Stepping into Hotel Imperial Vienna feels like taking a portal into the past…a past filled with glamorous royalty, glorious balls and brilliant musicians. And it’s no wonder you get that feeling, Hotel Imperial started life in 1863 as a palace built for the Prince of Württemberg and his wife. Only 10 years later it was transformed in to a luxury hotel in time for the universal exhibition and since than has become synonymous with grandeur and perfect service.
Hotel Imperial would be our home in Vienna for the next three nights and it’s safe to say that we were blown away as soon as we entered the grand foyer. Huge glittering chandeliers dripped from the high ceilings, plush red velvet chairs and a grand piano set the stage; my friend Theresa and I already felt like princesses.
Also lining the hallways were grand portraits, reminding visitors of the hotel’s historical past as a political and social hub. The hotel is included in The Luxury Collection and, as with some of the other hotels in the collection, what I loved most about this hotel was the intrinsic link to the city’s past. Boasting a unique location on the famous Ringstraβe near Musikverein Vienna (Viennese Music Association) it has been the temporary home for conductors and composers for the duration of the hotel’s history.
Great names such as Brahms, Mahler and Bruckner were frequent visitors and Richard Wagner set up home here in 1875 playing music and composing all night long on the piano that he had set up in his salon. You can almost hear the beautiful music dancing through the corridors of this majestic hotel as you imagine its past.
There are many wonderful anecdotes from the hotel’s history but one of my favourite’s was that Luciano Pavarotti asked to use the grand piano in the Imperial Hall to practice arias before his performance at the State Opera. With the utmost levels of service the concierge checked with the guests to see if they would mind but of course they were astonished and utterly enchanted.
The foyer opens right into the glamorous 1873 HalleNsalon bar, but I’ll tell you a little more about our time there in my next post.
The Royal Staircase suitably covered by a red carpet leads the way for those famous feet to head upstairs to bed and once again a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
At the end of the staircase is the image of Emperor Francis Joseph I, who famously met with Prince Bismarck at the hotel in 1879.
From the mezzanine level balcony you really take perspective of how lofty the hotel entrance way is. Actually the lobby used to be the driveway for horse-drawn carriages arriving to the hotel and where the Prince’s guests would alight from their transportation. It was only in 1912 that the cobble stones were covered in marble and the entrance way closed off, making the hotel even more private and discreet.
The hotel has seen many changes over the years as continual face lifts and maintenance have kept the rooms looking fresh. The latest was completed in September 2014 with renovations to the ground floor; Café Imperial Wien and 1873 HalleNsalon have been given a spruce up and OPUS restaurant was created.
The private dining rooms were all set up for a ball that day and I could just imagine how these rooms appeared 130 years ago, filled with beautiful ladies and elegant gentleman waltzing the night away. The gorgeous room pictured above, known now as Marmorsall, was actually once part of the horses stables. A careful restoration in keeping with the hotel’s history has given this a look of an imperial palace whilst incorporating modern amenities.
The Festaal room with its beautiful frescoes and shimmering chandeliers is also fit for the grandest ball or banquet.
But I have so much to tell you about this beautiful hotel that I’m going to save the food and restaurant experiences for another post but for now I want to show you the bedrooms.
At Hotel Imperial Vienna even the corridors are grand with full size portraits, elegant furnishings, high ceilings, marble pillars and royal red carpets leading everywhere. This area, known as The Belle Etage, features a painting of the Emperor’s wife, the beautiful Empress Elizabeth.
With Mr S on a ski trip, this time I was with my friend Theresa for a girly getaway and what could be more perfect than two girls playing princesses in the magnificent Elisabeth suite. Named after the aforementioned Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the room was fittingly feminine and beautiful. The Empress, known to her family as Sisi, led a fascinating life and was married to the Emperor at just 16 when he chose her over her sister. She was a beautiful woman but hugely troubled and unhappy for much of her life, her’s is a tragic story and her life has often been compared to Princess Diana’s.
Each one of the Elisabeth suites is different but I loved the blue wall paper and high ceilings in ours.
A spacious bedroom area with floor to ceiling windows framed with silk curtains is connected to a separate salon via mirrored doors.
Delicate sofas, a desk area, high ceilings, and oil paintings give the room that old world charm but the modern amenities such as a large flat screen TV bring you right back into the 21st century.
A pink marble bathroom with Bulgari products and elegant monogramed bathrobes completed the picture. I loved the room and all the furnishings were beautiful and well-maintained, my only minor quibble was the bathroom was a little dated with a shower over the bath instead of stand alone.
Treats awaited our arrival, including the world-famous Imperial Torte! Now Vienna is well-known for its coffee and cake culture, and trust me you’ll be seeing a lot more cake in my upcoming posts but we were excited to get our first taster as soon as we entered the room.
The story goes that a kitchen apprentice created the Imperial Torte in honour of Emperor Franz Joseph I when the Hotel Imperial opened. The recipe is, of course, top-secret but a combination of chocolate, marzipan, almonds and cacao makes the perfect confection that has international demand.
One thing that really sets the Hotel Imperial Vienna above the other luxury hotels in the city is the private butler service that is offered. As well as a packing and unpacking service, the butler is there to help with any other detail for your stay.
Every day at around 4.30 he hand delivers treats on a silver platter…the first day it was savoury canapés and the second a selection of sweets.
As you know, I love having a good nose around a hotel and we were thrilled to be given a tour of the hotel’s top suites.
Our tour started with incredible split level maisonette suite.
We were told that this room was due to be updated but it was incredibly beautiful as it was; soft pink tones, and a balcony with a view out to the city.
A spiral staircase leads to the upper level where a grand parlour lies…
Next we moved on to an even grander option. There are six Imperial suites and each one is different, the one we were shown housed the hotel’s most valuable chandelier in a vast living area.
As well as a gorgeous parquet floor, honestly the living area was so huge, I could imagine having a ball right here!
I particularly loved the room’s red and gold colour palette which to me really expresses luxury.
But I’ve saved the best until last…quite possibly the grandest hotel suite I’ve ever seen: the royal suite. These rooms were once the private apartments of Prince Phillip of Württemberg and they have housed royalty ever since. With seven metre high ceilings and the most exquisite decor, it’s no wonder that this room has been occupied by heads of state, artists and megastars.
During our tour, the manager told us about the many celebrities that have stayed in the hotel from Michael Jackson, to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Charlie Chaplain and Madonna. But perhaps most prestigious of all, England’s Queen Elizabeth II stayed in this room in 1969, and waved to the crowd from the balcony. Apparently our dear queen was surprised that she would be residing at ‘an ordinary hotel’ during her royal visit but the hotel clearly won her heart as she gave every single member of staff a gift on her departure.
A bed truly fit for a queen!
You’ve probably noticed that every room at the Hotel Imperial has a chandelier but in the Royal Suite, even the bathroom has one!
It’s safe to say that I simply fell in love with Hotel Imperial Vienna. Not just for the incredible service and decor but because the history of the city vibrates from the very walls of the place.
Hotel Imperial Vienna, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Kaerntner Ring 16
+431 50 11 00
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We received two nights complimentary at Hotel Imperial Vienna on a bed and breakfast basis and one night at a media rate.