Culture / Travel

Vienna’s Ridiculously Grand VIP Retreat

36 Hours in the Hotel That Royalty, Celebrities and Would Be Presidents All Adore

BY // 07.19.18

VIENNA, Austria — Imagine our disappointment. With only 36 hours in our beloved Vienna and with visions of strolling the grounds of Schönbrunn and perhaps a ride on the giant ferris wheel in the Prater, we were greeted by 93 degree temps.

Yes, we are heat sissies. No, we could not deal with more than an hour on the overheated sidewalks.

But imagine our delight. We had booked two glorious nights in the famed Hotel Sacher, the lap of luxury so grand that even the royal Habsburgs would have felt at home. And with air conditioning as chilling as in any River Oaks residence, we could hardly complain. Thus, we confined our Viennese escape to concerts in the L’Orangie at  Schönbrunn and a rollicking night of Strauss and Mozart in the glowingly gilded Musikverein, sometimes called the Golden Hall.

A pity, our days would have to be spent sipping martinis in the Blue Bar, the loveliest jewel box of a bar in the world, and dining in the opulent salon known as Restaurant Grüne Bar or Green Bar.

Happily, we did not suffer from confinement. On the contrary, we relished being generously cosseted in the arms of one of the world’s finest hotels, one with an oh-so-tasty history. Those familiar with the Hotel Sacher story will recall that its nascence was the Sacher Torte, named for chef apprentice Franz Sacher, who created the chocolate and apricot confection topped with whipped cream in 1832 at the behest of Prince von Metternich.

Forty-four years later, the chef’s son, Eduard Sacher, opened the luxury hotel just opposite the Vienna State Opera in the heart of Vienna with the Sacher Torte as its hallmark. To date, only a handful of employees have seen the recipe which is kept under lock and key.

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The hotel prospered through the decades, survived World War II, and hosted a ridiculously grand coterie of VIPs.

Among the headliner guests, many of whose photos line the tiny check-in vestibule’s hall of fame, include Greta Garbo, Noel Coward, the Duke of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Leonard Bernstein, Hillary Clinton and Graham Greene, who stayed at the hotel in 1948 while researching material for The Third Man.

Hotel Sacher
The Bel Etage in Vienna’s Hotel Sacher.

History embraced, the modern-day Hotel Sacher is resplendent in Old World ambience (have we ever seen so many dazzling crystal chandeliers?) while enjoying a comfort level as contemporary as one would wish. While we spent a certain amount of time reading in our elegant “deluxe junior suite” (a pleasant upgrade thanks to the platinum AmEx card), we savored our share of cocktails in the intimate Blaue Bar or Blue Bar.

There simply could not be a more beautiful spot for imbibing. Consider the blue walls upholstered in dark blue brocade and dressed in gilt and antique paintings. Crystal chandeliers and porcelain antiques add depth to the intimate space in which tufted sofas and chairs are covered in plush deep blue velvet.

Back to back, following our evening concerts, we dined in the Restaurant Green Bar. Beyond impeccable service with Old World traditions, we were swept away by the plush surroundings. Walls and banquettes are upholstered in emerald green velvets. Windows are shrouded in deep green brocade draperies, and an array of chandeliers glisten overhead. And, yes, both nights, we indulged in Sacher Torte.

We were so enchanted with the Blue Bar and  Green Restaurant that we failed to visit the equally elegant Restaurant Rote Bar, or Red Bar. There diners can choose from lively dining in the tiled floor conservatory facing the opera house or snuggling in the intimate dining room where dark red damask walls and carpeting set the Old World ambience along with large oil paintings from previous centuries.

When the temps aren’t sizzling, the windows of the conservatory are opened to create a large terrace where piano music contributes to the experience. Next time, we’ll try for May when the spring vibe is more inviting.

Further credence to its notable stature in the travel world, Hotel Sacher is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World group.

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