Sometimes rated as the best hotel in Vienna, this former princely palace with only about 100 rooms, has it all. Superb rooms reminiscent of what Vienna once was, a top-notch English-speaking concierge desk, a lovely buffet breakfast, and a charming sidewalk cafe/restaurant..all in a very central location.
The Eyewitness Travel book on Vienna, all 288 pages, shows what Vienna is..and isn't !! It's a faded city with a magnificent past thanks to the Hapsburgs who once ruled from Hungary to Spain..and exhibited their power in monumental Architecture (the Schonbrunn Palace and the Belevedere Palace, to name two "must-see" attractions.) And a number of government ministries and smaller princely dwellings. Plus wide streets, dotted with statues and attractive small parks (You should know that the Vienna Woods aren't in Vienna proper and comprise a state park 300 miles in area ! Likewise the "Blue Danube" only skirts Vienna , and it's grey and industrial til about 20 miles downstream, which you can reach by bus, then board a river cruiser to pass the hillside vineyards, picturesque small villages, and ultimately reach the eye-popping Benedictine monastery at Melk.)
Vienna today in its everyday life isn't so spectacular: the people in the street aren't snappily dressed in hats and double-breasted suits as in the movie, "The Third Man". Not much style at all. And not so many smoky, Art-Deco, wood-panelled coffee houses with fabled coffee and whipped cream. We found the restaurants, OK, but a bit expensive, and not so special. We had Wienerschnitzel our first night at a hotel-recommended restaurant.which was totally forgettable. Likewise, we ate the famous Sacher Torte ( red desert cake) right at the Hotel Sacher..expensive..and not much taste, alas. The one restautant that blew us away was the Steirereck in Stadtpark..expensive..but extraordinary. One last point: wherever you walk, including the central pedestrian street mall between the Opera House and the Cathedral..there's really very little to buy. You'd do better on Chicago's Miracle Mile ! Sad to say, but true. Also, English is spoken, but not much ! The biggest Viennese employer seems to be the U.N. with many agencies here shared with New York and Geneva.
All in all, a city with a big, still visible past and a much smaller present.. probably worth a 3 night stay...especially at the Hotel Imperial.
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