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Review: Hotel Imperial Vienna, A Luxury Collection Hotel (part of Marriott Bonvoy)

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This is my review of the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, A Luxury Collection Hotel and part of Marriott Bonvoy.

As I said yesterday, with the HfP team tied up at World Travel Market, I (Conny, Rob’s wife) jumped at the opportunity for a two-night stay in Vienna to visit two Marriott Bonvoy properties.

Yesterday I looked at The Ritz-Carlton Vienna – my review is here.

The next day I walked 200 metres down the road to the Hotel Imperial. Thank you to Marriott for arranging both stays. As usual, HfP paid for all other expenses including flights.

The Hotel Imperial website is here.

Hotel Imperial Vienna review

Where is the Hotel Imperial?

Hotel Imperial is located on Kaerntner Ring, part of the famous Ringstrasse. The name Imperial raises expectations of something grand and glamorous and it doesn’t disappoint.

The location is excellent for anything you might want to do in Vienna but it is particular well situated for music lovers. The famous Vienna State Opera is across the road and the equally famous Musikverein Vienna (Vienna Music Society) is just behind the hotel. The Vienna Musikverein is the venue for the world-renowned New Year’s Concert but also hosts a multitude of other concerts, balls and events. It needs little imagination to picture yourself in Hotel Imperial donning a smart outfit and waltzing off to dance the night away at the Musikverein next door.

The Imperial was built in 1863 as a residence for a German prince and his wife, an Austrian archduchess. At that time the Ringstrasse project was a construction site with only a few of the grand buildings which line it today completed. Perhaps the young couple became fed up with the noise and dust, because the palace was sold and converted to a hotel, opening in 1873 in time for the Vienna World Fair.

Its grandeur established the hotel as the finest address in Vienna and this year marks the hotel’s 150th anniversary. The hotel has published a glossy jubilee magazine which is available in every room where you can read up on its history.

A quick tour of Hotel Imperial, Vienna

I should say upfront that this review will have shades of Rob’s recent review of the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, also part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. Both hotels are exceptional historical buildings, and well worth staying at for that reason, but you will be sacrificing some mod cons in the process.

Before I was shown my room I got a tour of the hotel, which is in a many ways one of the finest museums in Vienna. The emphasis was on the long colourful history which includes a stay by Queen Elisabeth II in 1969. One corridor has the ‘path of history’ with multiple information boards like this:

Hotel Imperial Vienna review

The interior is largely preserved as it was built and is ludicrously sumptuous. This is the Royal Staircase – you’re clearly not staying in a Holiday Inn Express here:

Hotel Imperial Vienna review

…. and here is the astonishing Fuerstensuite (Royal Suite). This suite and other top category rooms come with butler service.

Hotel Imperial Vienna Royal Suite


Hotel Imperial Vienna royal suite

My room at Hotel Imperial

I stayed in a duplex maisonette suite on the fifth floor, but I also took a look at a standard room as you will see below.

My suite was under the roof in an extension to the original building. The suite was divided with a bedroom and bathroom on one floor and a spiral staircase – which is always novel in a hotel room – leading up to a mezzanine balcony room.

Here is the bedroom area. The limitations of the historical building became clear when I realised there was no free plug next to my bed and I had to unplug the bedside lamp to charge my phone. (I found out later that the alarm clock on the other side of the bed contained a wireless charging plate.)

Hotel Imperial Vienna bedroom

Clearly this style of decor isn’t for everyone. If you stay at Hotel Imperial, you need to be willing to fully immerse yourself in the period experience. If this look isn’t for you, take a look my Ritz-Carlton review instead.

The mezzanine contained a sitting room with sofa, armchairs, coffee table, another TV and a desk. Whilst it makes maximum use of the ceiling height the space was quite dark.

Hotel Imperial Vienna suite

The room had access to an outside balcony – perhaps not big enough to sit on but wide enough to take in the stunning views over Vienna. Enjoying the sunset here was one of the highlights of my stay. The foreground below shows the Musikverein.

Hotel Imperial Vienna sunset

The marble bathroom was very spacious with two sinks, bath, shower and a separate toilet. The amenities are from Byredo.

Hotel Imperial Vienna bathroom


Hotel Imperial Vienna bathroom

Standard rooms at Hotel Imperial Vienna

I was also shown a Classic Room. This is the lowest room category.

The room was very elegant with antique furniture and heavy gathered curtains in keeping with the rest of the hotel.

Hotel Imperial Vienna classic room


Hotel Imperia Vienna classic room

…. with a similar style of bathroom to the suite, still with two sinks and Byredo toiletries:

Hotel Imperia Vienna classic room

If this look is a little too ‘classic’ for your tastes, the next category up – a Deluxe Room – has a slightly more modern design as you can see here (this is a website photo):

Imperial Hotel Vienna deluxe room

Gym and leisure facilities

Not entirely surprisingly, given its age and building restrictions, the hotel has only a small gym and few other leisure facilities.

As you can see below, whilst the gym contains all of the key machines you need, I would say that more than four people working out at any one time would be enough. There is also a sauna.

Hotel Imperial Vienna gym

Unfortunately the hotel has no spa or pool although the concierge is happy to arrange a visit to The Ritz-Carlton 200 metres away if you want a swim (see my pool photos here).

Food and drink at Hotel Imperial Vienna

I felt a bit peckish when I arrived and as my room was not ready (I was early) I did the expected thing and headed for coffee and cake in the Imperial Bar. For cake I had an Esterhazy Schnitte – a traditional Hungarian hazelnut vanilla layer cake – which was lovely.

Again, as you can see below, this is not your average hotel bar:

Hotel Imperial Vienna bar

In the evening I met with a friend in the bar for dinner, who was blown away by the three enormous sparkling chandeliers decorating the room.

In theory the bar offers small plates but when my Wagyu burger came it was full size and very tasty. The service was impeccable and the atmosphere suitably luxurious.

Hotel Imperia Vienna bar snack

The bar also offers afternoon tea and Friday jazz nights and by the time you read this it should be sporting a grand Christmas tree.

There is also Opus, a gourmet restaurant on the ground floor. This restaurant is only open on certain days (it was open when I was there and well attended) and is relatively small.

Café Imperial

The main restaurant, used for breakfast, lunch, coffee / cake and dinner, is a Viennese institution in itself – Café Imperial.

Hotel Imperial Vienna Cafe Imperial

Vienna is famous for its Kaffeehauses and Café Imperial is one of the best known. It has been a key part of the Vienna music and literature scene since it opened and is now a protected monument – I was told that they can’t even change the way that the tables are arranged.

Feel free to come here on your own – it has these slim tables for one which I loved, although the view to the street is sadly screened off, presumably for privacy reasons:

Hotel Imperial Vienna cafe imperial

If you come here you should try the well-known Imperial Cake (Imperial Torte). It was invented for the Emperior Franz Joseph I on the occasion of the hotel opening. The recipe is apparently a secret but it is delicious – a sample box of different flavours was in my room on arrival.


Breakfast is also served at Café Imperial. As well as standard international items it has Austrian specialities such as Gugelhupf, with champagne and cakes on offer too. Egg dishes, porridge and pancakes can be ordered a la carte.

Hotel Imperial Vienna breakfast

Whilst The Ritz-Carlton does not offer free breakfast to Platinum and higher members of Marriott Bonvoy, the Hotel Imperial does provide it to elites.

Hotel Imperial Vienna breakfast

Whilst the food was excellent I felt that the presentation was a bit bland in places. These jam jars, for example, are just thrown into baskets rather than being left out on tables or smartly racked.

Hotel Imperial Vienna breakfast

As you’d expect from an Austrian cafe, the daily newspapers are all available – but only if you read German!

Hotel Imperial Vienna cafe imperial

My stay also included lunch at Café Imperial. The menu is traditional Austrian food and besides schnitzel it has Viennese sausages, tafelspitz (boiled beef) and hirschragout (venison ragu) as well as fish, soups, sandwiches, ice-cream sundaes and cakes.

I went for the Original Viennese Schnitzel, although the Kaiserschmarrn (scrambled pancake with plum compote) was very tempting as well.  My plate actually came with two pieces of schnitzel plus parsley potatoes and a mixed side salad. It is a simple cafe dish but sometimes simple is best – the schnitzel was beautifully thin with a lovely butter coating.

Hotel Imperial Vienna cafe imperial

Other dining options

If you are at Hotel Imperial on a Sunday, you can book in for the regular Sunday champagne brunch in the Marble Hall:

Hotel Imperial Vienna marble hall

I also took a peek into the Festive Hall, another elaborate ceremonial room:

Hotel Imperial Vienna function hall

If you head to the ladies (and possibly also in the gents) during your meal at the hotel, you will experience something that I had never seen before.

The Hotel Imperial-branded hand towels have clearly proved a little too attractive to customers in the past. As you can just about see below, the bathrooms contain a stack of cotton hand towels, each with a hole in the corner. The towels are then looped through the holes around a metal tube.

You pull up the top one, dry your hands and then loop the towel around the tubing until it drops into a hole in the marble!

Hotel Imperial Vienna bathroom


The Hotel Imperial is a piece of history and a key part of the social fabric of the city.

It is very much an old school hotel – the female housekeeping staff still wear a black dress with a white frilly apron and a little white bonnet – and certainly not for people with a chandelier phobia.

What impressed me most was the level of service by the staff who were clearly proud to work here. I observed the concierge going well out of his way at one point to make something happen for a guest.

If you are coming to Vienna for a concert or to visit the opera, or just on a romantic getaway, then you can’t help but be wowed by the building. The furnishings mean that it won’t be for everyone but I think you will already have made your decision after seeing the photographs above. If you are a lover of historic hotels then you won’t be disappointed here.

How to book

Cash rates in a Classic Room run from €350 in January to €500 in July / August. Marriott Bonvoy redemptions can go as low as 50,000 points per night and seem to be capped at 92,000 points. This is line with the HfP valuation of 0.5p per point.

If you book via our luxury hotel booking partner Emyr Thomas at Bon Vivant, you will get the following extra benefits:

  • complimentary breakfast for two with champagne at Cafe Imperial
  • $100 of credit towards food and beverage
  • upgrade, early check-in and late check-out if available

You can contact Emyr via the form here. You pay the same as the Best Flexible Rate at and pay on departure as usual.

Thank you to Daniela and the Imperial team for their time during my stay.

You can find out more on the hotel website here.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (January 2024)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

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20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

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and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (31)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Richie says:

    A spiral staircase is no good when you’ve been to The Belvedere and had a Belvedere or two on the way back.

  • meta says:

    Regarding lack of plugs, I got tired of hotels not having usb sockets or lack of extra sockets, so I invested in extension-type plug.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Exactly what I do. Couple adapters plus a 4 gang extension.

      • AJA says:

        I do the same. I also have a separate 10m extension cable which helps if the only spare sockets are on the other side of the room. It also means I don’t have to unplug the bedside lamps.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    Typo: Elisabeth; although it sort of adds linguistic character so maybe leave it 😀

    It all sounded great until the towels on a loop … which sound like a posh version of these abominations that anyone in the UK older than 40 will remember with faint horror.

    • Lady London says:

      sustainable, though.

      very low laundry costs if they’re slready running a hotel.

  • Mike Hunt says:

    Great to finally hear from Robs wife, I was beginning to think she was a bit like Captain Mainwarings wife in Dads Army.

    • Rob says:

      Conny is at every HfP party as regular attendees will know (and my daughter is usually running the door!).

      • LittleNick says:

        Any idea of dates for HfP party next year, want to try and avoid missing it again?

        • Rob says:

          We can’t pick a date until the Euro 2024 draw takes place and we know when the England games will be. We had to cancel one pre-covid because it clashed with England playing.

          • LittleNick says:

            Ok thanks, will keep an eye out for any updates, good review as usual, thanks

  • bob says:

    so nice to get a review from the real traveller / status owner

  • Ed says:

    Really enjoyed these two reviews, thanks Conny.

  • Roberto says:

    I agree with others,

    We want more reviews done by the power behind the throne 🙂
    Great narrative, good insights, good quality !

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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