During these strange times travel has become somewhat of a far away thought, not knowing when is safe or where might be the least risk to get to. Between August and September we found a small window of opportunity to travel albeit ensuring that we adopted the best safety measures as possible. We decided to head to Vienna before moving onto Lake Garda where we yearned to be within close proximity to the seaside and feel some sort of normality.
We were fortunate enough to stay at the wonderful Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna and were fully satisfied with the experience from almost every angle. The only aspect we felt was somewhat lacking was the facilities – we wished there was a pool for example. There is the hydropool located on the mezzanine level but it was too cold to take a dip in as the water was only just refreshed when we arrived. Otherwise this five-star establishment located not far from the city centre has everything you could ask for: spacious well-lit, temperature controlled and uber comfortable rooms, plush bedding and sheets, luxury toiletries courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo and by far the best breakfast buffet we’ve had in a while replete with quality breakfast staples, an omelette and pancake station made fresh, an array of fresh juices and organic teas as well as exquisite cold cuts and cheeses. Of course there’s coffee; Vienna is known for their Viennese Coffee.
The highlight of our stay, believe it or not, was the measures the hotel took to comply with healthy and safety measures among each guest. For example, upon check-in the concierge/reception desks had built-in screens, which of course many establishments have installed to respect social distancing efforts. Although trying to keep things as contactless as possible, we still had to sign forms. Kempinski prepared a leather tray of several pens, each sanitised for individual use. It’s the small things that count and it’s within these small actions that really showed us how far Kempinski have gone to reassure its guests and give them some sense of ease.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of our experience at Kempinski (and we’re sure many other hotels are experiencing the same situation) was how quiet it all was. We were given vouchers each for a beverage and cake of our choice at the expansive lobby lounge (perfect for afternoon tea by the way) which we thought was a thoughtful gesture. Between us and other guests, there were probably just 11 to 15 of us, sitting quietly and enjoying each other’s company. We felt really privileged to be able to take in the hotel during this quiet period, enjoying our cheesecake, which we highly recommend, as well as the famous Sacher-Torte and the hotel’s famous (secret recipe) Apple Strudel. Service was exceptional.
After wandering around this grand and modern Palais, we headed back to our junior suite to relax and make use of our spacious room. You’ll find that the room comes with an in-room tablet entertainment system which contains all the information you need as well as access to room-service, spa menus to book treatments and daily newspapers. It’s easy to use even for those who might struggle with technology but think of it as the hotel’s effort to save on paper. Other things include a large wooden cabinet containing a complimentary Nespresso machine, a small minibar and the usual cups, glasses, cutleries and tea. We loved the walk-in closet area and the bathroom which was also remote controlled – to shower, the on/off and temperature control buttons were located in the shower wall and to bathe, the same was located on the edge of the bathtub.
We ordered room service twice, once for breakfast which took an hour or so to arrive due to some network issues in the building, and again for dinner. Here’s what to pay attention to: when our breakfast didn’t arrive we made a call to double-check they hadn’t forgotten. Room service informed us of network issues and that our order would be right up. When our continental breakfast arrived, we were greeted by a lovely staff member who deeply apologized for the delay and mentioned that because of this trouble caused, our breakfast was on the house. Totally unexpected, this is what you call customer service – paying attention to the guests experience. Otherwise, the in-room dining menu isn’t extensive but what we ended up ordering – tomato cream soup, cesar salad and grilled fish with asparagus – was prepared exceptionally well, tastebuds were tantalized.
We managed a well-rested night and woke up the next morning for breakfast at the hotel’s Die Kueche restaurant. Although a buffet set-up, social distancing measures were in place. Breakfast was another highlight of our stay – the quality of ingredients, the options and live cooking stations as well as Viennese classics and homemade pastries made us feel comforted and energized for the day ahead. Highly recommended.
Should you be heading to Vienna or considering a visit, Palais Hansen Kempinski is one to consider. If you rely on comfort, five-star service and attention to detail, being close to the center and enjoy the luxury appeal plus great food, the grand Palais is definitely worth thinking about.