Review Hotel Bristol Vienna
As we walked from the underground train station near the Hotel Bristol and wandered through the towering, intricately carved and perfectly preserved buildings of Vienna, I was overwhelmingly excited for what was to come. I expected to walk into a luxurious, European paradise, an elegant throwback to times past. Unfortunately, as we pushed our way through the spinning doors of the Hotel Bristol and spilled into the lobby, I was underwhelmed. The small corridor, with reception on one side and a concierge desk on the other, was unimpressive and the service lacking.
Maybe it was because we aren’t your average ‘Hotel Bristol‘ travelers that the bellmen believed we didn’t need help. Yes, our backpacks were strapped securely to our backs, but no one offered to take them or even gave us a passing glance. They must have thought we were in the wrong place. I don’t blame them – who would of thought two young, backpack-clad walk-ins were Starwood Lifetime Platinum members. We are after all a far cry from Hotel Bristol’s usual wealthy patrons of advanced age.
We weren’t upgraded, which is absolutely fine for us, but I know a trove of other Starwood Platinum members who would be furious. The young, friendly but not overly professional or helpful receptionist informed us all available suites were booked at their appropriate rates, and the hotel was full. Instead, we were given a bottle of champagne as a peace offering.
The rooms are quaint and beautifully decorated, but somehow as underwhelming and unimpressive as the small reception area. Still, I must give them credit for being charming. The cream and light blue walls did as much to make the room seem bigger as they could, but nothing could make it feel spacious. Luckily, a closet located in the long corridor entrance was large enough for us to stash our luggage.
A small outdated television, a chair, circular table, desk and two bed-side stands are about the only items aside from the bed they could squeeze into the small space. A small mini bar was tucked away in yet another side closet.
Amid all the disappoints at the Hotel Bristol, the bed wasn’t one of them. It is by far the most comfortable, luxurious bed we’ve slept in during our more than year of world travels. The pillow top mattress literally surrounds your body giving it just the right amount of support and comfort, and the feather pillows are are perfect compliment to the top-notch, luxury bed.
The bathroom itself was almost as spacious as the room, but the pedestal sink left little room for your toiletries forcing you to balance them precariously on the edge. The bathtub itself was clean but old and lacking any sort of design – the grey marble tiles surrounding it served as a weak attempt to make it luxurious. The shower head was nothing more than a cheap, flimsy fixture akin to something you would find at a Holiday Inn, which to be honest, may in fact be home to better showers. Still, it did the trick. The old hairdryer affixed to the wall, however, did not. The extremely worn appliance overheated after two minutes of use – leaving me to stand and wait until it cooled down again before I could continue simply drying me hair. Luckily, I brought my own.
If I sound like an unhappy, snob I assure you, I am not. I am someone who expects more from a hotel listed in Starwood’s Luxury Collection line, and have found better rooms and amenities at almost all of their other collections including their Westins, Sheratons, Le Meridiens and even Four Points. For the 300 plus Euro per night price tag, the hotel Bristol is a let down. But, you’re most likely planning a trip to Vienna to see the city not the inside of a hotel.
Outside of the room, the hotel is a bizarre combination of new and old. The Hotel Bristol is currently undergoing renovations, and certain levels and sections of the hotel have already been refurbished. While I didn’t have the opportunity to peer into a new room, if they’re anything like the strangely decorated hallways and the photos online, the hotel failed to capture the elegance of the past while brining it up to par with modern expectations.
The amenities are decent. There is no pool as to be expected, and the gym located on the upper floors of the hotel is modern and well equipped. However, even the gym continues the pattern of a hotel without flow and cohesion as it does not mesh with the overall atmosphere of the hotel – if you can even put your finger on just one.
The other areas of the hotel are bizarrely laid out as well. Breakfast is served in a circular room just outside of the reception area near the Bristol Bar. It was a typical European spread of meats, cheeses, salads and breads with the addition of a yogurt bar, eggs, bacon and breakfast potatoes. A great selection of juices, champagne, still and sparkling waters and even sodas are offered as well. To be honest, for us, it was the highlight of the hotel. As Platinum guests..breakfast is free (not for Golds or other SPG members), but had we paid the 20 Euro, we may not have found it to be worth it.
Overall, while our stay at the Hotel Bristol was thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing, I expected slightly more for a luxury collection hotel. I fully understand, respect and support the need to retain a historic building’s past while investing in its future, but the Hotel Bristol is struggling with that concept. It’s a disjointed, hodgepodge of varying decors, rooms and event spaces. However, it’s a property Starwood could truly make spectacular with slightly a little more effort.