Originally built as a hotel for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873, Palais Hansen Kempinski is something special from the get go. Located in the very heart of one of my favorite cities, beautiful capital of Austria, it captures the city’s old time essence and combines it with a contemporary touch. Vienna is full of historical sights, but to be able to stay in one, so cleverly, so elegantly preserved is a treat all on its own.
A dream coming true
I love a good story and this hotel has a great one, spinning centuries back, when Vienna was a different place. It was designed by one of the most acclaimed architectures Theophil Edvard von Hansen, who also made designs for the Parliament Building, Vienna Stock Exchange, etc, it was built between 1869 and 1873 and it was meant to be a grand hotel for a great event. But as it often happens with plans, they go astray, and this amazing building never opened as a hotel. It was rather used for very mundane things, serving as police headquarters till 1945 and housing different municipal departments. Still, there was always a wish to use the building for its original purpose. Years later, in 2010, the painstaking journey of restoring the building back to a hotel started. It finally opened as the Palais Hansen Kempinski in March 2013. Not only a dream come true for the building but also for the Kempinski Group that had found a perfect setting for a hotel in Vienna.
A new era
With this hotel I have found an ideal location for visiting Austria’s capital. All the major sites, like the St Stephan’s Cathedral or the Town Hall are withing walking distance. And so much more in between. When it comes to Vienna, for me, it was love at first sight. The city has something to offer for everyone, but what impresses me most is ow the history blends with the modern times. And the same could be said about the hotel. It works hand in hand with its past, but brings it a new era. The lobby almost takes you back in time, to get a taste of what it might have been like, but the glass elevators tell you a different story, of what can be achieved. Of course the lobby was even better looking on our visit than it probably is, because of all the tastefully made and placed Christmas decorations.
The mentioned elevator takes you up to your floor, where the exquisite hallways lead to elegant rooms. Ours was a combination of soft brown colors and fine furnishings.
The massive bed really calls for a quick nap, but what caught my attention was the sweets that awaited us as well as the great Nespresso machine, that was almost immediately put to very good use. Only then did I hit the bed and had time to look over the spacious, tastefully decorated room.
At the same time, hubby was more impressed with the gadgets – like the very modern iPad, that contains various information to answer almost your every possible question, from room service to how to regulate the temperature, to different suggestions for visiting Vienna. The technology doesn’t end there. Oh, no, you get the buttons by the bed to turn on/off the lights, to have only the night light on… But my personal favorite was buttons for turning on the shower and bathtub in the amazing bathroom. I usually need a few moments to figure out how to run a shower, while here it’s so easy and convenient. You have to love it. And while the room preserves the old time’s feel, the architecture and design stays true to the original, it has all this little perks that almost inconspicuously make it all modern.
While hubbs rested after a busy day, I decided to go enjoy the spa. Loved the quiet place, where you get to forget your daily worries and truly unwind. You can almost forget you are at the hotel, because the visit takes you to a new place, which can be understood either way. It’ lets you relax deep inside and with the small details such as the Ottoman-style lamps and mosaics makes you feel as if you are somewhere else. Hydropool, saunas, gym and treatment rooms, this like a paradise come true.
Best way to start the day
And that’s not the only place I’d describe as almost Heaven. For me the best part of staying at a hotel is enjoying the breakfast. But here, they take it to whole new level. A choice of eggs, coffee and my favorite, a selection of Asian breakfast food, is just the start. You are guaranteed to find your perfect food to start the day just right. I couldn’t even name all the food, but describing the whole experience as heavenly could probably do the trick. The best part is you don’t need to rush it, as on weekends you get to enjoy your breakfast till 2 pm, really taking your time to enjoy the surroundings as well as the delicious meals and a glass of champagne on top. With two restaurants, one, Edvard awarded 1 Michelin star, you can guess that these people know their food. And being a child friendly hotel, among other things, they have a special buffet just for the little ones.
So, as you can see it is really hard to write about this hotel in anything but superlatives and it’s really hard to leave and say goodbye to the friendly staff, comfortable rooms, delicious food and all the little perks in between. But we had to, as it was time to head on home, with a short stop at the amazing Town Hall Christmas market. It was the perfect way to part from Vienna and start making plans for a new visit.