Do you like culture, gorgeous architecture and gastronomic experiences? Then Vienna might be your perfect destination. sein. And I can recommend a wonderful hotel which is closely linked to the history of this awesome city – the Bristol Hotel, just opposite the impressive National Opera. Here`s where Austria`s society highlight takes place every year – the world-famous Vienna Opera Ball. Needless to say that the Bristol Hotel plays a major role during this event in February. The stage is set!
Photo: The awesome Vienna State Opera, view from the Bristol Hotel - Alexandra Jud
As soon as you enter the hotel lobby, you feel like in a different time. Classy furniture such as an awesome grandfather clock of the 18th century (a gift from Holland) and bare marble all over the place. You look through the lobby right into the splendid art-nouveau restaurant with its stunning decor. And – everything is combined with modern amenities and excellent service as you can expect from a 5star hotel. You will immediately succumb to Vienna`s charm which is particularly incarnated by the elegant hotel director Simone Dulies.
Photo: Lobby View - KHL
The historic building was already opened in 1892 and one oft he first locations in Vienna with an electric lift (still an eyecatcher, as well as the staircase). The Bristol has seen a very changeful history – in 1945 it were the headquarters of the US-American troops. There is an interesting anecdote about this time – the elegant brass balustrade shows a few little dents which are presumably due to hits with the butts of the US soldiers when they walked down the stairs. And the Bristol has seen so many celebrities – from - Puccini, Roosevelt, Toscanini to Brigitte Bardot, Yehudi Menuhin, Luciano Pavarotti, Artur Rubinstein and Desmond Tutu, Wim Wenders, Shirley Bassey, Linda and Paul McCartney, just to name a few. Even Anna Netrebko has stayed for a performance in the State Opera.
Photo: The stunning historic hotel lift - KHL
Guests from all over the world like the Bristol as much as the locals do. You can still smoke in the first American bar in the city. Many locals come to the Bristol after the opera. Here you can also have an original British tea and enjoy hot wine „al fresco“ during the famous Christmas market. I can just imagine how romantic Vienna is during that time of the year – maybe I should plan another visit in December.
Photo: Vienna`s first American bar!
Many of the 150 rooms (thereof 24 suites) will move you back into the splendid time of the „belle époque“. Lots of plush and often a gorgeous view to the State Opera – through curtains which remind of a theater loge. The opera suites and the Prince-of-Wales suite are the ultimate highlights. It is said that King Edward decided here – after a passionate night with Wallis Simpson – not to become Britain`s new king. No doubt that the abundant suite (which today even has an own little gym with sauna and jacuzzi) has inspired him to do so. I believe that was really a good decision.
Photo: The living-room of the Prince-of-Wales-Suite - feels like a movie setup.
I rather prefer modern rooms – so the art-déco suites are a perfect match for my taste. There are ten new art-déco rooms in the suite in the recently opened new wing. Elegant furniture and cool art – just awesome. Every suite has a Nespresso coffee machine – what a treat for an espresso lover such as myself. Needless to say that you have access to WiFi free of charge all over the place. The rather heavy, gold decorated room keys ar pure nostalgia. "If you do not wish to leave your room key at the reception, you will have a little workout“, says Saskia, the charming receptionist, with a smile on her face. I rather leave the key with her and have my workout in the little cute gym on the 5th floor. I am all for myself here – enjoying the view over the State Opera from the treadmill.
Photo: I loved the decor in my suite - KHL
Photo: Gym with a view! - KHL
Many of Vienna`s sites are within walking distance from the Bristol. Just next to the hotel you will find the Kärntner Strasse, Vienna`s high-end shopping street with numerous boutiques, cafés, and the casino. The Stephansdom, Vienna`s impressive cathedral, and major site, is easy to reach. Walking into the opposite direction, you will see splendid facades on your way to the town hall (with a huge ice rink in winter in front of the historic building), the Hofburg and the Parliament. Tough to decide where to look first with so many beautiful buildings around. The charm of this city is just overwhelming. Sure, the Viennoise coffeehouses are part of the city and have a very long tradition. Many writers, artists, and musicians were sitting here to discuss over coffee. The Demel and the Hawelka are two of the most famous ones with a very special ambiance. Both were pretty crowded on the weekend, so I decided to sip my espresso rather in a cool, modern café in the beautiful (caffecouture.com) in der Ferstel passage. Sure, there are also trendy and very cool bars and coffeeshops in this traditional city.
Photo: So elegant - the Ferstel passage - KHL
My tip: spend an afternoon in the restaurant „Bristol Lounge“ of the hotel. The caring head waiter (wearing a tailcoat!) serves awesome coffee specialties and the rich in calories Bristol cake which I even prefer over the famous Sacher cake. Alexandra Jud, the charming Social Media Manager of the hotel, explains the ingredients of this tasteful specialty: Nougat, crumb, butter, sugar, lemon, vanilla pudding, caramel, hazelnuts, egg white, Dotter, Mehl, white chocolate, marzipan, dark chocolate, gelatine, marmalade. Oh my god – no wonder that I am saturated until late night. Thinking about my workout session earlier that day I feel a bit less guilty. And by the way ... if you are on a diet, the Austrian cuisine may just not be right for you. Lots of meat, abundant sweets such as the famous Kaiserschmarrn, a sweet pancake. However, if you are a vegetarian or if you prefer fish, you will also find a great choice of meals at the Bristol. In the evening I enjoyed a regional wild salmon with a glass of excellent Merlot. The rich breakfast buffet does not leave any desire open – I particularly liked the shaved radish and the fig mustard, both with cheese - mouthwatering! As always, I could spend hours having breakfast but there is so much to do and see.
Photo: Simply delicious - the Bristol Cake! - KHL
Summary:Vienna is simply wonderful. The charm of a splendid past with all modern amenities, including cool new bars and restaurants. Very friendly people and a perfection which is usually attributed to my home country Germany. On top, the city is clean and pretty safe (that`s at least my impression). The comfortable CAT trains take you from the airport to downtown within just 16 minutes. From there the Bristol is only two subway stations away (if you do not wish to take a cab). Everything works perfectly. And the Bristol is the perfect place to explore Vienna. Charme, lots of history and culture, great service and modern comfort. See you again soon, lovely Vienna. I am sure I will be back.
For more information on the hotel visit bristolvienna.com
Photo: KHL with the Head Concierge in front of the historic clock - Alexandra Jud
Photo: Art nouveau at its best - the Bristol Lounge
Photo: KHL with Alexandra Jud, Social Media Manager at the Bristol
Photo: Partial view of the Austrian Parliament - KHL