48 Hours at The Ritz-Carlton Vienna
My first experience at this Ritz Carlton property wasn’t something to write about. However, I made the efforts to find the conversation with the management to discuss the issues occurred during my first stay in April. Since I was eager to see how they improved and to have a reason to be proud of the first Ritz Carlton property in Vienna, I gave them a second chance. To be honest, normally I never give second chances (Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan, Chedi Andermatt or Borgo Egnazia can tell) however since me and my colleague Lukas are massively huge Ritz Carlton fans I couldn’t believe that the only property in my home country doesn’t meet the brand's standards. There was one reason and then was our Asia trip where I still needed a cool kick-off in Vienna. Reasons enough to spend a lavish staycation at the Ritz Carlton Vienna. Having arrived by Uber from the main station, the staff immediately knew our names without having us telling them and showed us the way to the Club Lounge on the 7th floor. I was already impressed and felt like a really welcome guest.
Once we arrived in the Club Lounge, Jonathan was checking us in and offered us a first welcoming glass of champagne with a strawberry topping. Since they just had Apple Strudel time, we accepted Victoria’s invitation to join for two pieces of the daily celebration. Actually, it is a perfect match to represent the country’s culture a bit. Soon afterward we headed down to our Junior Suite on the fifth floor. Of course, we were offered accompaniment however refused as we were all set. Having seen an entry-level double room, the Junior Suite was on another level to say at least: high ceilings, beautiful layout and views of the Ring Boulevard as well as the St Stephan’s Cathedral. While normally I prefer a suite’s living room to be separated by the bedroom completely, this one was perfect and I wouldn’t have wished it to be different due to the high ceilings and massive flat-screen televisions. Right next to the entrance was a small walk-in wardrobe plus the minibar with a few products to buy and a Nespresso coffee machine. The living room consisted of a sofa and armchair plus - as usual at a Ritz Carlton - we were welcomed by a stunning welcome amenity looking like the Ferris wheel filled with pralines along bottled Voss sparkling water. Soon after we settled in the room, a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne has arrived and to be honest we both were super surprised by how perfect things went this time.
After organizing ourselves in the room, we were getting ready for the Schloss Schönbrunn concert. Although I have spent the last six months in Vienna, time was short and I actually never managed to get close to the real musical side of the city. I planned to attend an opera in the state opera, however, I never managed to schedule it so was it with the classical music concert at the Schönbrunn castle. This time, however, Lukas joined me and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to experience Vienna at its fullest. After the performance, we drove back to the city center and stopped by our favorite Viennese hot dog stand called Bitzinger just next to the Albertina Gallery. What’s better than a great bottle of Austrian Riesling, sitting at my favorite spot in the city while overlooking the lit State Opera with a traditional Viennese dish? Next evening it was a little more sophisticated I promise. I am not sure if I ever had such a great bed in an Austrian hotel. Perhaps the last amazing Austrian hotel bed was at the Hotel Aurelio in Lech which was top in terms of sleep quality.
Breakfast is served in the Club Lounge (when staying at a Club floor room or suite) otherwise it is served in the steakhouse downstairs where I didn’t make the good experience last time. However, the breakfast at the club lounge was excellent. There was a small selection of breakfast dishes, a bread selection along with a fruit buffet and all breakfast dishes ready to order. We went for Eggs Benedict and they were simply delicious. Service was very nice by both, the morning as well as the evening shift – plus of course by the Club Lounge manager Dijana who made sure that this stay would be extra special. During the stay, I of course observed other guests who received the exact same treatment as we did, so I was impressed by the dedicating service which is a great plus for Austria.
Before we decided on our plan for the day, we went downstairs to see the biggest indoor pool in Vienna at the Spa by Espa. The layout of the spa and pool is very nice and there is huge changing rooms gender separated with a heating experience, sauna, and steam bath. This time we didn’t book any treatment as time was short and we were already on our way to discover Bratislava and the area of Neusidl. Actually, it is a great idea to escape the Austrian capital for the stunning countryside or the Slovakian capital – in case you have seen it all in Vienna. Go to Dürnstein, Langenlois or head South to Lake Neusidl to try some of the best wines in Central Europe or digest delicacies in one of the lovely countryside restaurants. More recommendations can be found in our blog posts about “Dining in Vienna”. Once we returned, we had a dinner appointment at Mochi restaurant before we paid a visit to the Club Lounge again for some post-dinner champagne.
That evening we also checked-out the rooftop bar Atmosphere where we enjoyed one of the best Gin Tonics I have had in Vienna. As a hotel lover, I was fascinated by the idea to display some Ritz Carlton properties and distances on the railing of the terrace. When the informed us that they would close at midnight I was a bit surprised considering that there are no immediate neighbors and it’s a bar where you normally head after dinner. Well, I guess since people eat early in Vienna it has never been an issue. Luckily the rooftop bar opens until 1 am nearer to the weekend. Note our stay was Monday to Wednesday. As a guest of the Club Lounge, I asked the Club Lounge manager if there is something they could do to arrange a late check-out so we could enjoy the pool for a bit before our flight to Hongkong leaves. Immediately she made sure to arrange my request and on the last day, the housekeeping team approached us to ask if we would like the suite to be set up again at noon so we could have a nap before the flight. Even though we refused kindly, I found this to be very attentive and superb reminding me of my all-time favorite Corinthia London Hotel.
To sum it up, the Ritz-Carlton Vienna actually met the highest expectations I have had, plus when being honest the ladies and gentlemen from the club lounge even exceeded my expectations. I have actually never expected this property to be able to change so drastically within months, though a lot of the uber-luxurious experience this time was because of the fact that we were staying on the Club level. One thing to know is that staying at a Club Level Room at a Ritz Carlton property is the upper end of luxury hospitality, not just the quality of the food and drinks is on par, but what really makes the difference are the ladies and gentlemen of the Club Lounge. They always go the extra mile for you and that’s why you should definitely give it a try.