Whenever you arrive in a major city and are looking for a luxury hotel with a sterling reputation for service, it is always worth checking if there is a Kempinski in town. Fortunately for visitors to Austria’s capital, there is just such an impressive property: Palais Hansen Kempinski, which lives up to its name in a majestic Hermitage-listed building that dates back to 1873.
The current hotel, however, opened barely 10 years ago – the first hostelry to occupy the distinctively rose-colored palatial edifice strategically located on Ringstrasse (Ring Boulevard), convenient for both car access and to a hub of city tramways, as well as within easy walking distance to the city center. The sparkling newness is evident still, as one enters the stunning lobby with its atrium, glass elevator, and magnificent upside-dow chandelier.
The transparent elevator whisks guests to their choice of 98 rooms and 54 suites, in no fewer than three categories of rooms and five categories of suites – not to mention a huge penthouse apartment. In addition, three rooms are wheelchair-accessible.
It goes without saying that the furnishings and amenities are everything you might expect from a five-star hotel with a 125-year pedigree: super comfortable beds with duvets, multi-channel and multi-lingual flat screen TV, Nespresso coffee machine and tea kettle, laptop-sized room safe, working desk with plenty of charging outlets and more. Arguably, though, the nicest perk in a Kempinski room is the generously stocked minibar, whose [non-alcoholic] contents are totally free of charge.
The bathrooms here are equipped no less comprehensively than the guest quarters. Every bathroom has separate tubs and shower stalls — each with futuristic features I have seen in no other hotel: the rain drop shower head built right into the ceiling of shower stall, while the controls of the water in the bathtub are push-button.
To add to the pampering, there is a slew of premium Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries, soft absorbent towels, plush bathrobes and posh reusable slippers that are in a league above the norm for disposable hotel footwear. Not to mention a towel warmer in the bathroom that actually works!
Another fine place to immerse yourself in water is in the hotel’s spa hydropool, which is large and relaxing, albeit instead of a non-existent swimming pool. On the other hand, there is a 24-hour fitness room equipped with cutting-edge Technogym exercise stations, as well as a steam room and bio-sauna for both mixed gender and ladies-only use.
The spa also comprises six treatment rooms, for when you have made your choice from the extensive spa menu. There is no facility for hair and beauty care, but the hotel can recommend top-notch salons nearby.
Other ways to relax at the Palais Hansen Kempinski include lounging in the luxurious cigar lounge – Vienna’s largest – and sipping a cocktail mixed at one of the hotel’s two bars. Or indulge in the popular afternoon high tea, complete with traditional and famous Viennese pastries, served in the elegant lobby lounge (once a former stable courtyard).
Which leads us to the myriad dining options on the premises, starting with the daily breakfast buffet in the Wintergarten, which is not only lavish – including champagne – but complimentary, so everyone gets a chance to sample the excellent warm and cold dishes that are so bountifully displayed. There is also a wide variety of options for the health-conscious eater – even an entire gluten-free corner, a thoughtful touch I have never seen in such abundance in any other hotel buffet.
Of course, the hotel can satisfy your appetite in the afternoon and evening hours as well, whether at Daihachi Sushi during the week, or back in the Wintergarten, which becomes the venue for Sunday brunch.
Finally, the pièce de résistance: Palais Hansen Kempinski is home to a restaurant that boasts a Michelin star: Edvard, helmed by acclaimed chef Thomas Pedevilla, who uses the freshest seasonal ingredients to create gastronomic delights at the highest levels of French cuisine.
Published rates: The price per night for a guest unit in one of the three room categories ranges from $425 to $885, while suites start at $565 and can escalate to $1,955. You can try checking rates on Booking.com or Expedia to see if you can find a better price.
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the hotel for purposes of review. Additional photos courtesy of Palais Hansen Kempinski. Exterior (daytime) photo credit: E. Fransdonk