Hotel Imperial, Vienna, Austria Review

By Jonathan Spira on 1 May 2007
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The majestic Hotel Imperial, built originally as the residence of the Prince of Württemberg in 1863 and transformed into a hotel in 1873 in time for the World’s Fair, is for business travelers accustomed to staying at the best addresses.  It is renowned for impeccable service and discretion.

Reception at the Hotel Imperial

Reception at the Hotel Imperial

Guests are treated like regulars, even on the first visit.  The hotel is also the official residence for visiting heads of state. Charlie Chaplin, who visited in 1931, reportedly said “Stay at the Imperial and feel like an Emperor.”


The Imperial is on the Kärtner Ring, a section of the magnificent Ringstraße, which encircle the city center, having replaced the walls of the old city.  It is within walking distance of the State Opera House, the Stadtpark (city park, replete with statuary of Vienna’s musical gods), St. Stephan’s cathedral, the Hofburg Palace, the Spanish Riding School, the Hofburg Convention Center, and many embassies and corporate offices.

The Imperial is centrally located on the Ringstraße

The Imperial is centrally located on the Ringstraße

It is also across from the Musikverein, home of the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) from which the annual New Year’s Day Concert is broadcast.


Sumptuous yet welcoming. Nothing else can describe the feeling I had when I was shown to my room, which was furnished with antiques, crystal chandeliers, and a marble bathroom larger than most hotel rooms.  It combined timeless elegance with the latest creature comforts.

Sleeping area in an Imperial suite

Sleeping area in an Imperial suite

My first floor room overlooked the Ring, although the windows did not allow any street noise to enter.  From the desk in my living room, I could sit and watch my fellow Viennese go by.  As a business traveler, I had to spend considerable time at the desk but the surroundings made work very pleasant.

The lobby is dominated by the Royal Staircase, with magnificent chandeliers shimmering from high ceilings, which leads to the Royal Suites.  I skipped the lift and took every opportunity to walk up and down from my room (which, for the record, was not a Royal Suite) to the ground floor.

Some suites include butler service.  The butler will bring you a freshly-ironed newspaper and tea or coffee in bed.


Augmenting the “business center” corner near reception, with several computers for guests’ use, the hotel recently installed wireless Internet in the rooms, available at a fee of €36 for 24 hours or  € 9 per hour.


A hearty Viennese breakfast is served in the morning in the Café Imperial, open daily until 23 h.  From noon on, it is a typical Viennese café, with scrumptious fare.

The magnificent staircase watched over by a portrait of Kaiser Franz Josef

The magnificent Royal Staircase watched over by a portrait of Kaiser Franz Josef

One expects the Empress herself to walk into the Bar Maria Theresia at any moment while you are enjoying a glass of Sekt.

The Restaurant Imperial regales you with a blend of traditional Viennese cuisine and the finest cooking.  Ordering off the menu is not a problem; I ordered a Salzburger Nockerl (a vanilla dessert soufflé) when we sat down (necessary as it takes almost an hour to prepare).  When dessert was brought out, diners at every other table turned their heads and then started asking their waiters what it was and how to get it (a phenomenon I had warned my dining companion of in advance).


Seven separate meeting spaces that can accommodate between 12 to 120 people.  Since the rooms are all on one floor, up to 365 people can attend a dinner or dance utilizing all of the rooms.


The Imperial features a well-equipped gym and sauna.  And the concierge can achieve more miracles than are known to man.  (Tickets to a sold-out performance at the Theater an der Wien or Volksoper? No problem.  A ticket to see Rudolf Buchbinder at the Musikverein (also sold out).  Consider it done.)  Shopping is across the Ring on the Kärtnerstraße.  For hiking, the Vienna Woods beckon.  And to dance or listen to waltzes, the Kursalon, where Johann Strauß II conducted his own orchestra, is a five minute walk down the Ringstraße.


I hope to have many more meetings in Vienna so I can return to the Imperial oh, perhaps once or twice a year.

–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.

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