My flight on Austrian Airlines landed a little late, but since I couldn’t be guaranteed check-in at the hotel until 15h00, I didn’t mind. I hopped on the City Airport Train (CAT) and made my way from the Airport through Wien Mitte to Oper/Karlsplatz U-Bahn Station. Last time I visited, I left the underground from the wrong exit and wandered aimlessly trying to find the hotel. This time I followed the signs to the Opera House and emerged exactly where I needed to be.
I’ve stayed at the Hotel Bristol before and really enjoyed it. I knew I wanted to stay again and I found that the price was a bit more than I wanted to pay, so I used Starwood Preferred Guest Cash+Points for the two nights – which cost 110USD+6,000 points each night. The value was there for me on this stay. I also used two Platinum Suite Night Upgrades to move us from a standard room to an Opera Suite – the same room type I had last time.
I walk into the hotel lobby at around 10h15 and was greeted with a cheery “Good Morning.” After my relative success on the Austrian Airlines flight, I attempted to continue my German language practice. I was tired and it fell apart pretty quickly. The folks working at reception did try to play along, but my mind just wasn’t in it. We finished the check-in process in English.
I was surprised that my room was ready for me immediately. So often, when landing early in the morning in Europe your room isn’t ready for hours – which just makes that first day a struggle. I want a shower, I want to take a quick nap – I don’t want to sit in the lobby and wait and I don’t want to go exploring while feeling all dingy. I was escorted to my room by the bellman and the receptionist. I didn’t need two staffers helping me – I had just a briefcase and a roller bag, but the service was a nice touch.
Our Opera Suite was on the fourth floor of the hotel, looking directly out onto the beautiful Opera building. The huge suite is perfectly appointed to entertain before the opera. As you walk in, you encounter various hallways, leading to the bedroom or the salon.
The salon is large with multiple seating areas, including a small dining area, perfect for a morning breakfast or an afternoon tea. The fireplaces were all faux, but still gave the warmth (both because they hid a radiator and the style) of a bygone era.
When we entered the salon, a Mozart CD was playing. A fitting accompaniment to the room, the view and the overall vibe of the hotel.
The salon has a small, but full bathroom attached (sans bathtub, but with a full shower). This is excellent design when hosting a pre-Opera party, no need for your guests to traipse through your bedroom. It is truly a luxury to have a hotel room with two bathrooms – I love it.
Moving back through the salon to the bedroom, you immediately see how grand the sleeping quarters are. The king sized bed does not dwarf the room itself. An additional sitting area, writing desk and huge closet system also fill this room – but with ample space to maneuver – and to try on various outfits before the opera.
The main bathroom, off the sleeping area, was quite large with double vanities, a walk-in shower, a large separate tub and the requisite toilet and bidet.
There was also another hallway and closet area – you can never have enough closet space when you are hosting a pre-opera party, I guess.
The Hotel Bristol is truly a five-star luxury hotel and one of my favorite Starwood properties in the world. I sure wouldn’t want my home decorated like these amazing Opera Suites, but I do love the opulence and splendor whilst on vacation. The Hotel has quite the history too – as it was first constructed at the end of the 19th Century and hosted many of the world’s most famous people, including Teddy Roosevelt and George Gershwin – who was working on “An American in Paris” while staying here. Most famously the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson stayed in 1936 during their affair.
It wasn’t always sunshine and luxury at the Bristol though. In the early 20th century, Samuel Schallinger, a Jewish businessman, owned a stake in the hotel, but was forced to sell in 1938. He was then deported from Austria to Germany where he died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. A horribly dark part of the rich history of this magnificent hotel.
Vienna is an incredibly easy city to get around – with so many things within walking distance, and a really great transit system – this hotel couldn’t be situated in a better spot. Being just meters from the Vienna State Opera, the U-Bahn, Streetcars, the City Park and countless museums, you’d be hard pressed to find a better hotel.
When I return to Vienna – I don’t know when that will happen, but I know it will soon – I will definitely stay at the Hotel Bristol again. The space is beautiful, the service team is truly stellar and it feels like my home in Vienna.
Where do you stay while visiting Vienna? Which Starwood Property is your favorite in the world?
We decided to take a few days and explore Belgium this spring. We’ve been to Brussels for a layover on our way to Spain a few years ago. We had about 8 hours on the ground and we got out of the airport and explored the City for a few hours – eating waffles, drinking beer, wandering the streets, checking out the pissing statues…you know, a normal day in Brussels.
This time, we are getting out of Brussels straight away, but we aren’t totally sold on where we are going. We figure Bruges is high on the list – it’s one of the dozens of cities called the Venice of the North. I’m also contemplating Ypres, which has some amazing WWI memorials.
Can you help me answer the following questions:
- What cities would you visit?
- Where should we dine / which restaurants?
- Which hotels should make our list?
- Do you have any recommendations on bike tours?
- What areas should we skip entirely?
Looking forward to hearing about your trips and recommendations!