© Hotel Imperial
© Hotel Imperial

For years, the bar at the Hotel Imperial was one of the spots for a late night drink – with an inconspicuous entrance off the Ringstraße, lush and intimate, with thick carpets, red satin, braided rope and Baroque, all the subdued, comfortable elegance of a club library.

There were shared spaces and quiet corners, a round mahogany bar where you could be alone or find a conversation, or just listen to Thomas on the piano. A place to toast a special occasion or decompress after a concert and for all its distinction, surprisingly uncomplicated.

A recent invitation at “the Imperial Bar”, however, took us to a completely different part of the hotel – to a yawning Festsaal off Bösendorferstrasse, with ornate wall panels, parquet and mahogany, magnificent, but cold.  Where was the bar?

With discomfort bordering on irritation, a clerk reported there had been renovations….  The bar was gone.

Then, just days later, the news was out: The Hotel Imperial has been purchased (for €78.8 million) by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor. Among his plans: to return the café and the bar to their “original condition.”

It sounds like good news. Particularly if it means that the Hotel Imperial will again become part of the daily life of the Viennese.