Built in 1873 for the Vienna World Expo, the Heritage-listed Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna – designed by architect Theophil Edvard Hansen – was leased by Kempinski in 2010 and opened in 2013 after extensive renovation, which included putting first-floor glass ceilings over its three inner courtyards to create light-filled spaces for its lobby lounge, grand ballroom and breakfast café.
WHERE IS IT?
On the inner city’s famous Ring Boulevard, a few hundred metres up from the Donaukanal waterway and Schottenring underground station (U-bahn lines U2 and U4). Just outside the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna are tram stops that allow easy access around the historic First District (Innere Stadt).
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Vienna’s city centre is one of the world’s great architectural treasure houses, so it’s fitting that the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna should be situated in a suitably historic five-storey building. The grand façade leads into an airy, refined lobby lounge, with indoor glass elevators leading to its 152 rooms (including 54 suites). Evocative archways lead into different areas of the property, events spaces on the left and F&B offerings on the right. The effect is a modern take on classical European grandeur.
I was in a Grand Deluxe room, which vary in size and shape (45-53 sqm) because of the building’s age and design. The entrance hallway was wood floored and faced the open wardrobe area. To the right was the bathroom, to the left the bedroom, which sported rich maple wood furnishings, muted floral carpeting and stylish photo prints on the walls. The large work desk was great, with plenty of stationery on offer, a comfortable chair and sunken power sockets – although my Mac’s plug did not fit so I had to use the wall socket to charge my laptop.
The articulated TV on the wall offered scores of channels from European and Middle Eastern countries and faced a sofa and coffee table, but could be twisted towards the desk or the very comfortable king-size bed. The coffee machine made delicious coffee and I would happily have spent down time relaxing here – if I’d had any (the trouble is you’re in Vienna, so you spend any spare time out exploring).
The bathroom’s combination of white and dark marble and beige tiling was classy, as were the own-brand bergamot products with aloe vera. I had trouble with the walk-in shower’s controls, which I could not seem to work out (though I’m prepared to accept this could have been my own jet-lag induced dopiness each evening). A more obvious problem was the light in the wardrobe area, which repeatedly went off as I was dressing/undressing and required me to wave my arm in the air to activate the sensor. A minor thing and easily fixed, but irritating after the first few waves.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
These are all on the ground floor. Die Küche (The Kitchen) is a country-style, easygoing restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with natural light from the glass ceiling, two green walls and a superb breakfast buffet offering. Fine dining is available in the Michelin-star Edvard – I was lucky enough to have a meal here and the carefully crafted Mediterranean dishes were almost all memorable. Completing the F&B options are the Lobby Lounge & Bar with its own in-house patisserie, and an atmospheric cigar lounge hidden away at the back behind the elevators.
There are six meeting rooms of varying size and style (some very stylish in all white) and the light-filled Theophil Ballroom can host up to 280 people. Die Küche also has a chef’s table and can be used in conjunction with events.
Kempinski The Spa is on the hotel’s mezzanine level, with six treatment rooms, a hydro pool, steam room and “bio-sauna” with mixed and ladies-only areas available. Also on this level is a modest gym with Technogym equipment.
Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna is an excellent hotel that gives its guests a good sense of classic Viennese style – cultured and refined in the time-honoured European tradition. The F&B options are outstanding, and the stylish event offerings are also a big draw.
Internet rates for a Grand Deluxe room (with breakfast) in mid-April start from €417 (US$441) including taxes and surcharges.
Schottenring 24, 1010 Vienna, Austria; tel +43 1236 1000 8010;