1010 Travel Guide
I’m a sucker for an amazing hotel breakfast, and the buffet at the Hotel Sacher was one of the highlights of my trip to Vienna last year. When I returned this year, even though I wasn’t staying in the Sacher, I made a beeline for the breakfast buffet. The cost? €37, or $41.
Yes, that’s a lot of money for breakfast, but it’s worth every penny. For starters, I was held up a few minutes from getting to my breakfast, because the president of Lithuania was arriving at the hotel #starquality. Then I walked through the tiny jewel box of a residents’ lounge to reach these two ladies who beckon you in, signaling that breakfast is night:
We thought it looked fabulous from the renderings and pre-opening video, and now the crowd-sourced verdict on the Park Hyatt Vienna is in….
And it is, apparently, indeed fabulous.
A friend who visited (not stayed) last week tells us that the rooms are lovely and the public areas are stunning. A review in Forbes mentions real gold tiles in the swimming pool and the winning fact that all standard rooms have sitting areas, effectively turning them into junior suites. The Telegraph calls the service “polished”, the bathrooms “lavish” and the beds “heavenly”. Vivienne Westwood has already had a fashion show there (pics on the hotel’s Facebook); she brought along Poppy Delevingne (sister of Cara), who made local headlines by showing off the window seats to full effect (above).
Over on TripAdvisor, the 21 reviews all mark it as “excellent”, and though we’re not convinced by all of them (Vienna is known for having “dull” hotels? Really?), the photos are pretty phenomenal – remember that giant wall of onyx in the bar? The spa treatment rooms get that too.
The hotel is, as the name suggests, where the Sacher Torte cake was invented, and as such there’s a subtle-yet-classy chocolate theme in the hotel, from the inroom toiletries to the spa and its signature Time to Chocolate treatments, using the Sacher’s own line of chocolate beauty products, made from the same cocoa beans as the chocolate icing for their Sacher Torte. And yes, they smell divine.
There are four treatments to choose from, starting from A Symphony in Chocolate, which lays on a steam bath, cacao bean peeling massage, chocolate body mask and a final chocolate massage over a 110-minute period. The other three - A Dream of Chocolate, A Taste of Chocolate, and A Sensation of Chocolate - are 60-minute combinations of two of the Symphony’s elements: so scrub and body mask, scrub and a chocolate rub down, and body mask, scrub and chocolate body care.
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Park Hyatt’s first incursion into Austria, the hotel opened June 2, just a day late (unless you count the original plan to open in 2013). It’s in a nice, slightly different position from most of the other lux hotels: on the slightly less touristy northwestern side of the Innere Stadt.
There are 143 rooms, and a restaurant, bar, and cigar and whisky lounge (possibly copying the nearby Kempinski’s). The spa boasts a pool in the old bank vault, and uses Sodashi products for its treatments.
That would be the rooftop of the Ritz-Carlton Vienna, more specifically Atmosphere Rooftop Bar & Lounge, where it was frightfully cold when we took advantage of being in the Austrian capital to peruse the most recent European addition to the group.
We were outside just long enough to see how during the summer it must be a lovely spot, with views over the city’s rooftops, and as the plaques on the edge indicate, various Ritz-Carlton hotels far off in the distance. Downstairs, we toured the public spaces inside the combined four historic palaces and a few of the 202 rooms & suites – read on for more.
Since New Zealand is really, really, really far away, one of the best ways to beat jet-lag is to head to the spa to work out your sore and fatigued muscles. Not surprisingly, this Sofitel's SoSpa has developed a massage specifically for weary travelers.
Before we get into the serenity of the treatment, we should let you know that the Sofitel's spas are re-branding to SoSpa as an extension of the luxurious and trendy brand, Sofitel So. (Coincidentally, Auckland will get its own Sofitel So hotel next year.) But in the meantime, the Sofitel Viaduct Harbour is still Auckland's first SoSpa and better yet, it still has the new-spa smell since it opened its doors just a few months back.
Tucked away in a back corner of the hotel and utilizing two floors, the spa is a the center of all things rejuvenation with cool blue colors, dark woods and Kiwi design elements. Upon check-in guests are greeted and allowed to change in separate change-rooms then treated to some fruit-infused mineral water. After a few sips, we also got to choose the scented essential oil that we would tickle our olfactory glands during the massage.
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Harbor-side rooms and plush rooms at Sofitel Viaduct Harbour; a HotelChatter Review
Spending a few days in Auckland sounds like a dream, but once you start to look at hotel options, you might get a little discouraged since the city doesn't have much selection. With limited international hotel brands that we can trust, we settled on Sofitel Viaduct Harbour but didn't expect some harbor living during our visit.
After a winding trip through the sleepy streets of the city's entertainment district, we finally make it to a mid-rise building situated directly on the inner-harbour surrounded by yachts and sailboat masts. With a sleek, tiled lobby that featured a handful of reflection pools, we struggled to be anything but awed by the framed view of the private mooring docks beyond the lobby. Then after a speedy check-in process, we were off to our room.
We've already dreamed about life in the palace once this month, so why not dream again? This time, we have our eyes set on RItz-Carlton Vienna, which opens today on Schubertring Boulevard inside "an elegant building composed of four historic palaces dating back to the 19th century."
That's four more palaces than most hotels tend to offer!
Aside from the building's history, a few other components about the hotel have also got us excited: like the rooftop bar (Atmosphere), the six-room Guerlain Spa, a seventh-floor Club Lounge overlooking Vienna from below the eaves of the palace, and an 18-meter indoor pool that plays underwater music.
Each year, Vienna hosts one of the largest and most extravagant HIV/AIDS fundraisers in the world: the Life Ball. And for those in the know, the come-one, come-all free Fashion Show held at City Hall Square is considered to be the pinnacle of the whole she-bang. Nowhere else will you see the who’s who of haute couture mixing with such an enthusiastic crowd of costume-wearers. (Can’t quite wedge these six-foot angel wings out of this revolving door...)
However if, like us, your tootsies are just too tired to make that final trek to the ball at the end of a jam-packed day, spend the evening at Le Moët Bar in Vienna’s Le Méridien Hotel. Sink into a slinky chair, order a glass of champagne (what else?) and prepare for the show.
Oh what a difference a year makes!
Remember when Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts suddenly dumped its plans to open a new hotel in Vienna, Austria? Amidst reports of opening delays, and even worse, shoddy construction quality, the property was removed from the group's expansion plans in Europe in February of 2011.
By summertime the hotel was looking forlorn and desperately in search of a new brand to put its name on the door. We even went so far to say we could probably rule out the likes of Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton to come and snap it up.
How wrong we were!
All this week, HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen takes us on a tour of New Zealand’s hotel scene.
So far in our mini hotel tour of Auckland we’ve taken you to the Langham, where we stayed, and over to the Hilton, where we popped in for an impromptu tour one day. Now we’re going to take you to the newest of the city’s upscale chain hotels, the Westin Auckland Lighter Quay.
We had to settle for another quick guerrilla tour of this harborfront property because we weren’t actually staying there, and couldn’t take any photos inside. But we did manage to get a good look around and thought it was worth mentioning here anyway. And if you really need the visual aids, you can check out our Flickr shots of the hotel here.
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If you’re anything like us, the first thing you want to do after a transatlantic flight is to wash all the grit and grime of airports and planes off your fatigued body. That’s why, for the first installment in our Austria-Germany Field Trip guide, we’ve decided to tell you all about the fabulous showers at Le Meridien Vienna, the first stop on our trip.