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Most Famous Guests: Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Emperor Franz Joseph I, Charlie Chaplin.
“Stay at the Imperial and feel like an Emperor,” said Charlie Chaplin during his visit, and that just about sums Hotel Imperial up.
Completed in 1866 as a residence for Duke Philipp of Württemberg the neo-classical Palais Württemberg, as it was known, was within 10 years transformed into the Imperial, a hotel that quickly became known as Vienna’s finest and grandest.
Not much has changed – Hotel Imperial has still such a reputation, and has managed to retain the ambience of the grand old days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with its ornate marble, hand-carved statues and massive crystal chandeliers, while subtly adding modern facilities and comforts along the way.
The service here is consistently impeccable and its Michelin-star restaurant, the OPUS, is considered one of the very best in Vienna, be sure to try at least one evening meal.
There are 138 double/twin rooms in total, 62 of which are suites, a much higher proportion than usually found in, even the most luxurious hotels, and thus are relatively good value compared to rooms. The suites are really a cut above, and if you need extra convincing; a stay at a suite includes your own personal butler. Check your options on the booking page here.
The place was originally a palace residence rather than a built-for-purpose hotel and so almost every room and suite is different. What they all have in common though is a generous amount of space; even the cheapest of rooms will be at least 30 m², with the most grandiose of suites, the Royal Suites, coming in at a whopping 150m².
The general ambience and style are old-fashioned, Belle Epoque-era luxury with the odd bit of mid-20th century thrown in. There are contemporary touches too of course, and contemporary facilities and comforts; air conditioning, sound systems and extra-large cable TVs for example, but despite this, the place never strays far into modernity and has an infectious air of elegance that no modern hotel can ever match.
In some similarly historic hotels the bathrooms can be more distinctly contemporary but not here; the grand old marble bathrooms, though now with heated floors and rainforest showers (plus bathtubs), continue the Belle Epoque theme.
The service is outstanding and has an air of civility and formality that also belongs to another era. Every guest is treated with a respect and courtesy that, for anyone more used to contemporary hotels, can almost take a bit of getting used to.
And the staff are impeccably turned out too; The porters wear smart uniforms and caps, the maids wear traditional aprons and when the butler turns up at your door there will be no confusion as to who he is either.
Check out all the details – prices, reviews and more photos – on the booking page here.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
In-hotel dining and drinking options include the old Imperial Café which serves up classic Viennese cuisine all day and some delicious cakes, teas and coffees.
It also serves as the breakfast room for the hotel and throughout the day it sees a busy passing trade, having long been the place to see and be seen for some of Vienna’s most wealthy residents.
It is particularly lively before performances at the, right next door, Wiener Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
The OPUS restaurant too has been making waves in the city in its re-interpretation of Austrian classics for the modern age. In 2016 it won its first Michelin Star and though a relatively new addition to the hotel it too has a classic dining ambience.
The very elegant 1873-Halle-Nsalon Bar serves high-class cocktails as well as a range of beers, wines and other drinks.
It regularly hosts small jazz and classical music performances and the atmosphere is thoroughly refined, though also somehow relaxed and intimate.
If you tire of such indulgences the fitness and health studio awaits you on the rooftop. It is open 24 hours, has a state-of-the-art gym & sauna and also offers fitness classes and massage services.
The Hotel Imperial has an expectedly choice location; right at the heart of the city, the Ring Boulevard, and is a great base for exploring this amazing city.
As previously mentioned the hotel is next door to the Wiener Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and also near the Wiener Konzerthaus, the State Opera, the Church of St. Charles and the Kärntner Straße shopping street to name but a few well known points of interest.
There is an excellent concierge service at the hotel and you can arrange tickets for all sorts of performances and events during your stay.
Vienna International Airport is less than half an hour from the hotel and limousine transfers can be arranged via the concierge from there or from Vienna’s Central Railway Station which has direct trains, along some very scenic routes, from Salzburg and other cities in Austria as well as Bratislava, Budapest, Munich and many other European cities.
You can also of course come on your accord via taxi or your own car, there are parking facilities available or, if you’d prefer the Metro, the nearest station is Karlsplatz less than 300 meters away.
Work started on the building in 1863 and after three years Duke Philipp of Württemberg had a magnificent Neo-Classical/Neo-Renaissance style palace to call home, right in the imperial centre of Vienna.
The building was designed by architect Arnold Zenetti and was named after the Duke, as Palais Württemberg. For some reason the Duke sold it on after just five years and two years later it would be opened by a new consortium of owners, as a grand hotel, just in time for the 1873 Vienna World Fair.Read more about the history:
Though two stories were added in 1928, the original architecture is, for the most part very much all there, both internally and externally. Though Vienna was bombed heavily during WW2, the hotel remained intact and would even become the HQ of the Russian administration after the war.
Hotel Imperial had a long reputation as being the place to stay in Vienna and over the years saw some very famous guests: the musical heavyweights, Brahms and Wagner, Queen Elizabeth II and Charlie Chaplin being just some examples, but also some less respectable figure in the forms of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
It is said that Hitler had worked here as an informal labourer in his youth and upon the 1938 Anchluss; the annexation of Austria, he returned there as a guest. Mussolini would also stay, in 1943, after being famously rescued from imprisonment in Italy by German paratroopers during Operation Oak. He would only spend one night at the hotel though before being spirited on to Munich.
Before the Anchluss Vienna had, of course, a thriving Jewish community, and in fact a Jewish man by the name of Samuel Schallinger was co-owner of the hotel.
He though was immediately forced out in those dark days and his life came to an end, in 1942, in the Theresienstadt concentration camp near Prague.
This association with the Nazis would soon though be banished into history: In 1998, the famous Holocaust survivor and Jewish activist, Simon Wiesenthal, pointedly chose to celebrate his 90th birthday at the Hotel Imperial. “Hitler is gone. The Nazis are no more,” he said, “but look, we are still here, singing and dancing.”
WHAT OTHER GUESTS SAY:
“The best hotel I have ever stayed in. The staff treat the guests with the utmost respect and the whole experience was unique and wonderful. It made our holiday in Vienna perfect…”
“From the incredible baroque architecture to the chandeliers everywhere, an amazing large room, marble bathroom – literally everything was outstanding! I love heritage properties, and this was amongst the best I stayed in, compared with Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires and Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra!..”
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- Kärntner Ring 16