Vienna to Istanbul via Tokyo: Hotel Imperial Vienna

Introduction
Brussels Airlines Check-in New York JFK
Brussels Airlines Business Class New York to Brussels
Brussels Airlines and SAS Business Class Lounges Brussels
Austrian Business Class Brussels to Vienna
Hotel Imperial Vienna
Austrian Senator Lounge Vienna
Austrian Business Class Vienna to Tokyo Narita
ANA Business Class Lounge Tokyo Narita
Turkish Business Class Tokyo Narita to Istanbul
Park Hyatt Istanbul
Turkish Business Class Lounge Istanbul
LOT Business Class Istanbul to Warsaw
Hotel Bristol Warsaw
LOT Business Class Lounge Warsaw
LOT Business Class Warsaw to Chicago


I had scheduled this trip to have a one night stopover in Vienna, which is one of my favorite cities in Europe. I definitely wanted to stay at either a Hyatt or Starwood property to get a head start on elite qualification for the year, though struggled with where to stay. Hyatt doesn’t have any properties in Vienna, while Starwood has three.

They have a Le Meridien, which I stayed at last time and really enjoyed. Then they also have two Luxury Collection properties, the Hotel Bristol and Hotel Imperial, which are just a couple of blocks apart. Both had “cash & points” availability for my dates, with the former costing 4,800 Starpoints plus $90 (since it’s a category five), and the latter costing 8,000 Starpoints plus $150 (since it’s a category six).

Hotel Imperial is widely considered to be one of the top hotels in Vienna, so I figured it was worth spending the night there. For review purposes you can’t beat a one night stay at a nicer property, so you can experience it without paying an arm and a leg.

After making the booking I went online to see what kind of a suite upgrade it would offer me with a Platinum suite night award, and it seemed that one of the options was an Elisabeth Suite.


Elisabeth Suite description

This is a named suite, meaning it wouldn’t ordinarily be part of the Platinum upgrade “pool” day of arrival, so I decided to use a suite night award to confirm the upgrade. It confirmed five days out, which I was delighted about. I did find the following email offering me a further upsell pretty funny, though:


Not sure 2,000 Starpoints is all that much of an incentive here…

Upon my arrival the weather in Vienna was pretty interesting. There was snow on the ground, though it was 50 degrees outside, so it was oddly pleasant.

Once at the hotel I was welcomed by the bellman (who the guy at check-in joked has been at the hotel since it’s pre-opening 140 years ago) and directed to check-in.


Hotel exterior


Hotel entrance


Hotel signage

The lobby is extremely “classic.”. It was small enough so that it felt uncomfortable walking in and out, as all eyes were on you.


Lobby

I had heard that service at this hotel was pretty snooty/cold unless you’re an uber-VIP, so I think I lucked out with the guy I got at check-in, who was overly friendly (while I can’t say the same about the other employees I encountered).

He welcomed me, confirmed I had used my suite night award for the Elisabeth Suite, and gave me the choice of Platinum amenities (I selected breakfast, which is served in Cafe Imperial). He then walked me to my room, which was 078 on the first floor (and that’s European first floor, as in one floor above the ground level).

The hallways felt like they were a bit past their prime, though I must say the room was in immaculate condition.


Hallway


Room entrance

At the entrance was a large foyer and guest bathroom with toilet and sink.


Foyer


Guest bathroom

Then a separate door lead to the living room, which featured a seating area with a small couch and two chairs. There was also a desk near the window.

I usually love modern so I can’t say I really liked the decor, though I knew that full well coming into my stay, and I must say that it was at least “mint condition” classic, which I often don’t find to be the case at older hotels.


Living room


Living room

There was also a welcome gift sitting on the table along with a printed card.


Welcome gift

The downside to having a room on the first floor is that the views sucked, and looked directly into the building right across the street. As a result I had my shutters closed for most of my stay, since people across the street could look directly into my room. The shutters are controlled electronically and take a good couple of minutes to shut.


View (or lack thereof) from my room

The living room was separated from the bedroom by a faux sliding door. I say “faux” because I don’t think the door actually moved, but rather was just decorative. Or maybe it was stuck. Who knows.


Bedroom looking towards living room

The bed was extremely comfortable with great bedding too.


Bedroom


Turndown service water and chocolate

Then there was the bathroom, which was massive, with double sinks, a tub, a walk-in shower, toilet, and bidet. It was stocked with Bulgari amenities, which are my favorite.


Double sinks


Bulgari amenities


Bathtub


Shower


Bulgari shower amenities


Toilet


Bidet

And of course to go with the theme of the rest of the room, the bathroom also had a chandelier. That’s three for three.


Bathroom chandelier

While the wifi is usually 29 Euros per day, it was complimentary as a Platinum guest. The speed was reasonably good, better than I’ve found at most ancient hotels.

As far as the hotel’s other facilities go, there’s a business center on the first floor. Most importantly it had bottled water, and I must have grabbed about a dozen from there since there wasn’t enough in the room.


Business center


Bottled water

There’s also a gym on the sixth floor, which can be accessed by taking the elevator to the fifth floor and taking the staircase up from there. The gym was tiny and the treadmill was broken, which was disappointing. Again, it had plenty of free bottled water, which is a plus.


Walkway to gym


Gym


Gym


More water!

I spent much of the afternoon and evening strolling Vienna, as the weather was gorgeous. It was in the 50s with snow still on the ground, so a beautiful setting. And the hotel does have a very good location for walking around Vienna, as it’s not far from the main pedestrian zone.


Vienna at night

The room’s keys are interesting in that they have what’s essentially a heavy paperweight attached to the end of them. It later occurred to me that I was probably supposed to leave it with the front desk whenever I left, though I never thought of doing that.


Room key

In the morning I had breakfast at Cafe Imperial, which is open daily from 7AM till 11AM for breakfast. The restaurant is super old-fashioned, and actually reminded me of the restaurants in the villages in Germany where much of my family live. Good memories.


Cafe Imperial entrance


Cafe Imperial


Cafe Imperial

The spread was really good, with fruit, all kinds of fresh breads and pastries, cheese, meat, cereal, muesli, yogurt, etc. There was even champagne. On the whole it was a pretty unbeatable Platinum breakfast.


Buffet


Buffet


Buffet


Buffet


Buffet


Buffet


Breakfast

I’m really happy I spent a night at this hotel. It really isn’t my style, given that I prefer modern hotels, and I must have been the youngest guest by about 40 years. There was also something just a bit uncomfortable about the hotel, given that there’s no way to walk through the lobby without getting glared at. Service at the hotel was a bit “uppity” for the most part, but I think that’s to be expected at high-end European hotels.

That being said if you’re into classic hotels and don’t mind paying the high price for them, this is definitely a solid option in Vienna. And I must say the Platinum treatment was excellent (though I did use a suite night award), so they get points for that as well. I feel more comfortable at Le Meridien so would probably return there, especially since I loved the room I had with a balcony. Or maybe I’ll try the Hotel Bristol, given that it seems to be a cheaper version of the Hotel Imperial, to see how it compares.

How you can use points for a stay at Hotel Imperial Vienna

Hotel Imperial is a category six Starwood property, and won’t be impacted by the March 5, 2013 Starwood category changes.

If you can find cash & points availability, this property costs 8,000 Starpoints plus $150 per night if booked before March 5, and starting March 5 it costs 10,000 Starpoints plus $180 per night. An outright points redemption at this property costs 20,000-25,000 Starpoints per night, with the fifth night free.

The best way to earn Starpoints is through the Starwood American Express Personal Card and the Starwood American Express Business Card.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through the above Starwood American Express links — thanks for your support!)

Comments

  1. The Mystery Traveler says

    Thanks for reviewing the hotel. I have a trip to Vienna planned later in the year, and was considering this hotel. But given the price, I’m looking at staying at the Ritz Carlton Vienna.

    Any thoughts on the hotel?

  2. lucky says

    @ The Mystery Traveler — I’ve never stayed there, though it looks beautiful from the pictures. Like the contemporary design.

  3. says

    Very old skool hotel. Stayed here a while back on a FHR rate, was upgraded to a nice sized deluxe room on the 4th floor looking straight onto the Kartner Ring. Most definately a better view than what you had there. The decor of my room was also not so classical as that of your suite. The bathroom in my room was enormous as well. I think I prefer the upgrade deluxe room with better view than the suite here.

    Parked my car directly in front of the hotel with no worries whatsoever. There is a small service road between the hotel and the Ring road that makes parking a snap.

    The Bristol is across the Ring next to the Opera and while distinguished doesn’t quite exude the aura of the Imperial. Though it looks like they have redone some of their rooms in art deco style which is a bit more modern.

    We had a dining credit with our booking which we used at the Imperial Restaurant. Very nice, of course, proper, multi course meal. Stuffy for sure, but fun to do from time to time.

  4. Alan says

    Thanks, good review – very classical decor but good to see it was generally all very well maintained. Did have a bit of a chortle at you having to explain what 1st floor means ;-)

  5. The Mystery Traveler says

    Thanks for your input.

    For almost 100 Euros less per day on the days I’m looking at, the Ritz seems like a no brainer. Too bad the hotel doesn’t participate with Virtuoso.

  6. Beachfan says

    Nice report.

    I usually just ask for more water (and conform that it’s complimentary). Usually ask for four bottles.

  7. Murphy says

    @ Lucky

    Thanks. And very nice report (probably could have included that before my abrupt question ;) )

    When speaking with native Austrians, do you have to change to a Standard German dialect in order to understand each other?

  8. lucky says

    @ Murphy — Not really. I can understand the Austrian German dialect, and they can usually (hopefully!) understand me.

  9. Tom says

    Last time I stayed at Hotel Bristol I was upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite with a separate living room and dining room with views over the Opera House. Loved it.

  10. lucky says

    @ Jay — I tend to think that if it’s a front desk associate you don’t have to, and definitely not somewhere like Europe, where tipping isn’t expected.

    That being said, if it’s a bellman, it’s a different story.

    But I didn’t tip the guy that walked me up.

  11. Leigh says

    I stayed here last year and seem to have had a different experience than you. I never felt uncomfortable or was glared at in the lobby, and the staff was extremely friendly and helpful to me. I also prefer the decor; I don’t see the appeal of modern. But that’s just personal preference.

    I’ll be back in Vienna this fall and will be staying at the Hotel Bristol this time around.

  12. Murphy says

    @Zz – I realize that, and was the reason behind my question. I’m guessing it’s pretty automatic and natural to transition to High German when needed.

  13. Jo says

    I backpacked around Europe and really did not enjoy Austria at all. We found the people there to be really rude and unwelcoming. I’m curious why you like Vienna so much. I wonder if your ability to speak German helps?

  14. Michael T says

    The Hotel Imperial was one of the great hotel stays of our lives two years ago. It was my 50th birthday, so you would not have been the youngest by 40 years unless you’re younger than I thought. As a plat, we were upgraded to the junior suite…while I was hoping for a crazy great upgrade for my birthday (like your Elisabeth suite), we really, really liked the junior suite and it was perfect for our stay. (And it had a view.)

    I would term the service “reserved,” but that fits in with Vienna. The concierge did get us a great box at the opera with little advance notice. I suppose the modern vs classic look is a matter of taste (although I like both), but I would certainly hope that a historic building like the Imperial would have a classic style.

    I was really looking forward to your review and was glad you stayed here and wrote about it. I enjoyed this post very much.

  15. Michael T says

    @Jo, I suppose it depends on what you like in a city, but Vienna has wonderful history, architecture and a great classical music scene. Plus the city is a very manageable size for tourists.

    I don’t think the Austrians will win any awards for friendliness, but personally I never found anyone rude.

  16. stephan says

    No tap water is tap water. Bottled water is usually sparkling mineral water by default in northern Europe, but you can have plain bottled water – Still – like in the photo.

  17. Jo says

    You should go more often to France…
    What is served at the Imperial buffet-breakfast is “Sekt” !
    Just perfekt to clean silverware :-))

  18. wwk5d says

    “on the first floor (and that’s European first floor, as in one floor above the ground level)”

    Just a tip, they do that in many countries outside of Europe as well…

  19. Murphy says

    @ theblakefish – I don’t think so. I think he owns a drone that he controls from the hotel to go out and take the pictures of the Fußgängerzone.

  20. Ryan H says

    We stayed two nights in Vienna last year, one at Le Meridien and one at Hotel Imperial.

    Given the choice if we returned, I would choose Le Meridien, despite the bathroom flooding when we showered due to a clogged drain (they were very apologetic). Le Meridien staff were very friendly, whereas the staff at Hotel Imperial were indeed a little snooty. Though, it probably didn’t help that we are young and had 50L backpacks instead of actual luggage.

    I also hit up the business center and nabbed a bunch of extra waters! Good tip for anyone staying here.

    Another good tip for anyone visiting Vienna is that Le Meridien down the street rents Vespa scooters for 25 Euro for a full 8 hours (as of June 2012). You don’t even have to be a guest to rent from them. It can be a bit daunting driving around the ring on a Vespa, but it was my favorite thing we did there other than the cheap seats at the Opera. We had an overall bad experience in Vienna and are hesitant to return.

  21. Hamurabi2008 says

    Good review, Lucky. Thanks!

    Was the marble flooring heated in the bathroom? Otherwise it could feel very cold during the winter season…

  22. lucky says

    @ Hamurabi2008 — Yes, I believe it was. I may be going crazy, but I think the floor was heated? Or maybe I’m mixing it up with somewhere else.

  23. Ivan Y says

    May stop by in Vienna for a day or two on a way to Prague so was thinking of staying in either of the two Starwood high-end properties (this or Hotel Bristol) but since people like LM, will take it into consideration as well. Although, its C&P price is the same as Bristol, so perhaps Bristol might be a better value for the money.

    Quick question – since none of the three SPG hotels in Vienna have Club rooms, aren’t they supposed to offer you free breakfast on top of a selected platinum amenity? Or is that only in those hotels where Club lounge exists but is closed for some reason and they have to make it up to you?

  24. lucky says

    @ Ivan Y — With Starwood you choose between breakfast or the 500 points as the Platinum amenity. It’s Hyatt that offers Diamond members restaurant breakfast plus 2,500 bonus points when the club lounge is closed.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *