks among the best worldwide. You can also sit out in a grotto-like area immediately atop the lobby in the center of the rooms surrounding it, but due to the weather and not wanting to drown in a torrential downpour, we never went out there.
You really have to struggle to find anything to take the Kempinski Vienna to task over. Yeah, this place does not come cheap but like the old adage says, you (more than) get what you pay for. And as these other reviews on this site can attest, this place has a reputation for excellence for a reason. Sometimes it's okay to believe the hype. And this is easily one of those times.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna - originally built as a hotel for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873 - captivates the visitor with a historic building, modern architecture and contemporary luxury. It is a glamorous hot spot with 152 rooms & suites, 2 restaurants, 1 bar, a large spa and fitness area as well as conference rooms and one ballroom. ... more less
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