Hotel Le Meridien Vienna: Experience Report
When I was searching for an Hotel for my 5 days visit to Vienna in November 2007, my attention was caught by the Hotel Le Meridien. In the many different internet portals on which one can obtain some information concerning the hotel bookings I got the impression by the pictured 5 stars that the Hotel Le Meridien is a five star hotel in Vienna. For me, 5 stars are a guarantee that the hotel will keep a certain standard at an always equal level. And I respectively looked forward to it when I decided to pay good money for this luxury service.
Not earlier than when this report was almost finished I became increasingly sceptical about the committee of control and to which extent they could have probably go wrong, so I called the tourist service of Vienna and been told that the Le Meridien is still not classified up to date (January 2008). This means that until now, the Hotel Le Meridien has not been checked objectively yet. Then I called again the hotel and got informed by a recepcionist that Meridien understands itself as a luxury hotel and thus it orientates to a five star standard, but in fact it does not have them.
Afterwards, things get more clear to me. And I am angry about myself as I did not investigate previously. As, what I had to experience during my stay in the Le Meridien of Vienna, is: to orientate at five stars does not necessarily mean to consequently offer a five star service.
Those who know my numerous hotel reports on this website will miss a lot of pictures in this hotel report. In fact, the hotel informed me in written form that it is not allowed to me to public the pictures.
I can already say that the arrangement of the interior of the hotel is extravagant and everything else than usual, but according to my opinion, there is no reason to abstain from pictures. Those who like modern arrangements will highly like the hotel's arrangement, those who like it more conventional and also traditional will be deterred. It is purely a matter of taste.
Generalities about the Hotel
The Hotel Le Meridien is very centrally located, diagonally opposite to the Opera of Vienna, right at the same named Opernring. This has either advantages as also disadvantages. On one hand, one gets from here very fast to the most important sightseeings of the centre of Vienna on foot as the Hofburg, Albertina or to the museum quarters. But at night, it can get very loud there due to the high traffic at the Opernring in case one wants to sleep with an open window.
The Le Meridien wurde was opened in November 2003 in a former insurance building. It is a very modern hotel and has more than 290 rooms that are offered in five different price segments. The service personnel was rather young and the guest were also rather young and international.
Reception Area and First Impression
The large corner building located at the Opernring is, from the outside, of a quite representative impression. I had to wait some minutes until I finally could park right in front of the hotel in order to unload the baggage. The portier came immediately to park my car in the parking place, a thing that in the last day resulted to be a miracle. Nobody informed about the tremenduously high fees for the parking place one was forced to use due to the lack of parking space in the surroundings.36 &euros; per day; quite a sum if one stays a couple of days.
Unfortunately, the very modern arranged entrance area was inconveniently desigend considering the capacities of such a big building. As it was later the case, I had to wait quite a while in the queue of the reception not only the day I arrived. To me, it soon turned to an atmosphere of a waiting room like it is at the counter of the central station, where one partly also has to wait an eternity to get one's ticket.
The fact that Le Meridien is not an hotel in the sense of a classic house of tradition was already familiar to me from the internet research. I wanted to enjoy the benefits of a modern and beautiful atmosphere. At some points, the intensive colours of the reception hall alse were very pleasant, but in general, the exhibits of modern arts in the glass cabinets seemed quite wired to me. I appreciate the engagement of this house to put a show room at the disposal of the artists, but it did not meet my taste.
I lived in a so-called 'executive room', which price was assigned to the middle of the five categories. The first impression of the room was very bright and the room distribution generously arranged. Due to the reason that the room at the corner was arranged with two window fronts, I was insofar lucky to be able to look at both directions. The feeling to be able to walk from/to two separated rooms and two bathrooms and/or extra toilet tramsmitted a generous and open living character. Not until I was there for some time, some disadvantages came out. As altready mentioned: I thought I resided in a five star hotel, but then I was respectively disconcerted and partly speechless about some details, had partly doubts about my own taste, thought maybe I have to think this is nice but unfortunately I did not find it nice at all.
Beside a big round dining table with four chairs, a desk and a corner with a couch, there were enough seats, but resulted to be very uncomfortable. The sitting surface of the couch was much too short to lay on, but the seat back was disturbing while sitting in it and the seats of the chairs and armchairs slightly tilted to the front, so that soon, I did not look forward simply to relax in between. Any time I tried I could not conceive how uncomfortable for example the armchair was. The visual appearance was not really bad, but I could onlöy sit in by laying my legs on the couch so that at least I could feel a holding in my back.
But therefore, the bed was more than excellent. It was very comfortble and wide, also the selection of cushions was arranged for several tastes. They were ideal for watching TV in the evenings, as the oversized screen was fixed in the other room and right vis a vis to the bed.
But anyhoy I could not sleep very well. During the first night, the air in the room was so dry that I would have liked to sleep with the window opened. Unfortunately, the noise level was so loud due to the main traffic road that I abstained from opening the window. But I wanted to be more clever in the following days and opened the window during the day. But unfortunately, the service personnel closed the window any time and switched off the air conditioner.
In the room there was a flat TV with screen of more than one metre. This was really sensational,.specially because one could nicely watch TV from the bed. But the TV had an implemented hotel menu over which it was quite complicated to adjust the TV. It took some time until one could finally watch TV. But then it was really a pleasure.
In the room there also was a WLAN-internet connection with free access so that one could connect one's notebook straight away. But I had a lot of problems with that, as the connection did not work. But what actually was annoying is the reaction of the personnel of the reception in relation to my related question. As they thought that the error was due to the configurations of my laptop (firewall etc.), my work was quite delayed as I looked for the error without any success. Then I got the phone number of a special technician who was supposed to have a look at my laptop in order to find the presumed error. But as he arrived, he immediately remembered that the connection device at the desk did not work anymore and provided, again with some delay, a long WLAN-cable, so that I could access the internet from the connection at the other side of the wall. From that time, there was always a long WLAN-cable amidst my hotel room - a perfect opportunity for stumbling. If such a thing happenes and even the hotel personnel is aware of this, why is it then not possible to leave a note so that the needless waiting times and justifications do not occur? What I do require form an hotel of the upper pricve level is service and consciousness in order to avoid unnecessary complications. In this case, I was simply speechless!
Also the other attentions that people love from a 5 stars hotel as fresh fruits or something sweet in between were rather modest. Concerning fresh fruits, there were two granny apples laying there over 5 days. During the first two afternoons, we got some chocolate or in the evenings a small bedtime sweet on the cushion, but everything seemed to be loveless. I did not expect a huge arrangement, but I have experienced nicer things in other hotels. However, they congratulated me on my birthday with a bottle of sparkling wine.
There were several details I simply did not like during my stay. For example, the design itself. Even if I found the colour and style of the furniture quite appealing, it simply did not feel complete or right. 5 different and quite intensive colours on the wall, curtains, ceiling: I did not find it really harmonical and aesthetic. Also the indirectly illuminated paintings or the cups inscened as large picture behind a glass board phosphoring at the top of the bed: as known, there is no accounting for taste. But it was not my taste at all.
In general, the arrangement had the effect of "meant to be otriginal but somehow totally wrong" to me: For example the glasses standing on the living room table beside a small cactus were more adequate for looking at them than for using them. Due to the reason that the glasses had a plain bottom but were otherwise crooked, I found them rather unhandy for drinking. Also the coffee cups made of metal rather reminded me on picknick cups for outside. I wondered: What's that supposed to mean? If the guest has the opportunity to be refreshed in between - by the way, the minibar was free of charge - why in such an excessively original way? here, some more normality and/or simplicity would have been approppriate, because shapely dinnerware can also be pleasantly handy. But as said, it is a matter of taste, those who like it might enjoy it.
There was an implemented safe in the cupboard that could be used for free. The safe was secured by a secret number code taht one could choose by oneself. What can be positively mentioned is that the safe was quite spacious so that not only money and documents but also a reflex camera and a notrebook could be easily kept there.
Also in the bathroom the appearance came into my mind before the funcionality. At first sight, I liked the bathroom, completely styled in satinated glass. Also the warm floor and the pre-warmed towels were quite cosy. But there was only one one washbasin for a double room and the place of deposit all around it was sparse. Also, the shower that was announced to be almost a massage-wonder resulted to be a nice gag. There were indeed different jets which height and pressure could be adjusted but I rather felt as in a cas wash more than under a shower.
Service and Hotel Personnel
The personnel was always friendly and helpful if one expressed his wishes. Thus, for example, one could choose in the cafeteria of the basement a piece of cake and it was brought to the room. But we did not have much contact with the hotel personnel as most of the times there were queues at the reception when we went in and out, so that we abstained from asking the one or the thing.
I would like to highlight the car service: by arriving, one simply let the portier take the car over and he brought it to the parking place. Before leaving the hotel, one simply had to announce it so that the car was placed in front of the hotel. By this way, one did not have to care about anything, as the parking place was not right at the hotel.
Eating and Drinking in the Hotel
There is the restaurant Shambala in Hotel Le Meridien, in which it is also possible to have breakfst in the mornings,the Shambala Ba' and the Café Boulevard, where one can have some snacks and drinks in between.
Initially, I booked my stay in the hotel on the phone with breakfast. Apparently, a missunderstanding ocurred during the booking so that my booking was saved without breakfast. Thus, in the first morning after I anyway already stood in the queue for the breakfast, I had to wait again until the error was cleared. After that I could have had reakfast by paying a very high surcharge. After looking to the crowds before and behind myself in the queue and the small tables at which I'd only have limited space for my arms, I preferred to have breakfast in the city.
This proved to be very good, as Vienna is the city of the cafés: there are hundreds or even thousands of small and big cafés where one can have a cosy and cheap breakfast (breakfast of Vienna). Any time, the atmosphere was anew fascinating and it was very tasty as well any time. By this way, we surely got more introduced to Vienna as if we had breakfast in the hotel any time.
What was very tasty were the sandwiches and the sweets of the café of Le Meridien. Here, there were quiches, chicken sandwiches with an indish taste or also several sorts of cake and pastries of several tastes. Very good and a welcomed opportunity to have a snack in between when coming back from a sightseeing tour.
The bar was in total very appealing and styled. Unfortunately I do not know how the drinks tasted there, as I preferred to go to the city in the evenings. But when I came back to the hotel in the late evening there was still something going on there.
The follwing sentence was originally stated on 8.1.2008 on the internet page of Le Meridien under the point 'Restaurants': 'Shambala Restaurant – the imaginative and sophisticated viands, which spiritual father is the star chief Michel Rostang who holds 1 michelin star, will not disappoint any palate.' What should the reader hereunder imagine exactly? On the phone, an employee explained me that the cooks of the Shambala Restaurant prepare the creations of the french chief, thus they are orientated to Michel Rostang. The Shambala Restaurant itself has been awarded with a bonnet by the Gault Millau Austria 2007. Why is it then not possible to name things the way they are? I got the impression that the advertisement focuses on 'more than existent'. There is no need to be ashamed for a bonnet-restaurant!
Even if the menu choice was attractive: from scallops, lobster and quails to more than 4 sorts of fish and meat, I was still very insecure due to the total impression I got so far from the hotel and thought if there was also not more hype than substance also in the concern of the food. Due to the very high prices I wanted to be careful in order not get disappointed again. Thus, I cannot evaluate the food and service of this restaurant. Maybe it would have been a small highlight?
Sports and Relaxation
The swimming pool area was one of the decisive reasons why I choosed the Le Meridien amongst the hotels of Vienna. I like it to have the opportunity to swimm some laps or simply splash a litte in the evenings - specially after having had a day full of new impressions. And considering the distances that one can walk in Vienna in one day, the feet do ache soon. Unfortunately, in Vienna there a only a few hotels that are so exclusively arranged that offer an additional swimming pool.
By this way, I was occasionally delighted to wear only my bathrobe and be relatively protected by the views of the other guests and get through a separate lift right from my alleyway into the sports centre. This separate lift was only for the sports area; thus, it was not necessary to stand in the lift in bathrobe with people wearing a suit and a tie. Kudost!
But unfortunately, the disappointment came soon: the pool is really as small as I was afraid of by looking at the pictures of the internet. It was ok for swimming some laps if being alone there, but with more than two people, the pool became much too limited for me. Then 10 beach chairs that were available there were nearly always covered with a towel, so that a getting a beach chair was rather a stroke of luck than the standard. Unfortunately, there was also not a separate room specially for relaxing after the sauna, so that I didn't feel any more like giong to sauna and steam bath. Specially with the presence of children, the already much too small room got a sound level like in an open air bath. Also the whirlpool that rather reminded on a large sparkling tube, was crowded soon, so that I have to say that I understand a different thing under relaxation.
But those who are conformed with such a small pool will enjoy the dapper arrangement. The whole sports area made a very clean and dapper impression. And there were also nough towels too.
Right beside the small swimming pool there was a small fitness area with some sports devices. This fitness room was highly frequented any time and the trainers who offered an individual support, made all a very nice impression to me. Also all the different devices seemed to be of a modern standard and were very clean.
The hotel Le Meridien is surely the hotel in Vienna of a different kind. In a city that lives from old habits and old traditions, I did not feel good at all in such a modern arranged hotel. I would have surely liked more the extravagant rooms with the numerous designer pieces in a modern city as Singapur or Kuala Lumpur, but not in Vienna. But this is purely a matter of taste and it was not my taste at all. This is why I will not recommend this hotel, next time I am visitng Vienna I will spend the night in another hotel and surely save a lot of money.
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