When one of Vienna’s oldest luxury hotels, the 1892-vintage Bristol, a member of the Luxury Collection, finished its rejuvenating Pierre Yves Rochon new look earlier this year, a separate adjacent breakfast buffet room, with egg chef, was added. This means, says the gal, that at lunch or dinner there are no visible buffet structures to divert the eye from the sheer beauty of what is now called the Bristol Lounge (look up, at the eight glorious 19th century Bavarian crystal chandeliers, found variously around the hotel).
Being Austrian, of course, there is a breakfast cornucopia of meats and sausage, and fish, and every kind of bread, and cake, imaginable. I sat at a beautiful lacquered-wood table with brass surrounds, looking across at the log fire – what a welcome blaze at breakfast – I had already been up to the fifth floor gym, now conveniently open 24/7. Austrians do appear able to eat and drink on and off throughout the day, but I am not immediately descended from the Hapsburgs and I need exercise to be able to justify even three eating sessions per 24 hours.
Suite 36, all 760 sq ft, is one of the new spaces converted out of the former mezzanine restaurant, Serk. As I found when staying here last time, it is Art Deco heaven, with cream and champagne tones, heavily-lacquered shiny wood and a real cocktail cabinet I can look out across Kärntnerstrasse to the Opera House – once a month the Bristol hosts, here in the hotel, afternoon tea with some of the stars of the next production (who entertain tea guests, thanks to the hotel’s own Steinway).
Locals patronise Viennese treasures, of which this is one. They are also, at this time of year, heading for the Christmas markets which pop up in many squares and other open areas of town. I can look down, through the curved all-wall glass of my suite, at a few stalls, but it is time to visit a proper market.