Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
It's a rare treat to stay in a hotel that looks and feels like a palace. Such is the case with Hotel Imperial in Vienna.
This historic property, now part of Starwood's The Luxury Collection, has been serving as host to dignitaries, queens and emperors since its doors opened in 1873. It was commissioned by the Duke of Württemberg for his wife, but, as the legend goes, she didn't like it (something about it not having a garden). Fortunately, the magnificent building was purchased by the enterprising Horace, Ritter von Landau, who wisely decided to turn it into a hotel. The breathtaking, expansive lobby on the ground floor originally served as stables for guests' horses, and in World War II, it was occupied by the Russians, who made it their headquarters until returning it in 1955. The staff famously hid 150 of the hotel's fabulous Persian rugs -- one by one -- in a Viennese bank to keep them safe during the occupation.
Hotel Imperial has naturally undergone several renovations; the most recent was a 10 million euro project in 2000 which converted the hotel's upper floors, once offices and servants' quarters, into additional rooms. The 138 guestrooms now feature flat screen televisions, electronic key access and beautiful amenities from fresh flowers in the unique living rooms to spacious marble bathrooms stocked with Bulgari products. It is the only hotel in all of Austria which offers butler service.
There are a number of reasons to stay at the Hotel Imperial, ranging from its excellent Ringstrassen location to the charm of each room being different, and the appeal of knowing that great composers premiering their work at the State Opera House down the street, as well as dukes, princesses, kings and presidents have slept, perhaps, in your very room. I'd tell you who, but one can really only name drop when the list isn't very long. I've got a Word document seven pages long in front of me, and the names are in small type.
If you don't have the opportunity to stay in Hotel Imperial, it is worth your time to visit the first-rate dining room for dinner, or even the ground floor cafe for lunch -- be sure and get a signature Imperial Torte and the Imperial Coffee Melange. Who knows, you may catch sight of an important visiting celebrity.
My visit to Vienna was sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own.