Le Méridien, Vienna, Austria Review
If you want to feel more like a 21st century Kaiser, Le Méridien may be what you are looking for. One of the first of the chain’s Art + Tech designs, the hotel features artwork that challenges you from the moment you enter, including a rug, with footprints from the hotel’s very first guests, hanging on the wall.
Don’t let the Art + Tech concept put you off. The rooms are comfortable and inviting. The bed was so comfortable it made me understand why some people purchase hotel beds for their homes. The hotel stocks the minibar with Austrian beer, apple juice, and mineral water – all complimentary during your stay. Fresh fruit fills a bowl on the coffee table.
All rooms feature light woods and stainless steel, back-lit photographs, wall-mounted 42” flat-screen television, comfortable chairs and enormous overly designed bathrooms with three-headed shower bars and separate baths, not to mention heated floors. My suite consisted of a small bedroom and a large living room with a second W.C.
WHERE IS IT?
Located on the Opernring and across from the State Opera, part of the Ringstraße that surrounds the first district, which is the oldest part of the city, one can walk to the opera, to shopping, to palaces including the Hofburg and its elaborate gardens, and to the MuseumsQuartier, the city’s new museum quarter, one of the ten largest cultural complexes in the world. The MuseumsQuartier includes the Leopold Museum (housing one of the world’s most important collections of works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Richard Gerstl) and the MUMOK (Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, or Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna), the largest Austrian museum for modern and contemporary art, as well as more contemporary exhibition spaces such as the KUNSTHALLE wien. It is home to festivals such as the Wiener Festwochen, an annual summer event, as well as to the TanzQuartier, an international center for dance. Kombi (combination) tickets are available to visit multiple MQ institutions at a reduced rate.
ROAD WARRIOR SUPPORT
The minibar isn’t the only thing that’s free. Wired Internet service is complimentary during your stay and it is fast and reliable. The desk and chair were comfortable but the cable for the high-speed Internet was, in my room, nowhere near the desk. (When I asked, I was told that most rooms do in fact have the connections immediately adjacent to the desk.) Lighting was excellent. The living room was a very relaxed environment for one of my meetings.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Diners in the Shambala Restaurant, adjacent to the Shambala bar, will know the time of day based on the lighting of the room. During the day, soft light pours through the restaurant’s glass roof. In the evening, the lighting changes to a decidedly trendier look with a pink glow. Blue-strip lighting and holograms tell you that you are in the Shambala Bar, whose white leather booths are an ideal place to take in the hotel’s signature Cosmopolitan.
Did I mention the food? It’s quasi French fusion cuisine with a menu created by Parisian chef Michel Rostang, and it is excellent The chef even coined a name for the cuisine, “Mondiale” and he might even be onto something there.
Breakfast (with different lighting and colors) is served in the restaurant and features a comprehensive buffet that includes eggs, waffles, cold cuts and cheeses, breads, fresh fruits and juices, cereals and müsli. The staff will prepare omelettes and bring them to your table, although this system proved somewhat unreliable as my omelette never appeared my first day there.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The eight meeting rooms are comfortable and vary in size, for meetings from a dozen attendees to over 300. Six are naturally lighted; all are very modern and equipped with all necessary technologies including WLAN and portable plasma screens. The hotel also provides free espresso machines, mini bars, and fresh apples in the meeting rooms.
The health club is well equipped with the latest cardiovascular equipment, an indoor pool, steam room, and a sauna with lighting that changes color.
If you want a hotel that provides old fashioned service with a 21st century feel, this is it. The hotel bills itself as the Ringhotel for the 21st century with good reason. I’ve stayed there several times and it always feels right.
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.