In his 1888 guide ‘A Holiday Tour in Austria’ H Pelham Stoke wrotes ‘The best hotels in Vienna are the Grand Hotel and the Hotel Imperial. The best hotel for dining is the Imperial hotel.’ A standard of excellence that has stuck with the hotel for the next century with every meal abiding by the hotels codes of service.
Many people travelling to Vienna will be keen to experience the Viennese Coffeehouse Culture and the Hotel Imperial Vienna is the perfect place to do it.
Established in 1873, Café Imperial Vienna (also known as Café Imperial Wien) is one of the oldest coffeehouses in the Vienna. It was a favoured haunt for composers such Anton Bruckner and his rival Johannes Brahms, renowned novelists, philosophers and even Sigmund Freud found inspiration here. Many visited the café so frequently that they used the address for correspondence instead of their home.
With the hotel’s recent restoration, the café has been given a new look that is still in keeping with tradition and Theresa and I were excited to try the traditional Austrian food of executive chef Rupert Schnait.
My selection of salmon was a generous portion size and complimented well with dill mustard and horse radish sauce.
While Theresa enjoyed the beef carpaccio on truffle dressing with rocket salad.
As we were keen to try a few of the Viennese specialities, our waiter suggested a few half portions.
There was no way that we could miss the famous Wiener Schnitzel as the classic dish made up of breaded and deep-fried escalope of veal has been dubbed one the best in town. It didn’t disappoint as the meat was juicy and not too fatty.
We also really enjoyed the saddle of lamb, cooked beautifully with walnut crust, olive polenta and green beans.
The Tafelspitz is another Austrian classic, we both agreed that we weren’t huge fans of the boiled beef though we really enjoyed the accompanying hash browned potatoes, cream spinach, apple horse radish and chive sauce.
And now the bit we’d really been looking forward to: dessert. We were planning to come back for coffee and cake so we bypassed these choices on the menu and opted for one of the ice cream creations.
We ordered three ice creams (I promise I do these things for you, my readers…)…
Fortunately each was very light and we just had a taste… Viennese Iced coffee or chilled coffee with vanilla ice-cream and whipped cream.
Coupe ‘Romanoff’ Vanilla ice-cream with marinated strawberries and whipped cream.
And strawberry iced cream with mixed berries. The ideal way to end our meal.
A breakfast befitting an emperor is also served in the Café Imperial Vienna and there’s the option of à la carte or a selection from the extensive buffet.
The bread here is fantastic and we had a wonderful selection both at dinner and breakfast, along with some delicious pastries.
Meats and cheeses…as well as omelettes made to order.
But best of all, there’s a ‘help-yourself’ bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne on the buffet. And trust me we did every day. More than once.
Coffee and cake is practically a religion in Vienna and a stay wouldn’t be complete without trying the hotel’s offerings. The full selection of cakes is served from midday and they are put on display in the café in order to whet you appetite.
A vast selection of cakes and pastries are on offer including Vienna Apple Strudel and of course, the famous Imperial Torte.
I explained the legend of the Imperial Torte in my previous post, we’d already tried the original torte in our room but at the cafe there are two further choices; Torte Mozart Edition and the Imperial Torte Schwarze Orange. We made our selections from the menu and eagerly awaited our cakes.
A raspberry chocolate cake made of the fluffiest, lightest mousse on a cocoa biscuit was just delicious.
As was the vanilla-berries dome, though billed as meringue on biscuit, actually the bottom layer was more like a cake. These stunning creations are the work of in house Chef-Patissière, Katherina Kurz, who hails for the Weinviertel region in lower Austria and has a great love a respect of the Viennese pastry tradition.
I fell in love with the traditional Wiener Melange coffee when I was in the city. Made with half coffee and half milk, it’s pretty much how I take my coffee anyway. My friend chose her namesake beverage a Kaffee Maria Theresia, made with coffee, Grand Marnier and whipped cream, a hot drink that definitely packed a punch!
The alternative to Cafe Imperial Vienna is restaurant OPUS, still a fairly new addition to the hotel.
We didn’t get a chance to eat there but the Michelin-starred restaurant run by chef Stefan Speiser is apparently a symphony for the senses. With inspiration from Austrian cuisine the restaurant serves light, modern dishes created with local, fresh ingredients.
Finally I want to tell you about the hotel’s lounge bar, the historic 1873 HalleNsalon. Named after its birth year the salon has welcomed the great and good of Vienna for many years.
Quite simply one of the world’s most beautiful hotel bars, the room has the cosy feeling of a library crossed with the grandeur of a ballroom.
A vast chandelier is suspended from the vaulted ceiling, marble lines the wall and everything is accented with gold. I honestly don’t think I can imagine anything more grand.
I loved the bar decorated with musical notes, inspired by the history of the city.
And with so many plush chairs and cosy nooks, I could imagine spending all day here either with one of the books from the shelf or gossiping with my friend.
We chose classical cocktails: an espresso martini and a kir royal…
A perfect way to toast to a beautiful hotel and an utterly fantastic girls getaway.
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. Our coffee, cake, cocktails and dinner at Café Imperial Vienna were complimentary