Vienna is a stately city rich with majestic architecture, an erudite culture, and a regal sense of style. In the center of the old city, replete with cobblestone walkways, horse drawn carriages, and glistening statues of historical luminaries, a new Park Hyatt hotel has opened on the site of a former monarchical bank. My wife and I celebrated my birthday in Vienna last weekend and stayed for two nights at Park Hyatt’s newest property.
A historic property located on Am Hof 2 in the heart of the First District of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the hotel’s location cannot be beat. Within a few paces is the Goldenes Quartier shopping district, St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Hofburg Palace, Spanish Riding School, and many museums.
We began the day in Frankfurt with an early flight on Austrian Airlines to Vienna. I sent a note to the main hotel e-mail, email@example.com, just before takeoff requesting an early check-in and had a response waiting when I landed in Vienna – the room was ready.
From Vienna Airport you have two public transportation options for getting into the city – the City Airport Train (CAT) which travels non-stop to the heart of Vienna or a suburban train (S-Bahn) which calls at several stations on the way into town, taking about 15 minutes longer than the direct service. The CAT is 14EUR one-way while the S-Bahn is 4.40EUR. We took the S-Bahn into town, then connected on the underground train (U-Bahn) to Herrengasse Station, which is just a short walk from the hotel.
A smiling porter greeted us outside the door and took our luggage. Inside, a friendly young man checked us in, speaking first in English when he noticed my American passport but then switching to German upon the request of my wife that I practice my Deutsch! He escorted us upstairs and demonstrated the hi-tech features of our room. Like many Park Hyatt properties, lighting and draperies are electronically controlled by a central push-button unit.
I loved the room – a spacious standard room with tremendous natural light, a great view, and functionality. The room featured copious electrical outlets – an essential amenity when taking my business on the road, as I did here even on my birthday weekend. The layout of the couch in front of the bed in front of the desk nicely utilized the space in the room and the separate entry hall insulated the room from outside noise.
Two doors decorated in geometric art-deco style, closed off the bathroom and entry hall from the bedroom. The bathroom was very large (and well-placed mirrors made it appear even larger) and featured a sizeable bathtub, walk-in rain shower, two sinks, and a separate water closet.
A minibar featured an Illy coffee machine with several packets of complimentary espresso and snack and drink for purchase. The refrigerator did make a rather loud humming sound that could be heard even when the bedroom door was closed. I am a heavy sleeper, but my wife woke me up one night to “turn the climate off” yet it was not the air conditioning, it was the refrigerator! It was not terrible, just noticeable.
It was warm outside and we had a problem getting the air conditioning to activate. Turns out one of the windows was open just ajar – just make sure all your windows are tightly shut and your room key is in the slot by the door or else your air conditioning will not function. Once on, the room cooled down rapidly. Vienna boasts exceptional weather so most of the year there is no need for a/c anyway.
view from our room
The hotel offers three dining options in addition to 24-hour room service; The Bank, Pearl, and The Lobby Lounge. Pearl bar features an outdoor terrace in addition to a contemporary indoor seating area and specializes in cocktails. A tapas menu is available with food as substantial as Wiener Schnitzel also available.
The Lobby Lounge offers drinks and light meals and sits next to the Living Room, a cigar and whiskey lounge that is one of the hotel’s best features. Admittedly, I see little value in setting fire to and then inhaling a plant that is linked to lung cancer but many of my friends and my brother hold a different opinion, so I find myself in cigar bars quite often. If you are a conneousier of cigars or just enjoy an opulent room to enjoy a drink in with friends, this bar is not to be missed. With plush couches and rich wooden paneling on the walls, I felt like I was part of the gentry mulling over world affairs in the cigar and brandy room onboard the Titanic.
Finally, The Bank is the hotel’s most opulent restaurant and central to the character of the property. Here, on the site of the former cashier’s hall, we had breakfast each morning. Breakfast was 33EUR and the buffet was expansive with all that you would expect in a comprehensive breakfast—fresh squeezed juices, cereals, fruits, breads, cold-cuts, cheeses, breakfast meats, and eggs. Coffee (it was tremendous) as well as pancakes, waffles, French Toast, and eggs are included in the buffet and can be ordered from your server.
We spent hours in here each morning enjoying a leisurely breakfast (breakfast ends at 10:30a during the week and 11:00a on weekends) and found the service to be warm, personal, and punctual. I thought everything was great – my wife had a problem with her eggs on the first morning (soft boiled eggs came out hard-boiled, then an omelet ordered with no cheese was delivered with cheese) but the issues were quickly remedied and did not reoccur the next morning. The juices were remarkably tasty (apple, orange, and even grapefruit were exceptional) and my favorite part of the breakfast was the cheese-covered cooked tomatoes.
Lunch and dinner are also offered each night in The Bank and you will find no menu posted online because the menu, sourced with local ingredients, changes often. Prices were moderate and I was prepared to dine at the restaurant for my birthday, but when mentioning that I was especially looking for fish, the concierge directed me to a restaurant called Kornat about 15 minutes away by foot, which specializes in fish and seafood.
So I missed trying out The Bank for an evening meal, but I did appreciate the restaurant recommendation for the food was amazing and we enjoyed a prime outdoor table thanks to a call ahead from the concierge.
I do have one gripe and only one true gripe about the property: the in-room wireless internet speed was unreliable. The Park Hyatt Vienna offers complimentary wired and wi-fi internet, which is a nice feature, but I found myself on multiple occasions banging my hand on the desk with disgust as poor connectivity led to unacceptably long page load times and the inability to make internet-based telephone calls. Other times, though, the interent worked perfectly well with pages loading fast and no issue with Skype calls or viewing YouTube videos. Admittedly, I did not not bring my ethernet cable converter for my MacBook Air so I was unable to test the wired internet speed.
A large fitness studio with state-of-the-art, brand new equipment was much appreciated. Several bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals filled one side of the room while strength training equipment and free weights filled out the other. The room itself, with brass candelabras and wooden floors was an elegant place to work out and apples, bottled water, refrigerated towels, newspapers, and magazines were available.
The gym overlooks the swimming pool below, which sits on the site of the former bank vault. With an ornate frieze relief and elongated white leather couches, it offers a refreshing antidote to the hot afternoon sun (or cold). Adjacent to the pool is a lounge with chairs to relax and also steam room and sauna facilities. My one regret is that we did not spend an extra day in Vienna just to lounge around the spa. Certainly, seeing Vienna is the priority if your time is limited, but this is a great complimentary benefit of the hotel that seems to go unutilized, as I saw many hotel guests and no one using the pool or spa lounge. Full spa services are available here in the Arany Spa and you can even see the original 3-ton bank vault door.
This hotel is a category six property, meaning it is 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night or 12,500 points plus a $150 co-pay (my preferred method of payment to help stretch out my points). The daily rate during the summer is about 375EUR or $500. Gold Passport availblity is good.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the city of Vienna and both my wife (who is not usually a city person) and I wish to return soon. When we do, we will definitely choose the Park Hyatt again, allowing an extra day for the spa and enjoying at a more leisurely pace one of Europe’s greatest capital cities.