Staying at the Hotel Bristol is part of an amazing vacation in Vienna Austria. If you are like us, hotels are not simply a place to sleep and shower; they are a big part of our travel experience. We like feeling special and comfortable when staying at a hotel. We like to immerse ourselves in the destination’s culture, and history and the Bristol played a role in Vienna’s past. Located at one of Vienna’s prime addresses since 1892 the Hotel Bristol is a living example of Viennese charm. Moreover, staying at the Hotel Bristol, you will feel as though you just stepped back in time to the early 20th-century.
Location, Location, Location
When traveling, location can mean everything. The Hotel Bristol Vienna, a Luxury Collection Hotel, is located in the heart of the city across the street from the Vienna State Opera. If you love to shop, the hotel resides on a major shopping avenue. It is also centrally located to all of Vienna’s major sights. The hotel is a 20-minute drive from the Vienna International airport and very close to the train station.
The deciding factor for us when we were making the decision to stay at the Bristol was the history. First of all, the hotel is almost 130 years old. The Bristol has lived through a lot and if only those walls could talk! The Hotel Bristol weathered the war, the Occupation, the Cold War, and the fall of the Soviet empire. During the Occupation, the Bristol was headquarters for the American occupying forces. On a tour of the hotel by Alexandra, we discovered that the staircase railing had many dings in it. According to her, this was because the soldiers would hit the butt of their rifles on the railing as they descended the staircase. When it came time to renovate, the lovely railings with their rich history were kept intact.
Also located in the Hotel Bristol was the American Embassy from 1951 to 1955. So according to the US government, an embassy itself belongs to the country it represents; this means the Bristol was American for four years.
Royal History and Gossip
If you are a fan of the British royals and their history, the Hotel Bristol has a connection there too. The Prince of Wales suite named after Prince Edward VIII (1894-1972), who resided in this suite several times with his one and only love, Wallis Simpson is exquisite. Legend has it that Edward VIII made his decision to abdicate as king and marry Wallis during one of his stays at the Hotel Bristol. If you visit Vienna and are a guest at the Hotel Bristol, ask for a tour of the Prince of Wales suite. It is one of the largest luxury suites in Vienna. And today, two separate entrances transform the amazing Prince of Wales suite into what feels like a comfortable city apartment.
The Bristol Bar
The Bristol Bar is the first American Bar in Vienna. What is an American Bar you may ask? Well, it’s a bar that makes their cocktails in front of their guests. Before the Bristol Bar was open, the drinks were made in a kitchen, and a server would come from behind a door to bring you your drink. Today the Bristol Bar’s décor consists of rich hues and has an exclusive ambiance in which to enjoy a drink or socialize.
The Rising Room
The Hotel Bristol was one of first the hotels in Vienna with an elevator. To make the elevator comfortable for hotel guests they built two seats in it – the seats are still there and of course still available for use.
A Picture of Nightly Social Gatherings
The lovely painting below painted by Austrian artist Hans Stalzer, a good friend of the Bristol’s original owner, Arthur Wolf provides a look at aristocrat life in the early twentieth century. Inspired by all of the famous personalities who stayed at the Hotel Bristol like Theodore Roosevelt, Baroness Thyssen Bornemisza, Adolf Loos, and Archduke Franz Salvator, to name just a few. Like no other painting of its time, Stalzer’s work provides insight into the nightly society gatherings at The Bristol in the early twentieth century. It also details the fashions of the time. The maître d’ and his waiters are among the thirty-six people included in the painting which was unusual. Having the staff painted in the picture reflects the atmosphere of the Hotel Bristol and Mr. Wolf’s appreciation of his team from the beginning.
The Bristol’s atmosphere is the same today: high quality, discreet service; personal attention; and welcoming Austrian hospitality. To achieve this type of service, a hotel’s staff must know they are valued.
Our Room, an Opera Suite
We stayed in the third floor Opera Suite that reflects the elegance of its namesake: the Viennese Opera. As we opened the door to our suite, we saw a long hallway with a distinctive living room at the end. Blue patterned silk walls wrapped around the living room and wide classic ceiling moldings sealed the view. The windows framed in ornate, richly hued floral patterned drapes provided a great view of the opera house and the Ringstrasse. There was a plush velveteen couch where we could sit and take in the authentic antiques, original works of art, fresh flowers, and beautiful crystal chandeliers. And not one but two carefully disguised minibars and a Nesspero coffee station in the room. There was also a period desk equipped with modern high-speed Internet Access.
Located in the middle of the room, in front of huge windows, was a four-person dining table offering the possibility of a private meal or a great workspace. Keith and I used this table with its great views to work during our stay.
A Suite that Feels like a City Apartment
Off the main hallway from the front door was a full guest bathroom complete with heated floors and across from that a walk-in coat closet. Having both of these areas makes entertaining guests easy and kept them out of our bedroom and bathroom.
From the front door, a second hallway to the left made its way to our bedroom. The room was huge with a king bed, a two-person sitting area, and another ornate chandelier. Also, there was a second writing desk in this room and a large round table. There was another entrance leading to the living room. Best of all there was tons of closet space!
Awaiting us in the huge, black and cream marbled bathroom was plush bathrobes and slippers. There were double sinks, a soaking tub, and a huge shower.
Keith and I enjoyed our stay in our opera room suite at the Hotel Bristol. We felt that we experienced high-society life from the turn of the last century with all of the creature comforts of today.
Prefer a Modern Room?
For those of you that like a more contemporary look, the Hotel Bristol offers several contemporary, sophistically decorated, rooms with high-end furnishings. These rooms have a separate living room and bedrooms, a dining area and walk-in closets. And, they receive the same high-quality service you want when traveling like turn down service or a daily newspaper delivered to your door.
Dining, the Bristol Lounge
The atmosphere in the Bristol Lounge is warm and inviting yet very grand. There are eight original, restored crystal chandeliers and a grand piano in the dining room. An open fireplace along one wall creates a romantic and cozy atmosphere. In addition to regular dining tables and chairs, there are couches, and sofa chairs set close to the fireplace for a relaxing dining experience.
The breakfast buffet at the Bristol lounge was bountiful. They have a show kitchen where you can get almost anything you would like made to order.
The Bristol combines grandeur and luxury with casualness to create something very modern for their dining guests. They serve traditional Austrian recipes, international classics, and innovative fare. Even if you do not stay at the Hotel Bristol, we recommend having a meal there. The Bristol Lounge offers a unique all-day dining experience in the heart of Vienna.
If you are seeking luxury, enrichment, and or unique experience, you will find it all at the Hotel Bristol. The authentic Viennese charm of this hotel originates from the antiques on display, the paintings in the hallways to the elevator. But most importantly, the wonderful, well-trained staff makes you feel like you are staying in somebody’s private Vienna home at the turn of the century.
Check out this video tour of the Hotel Bristol