Oh Vienna. City of music, city of dreams. Second largest “German City” in the world. Once capital of the mightiest empire in Europe, still the EU’s seventh largest. Half a Millennium older than London and much of it a Unesco World Heritage Site. Home to Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis and host to OPEC and the UN at times. Marinated in the elegance of Belle Epoque café culture. The perfect destination for a short cultural city break and for a Park Hyatt Hotel.
I love luxury Park Hyatt hotels, with their blend of elegant design, local flavour, sophistication and gracious service they are in a class apart. We always find ourselves purring as we unwind like cats on a deep velvet cushion when we check in to a Park. With Valentine’s Day approaching, after an intense couple of months’ work, we were keen to escape to somewhere that would offer cultural diversions, was easy to reach and offered a hotel with the right ambience for a romantic retreat. Vienna checked all the boxes (especially as the concierge got us excellent opera tickets) and the Park Hyatt promised a decadent weekend away. The hotel opened in June 2014 following the unbelievably tasteful conversion of the headquarters of an Austrian Hungarian Monarchy Bank, right in the heart of The Golden Quarter. Everything from The Opera to The Spanish Riding School, museums, cafés and the best designer label shops (including Vuitton, Burberry, Hermes) is within easy strolling range of this palace of good taste. The conversion retains many features of the 100 year old Neo-classical building including marble staircases polished by the leather of countless bank clerks’ scurrying brogues. The shape and size of the guest rooms and suites was determined by the layout of the offices and here there were some very important customers, so the proportions are generous.
We stay in a lot of luxury hotel suites around the world, but even we were impressed by the Executive Suite at the Park Hyatt Vienna. The room was generously proportioned with a stunning entry hall featuring the mother-of-pearl mosaic which is a recurring motif in the hotel. Passing the adjoining guest powder room and walk-in cloakroom, we made our entrance through grand double doors to a large lounge complete with dining table for 6, spacious comfortable seating area and desk. The judicious use of mirrors emphasises the sense of space created by very high ceilings and catches the light from the spectacular crystal chandeliers. Through another set of double doors, the bedroom also offered a well-lit dressing table and via a corridor of walk-in wardrobe capacious enough for a more or less permanent stay, led to the huge bathroom, with luxurious under floor heating, enormous rain-shower, twin sinks and temperature-controlled bath. Naturally, a TV in the bathroom mirror and top notch toiletries by Blaise Mautin were also provided. Double height ceilings and vast mirrors again amplify the feeling of space. From the vast quartz marble backdrop to the bath to the hardwood door-frames, no expense has been spared in furnishing the suites. Although the suites are fabulous, the standard or deluxe rooms are also very generous, with a very good bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. All lights, blinds and curtains can be controlled from touch sensitive switch panels which are easy to find and all important controls are repeated on the bedside table. We did find them a little tricky to use at first and had one small fault in our suite which the management were highly apologetic about.
One of our favourite aspects of the hotel is the swimming pool, situated under the barrel ceiling of the old bank vault. The original vault door (think one foot thick plate steel like a James Bond movie) is still in place though you now access the pool via a different route. The pool itself is lined with golden tiles in the shape of gold bricks and with calming piped music under the water, the pool is both warm enough for relaxing and large enough for exercise. A plethora of relaxation areas are also available, from dark cosy corners for two to single loungers that are so comfortable, I wish airlines would use them in first class. Segregated saunas and steam rooms are available in the changing rooms – not so good for couples but a welcome relief to many, who may find the germanic sauna nudity cult a little too foreign! It’s a small complaint, but the spa really is missing a jacuzzi or two and it was unusual that there was no fruit in the relaxation area or seemingly any option to order drinks.
Bank restaurant is a glorious space, with 8m high ceilings and opulent decor. The breakfast offering is of very high quality with many locally sourced ingredients (try the styrian honey). We experienced some inconsistencies of service at breakfast time but in the evening, everything was flawless. The restaurant has a completely different ambience in the evening with lower lighting and the backlit stained glass panels in the roof. Starting with a glass of vintage Moet, with our dinner guests we then enjoyed anis bread-sticks with the most delicious sticky date-like balsamic reduction. The medium-rare venison was so tender as to melt in the mouth and was perfectly paired with the spinach, mushrooms and shaved black truffle that accompanied it. The lamb shank was equally sumptuous and the presentation of the food was simply fine art. For dessert, We stuck to sorbet – mandarin and cassis were tart and fruity, offset by the sweet, creamy coconut. Our german friends enjoyed the Sauerrahmschmarn, a local speciality. It’s a kind of light dough cooked with vanilla sugar and served with ice-cream, jam and poached apple. It looked delicious but we were full by now. We still found room to sample something local from the simply bewildering array of schnapps on the Schnappswagen. Whether staying in house or not, I can recommend dinner in Bank, although it can get busy, so best to book.
Staff in general were gracious, friendly and professional. From check-in, which took place in-room, to check-out, the front of house staff were everything you could wish for. Concierge was also very helpful with obtaining tickets for a heavily sold opera show (with a reasonable 30% commission added). However, deliveries to the room were a little on the slow side. We had to wait quite a while for a bottle of wine. In the end, it arrived with apologies, a complimentary chocolate cake and fresh fruit platter. In all, this didn’t spoil the evening and the additional amenities represented a good service recovery.
Despite the minor service problems, it was a fantastic and luxurious stay and we will definitely return to this hotel. If you fancy a relaxing weekend away with a few shows or museum visits, Vienna is the perfect choice. The Park Hyatt provides a great base to explore and, perhaps more importantly, the perfect hideaway to return to.
Review by my friend Jenny Price at Driven2Travel.
Disclosure: Most of our property, service & product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced by any sponsor.