A decent gin and tonic at Atmosphere Rooftop Bar, Ritz Carlton Vienna

3 gins and stephansdom

Last chance for a gin and tonic with my friends FotoMarathonMan and AkhalTekeGal before they depart for their annual summer soaking and cooling in Yorkshire. We had fixed the date weeks ago and hoped that the weather would be good enough to try out the roof top bar at the Ritz Carlton. It is the only open air roof top bar on Vienna’s Ring.

The Gin

The Atmosphere roof top bar offers a small list of cocktails. This month’s specials are vodka infusions served in a copper teapot. But it was gin we were after. The house Gin Chiller is a cocktail based on Tanqueray 10, Fentimans tonic and a secret mix of herbal something or other added. The rest of the gin offering is the standard Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Monkey 47, Hendricks, Beefeater list. Perfectly acceptable, but far from thrilling in these times of gin being “in.” The Gin Chiller is delicious and refreshing and contains a generous amount of the citrussy 10; a slice of blush (that’s pink) grapefruit and a golf ball sized ice sphere fill the glass. The little bottle of Fentiman’s tonic is served at the side.  You can sit for a long time just adding a drop more tonic as the ice melts and dilutes the gin into a summery long drink. The drinks were served with a little bowl of salty nibbles and there is a small menu offering bar snacks. Prices are in the normal 5 star hotel range.

gin and sky

The service

We were greeted by a friendly young Dutch lady who offered us a choice of tables in the sun or in the shade. Another young Dutch lady came to take our order. They wore uniform white sunglasses. Our drinks were delivered by a young man. All the staff at rooftop bar seemed to be quite young and enthusiastic, but to be honest, they lacked the attentiveness and attention to detail that I expect of a Ritz Carlton. I have had amazing service there in the past, so that experience will not stop me from going back there for a proper cup of tea, or so.

The ambience

The roof top is very comfortably furnished and offers a mixture of table space, bar stools and lounge areas. There are fleece blankets and comfy cushions. The views over the city are not spectacular as it is only on the 8th floor, but you can still see a fair amount, including Vienna’s landmark ferris wheel hiding amongst the high rise blocks of the controversial skyline project.

riesenrad with towers

Other guests

We found the usual mixture of hotel guests, business people and locals, but none of the caricatures of European bourgeoisie that one finds in the lobby area of these grand hotels. So, if people watching is your thing, I’d stick to those areas of the hotel that are more easily accessed from the street by the mad.

The facilities

There is just a small ladies room for use by the roof top bar guests.  It is clean and functional. The hand towels are a compromise: not paper, not cloth, but that non woven fibre that is most often used as disposable tablecloths. It dries hands, so I suppose that is all that really matters. The soap and hand cream are in glass dispensers, smell nice and leave your hands soft.

bathroom

What my guests thought

FotoMarathonMan was first to go and check the facilities. He came back very flustered and muttering something about points to be deducted for poor signposting. When it was time for me to sneak off there with my camera, he challenged me to find it. I did find it in the end, and I must also say that I checked the sign on the way back and there is a sign just exactly where you would expect to see it at the bottom of the stairs, but I really only found it after wandering all round the 7th floor of the hotel looking for the ladies room. FotoMarathonMan was also less than impressed with the service. AkhalTekeGal enjoyed the cool breeze and the view.  She was glad to be relaxing in relatively comfortable surroundings having spent the afternoon tending her Akhal Teke in the heat of the Austrian prairie. We discussed gin, and they resolved to try Yorkshire gin on their trip. As for tonic, we wondered how Fentimans had managed to remain largely unheard of for more than a century before becoming one of the tonics of choice of Ginnoisseurs. We must to do more research on tonic waters. FotoMarathonMan and AkhalTekeGal are my tonic water “mules.”  They are always kind enough to pop some slimline tonic into their car for me when driving back from their Yorkshire trip. It is not available here, so I am forever grateful to them for the supply. I keep the real stuff for special occasions and I bring back Soda Stream Slimline Tonic Concentrate in my suitcase for the Friday night 7pm Gintime ritual.

Final recommendation

We had a lovely time at Atmosphere, even if there were some small shortcomings, so overall, we’d give it 3.5 tumblers out of a possible 5.

Now, although chandeliers, are more part of tea ambience, I thought you would like to see these modern ones that hang on the meeting room mezzanine floor at the Ritz Carlton. Chandeliers scream to me to check for lightbulbs that need changing. A friend in the facility management business told me they used to just change all the bulbs at a certain interval even if they were still working and he claimed that this was more efficient than checking and changing as needed. It saddens me to find those dark spots in those beautiful chandeliers. There was a small dark spot in this one.chandelier ritz carlton vienna

 


http://www.masonsyorkshiregin.com

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Vienna/Dining/Atmosphere/Default.htm

 

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A proper cup of tea at Great Fosters

A proper cup of tea at Great Fosters

10 hours to spare between flights into and out of London Heathrow,  surely enough time for a proper cup of tea. At first I considered heading into town to check out the “reference cup of tea” once more. However, I was in luck, it was a public holiday and my friend SurreyDanceLady kindly volunteered to pick me up from T5, take me for a proper cup of tea (and a perfectly acceptable lunch) at Great Fosters, and drop me back to T3 for my onward flight. Great Fosters is only one junction round the M25 from LHR, so it is really an ideal spot for anyone who wants to spend a few pleasant hours between flights, or impress a client with a nice lunch or afternoon tea.

The tea

Great Fosters has a Tea Guild commendation, so we were optimistic. The selection is quite small, but that is compensated by the quality of the offering. I ordered Darjeeling and SurreyDanceLady opted for peppermint. When the silver teapots arrived I was quite excited. “Reference cup of tea” is served in a silver pot. I waited a few minutes before pouring. That’s when it all went pear-shaped. The silver pots have the meanest little spouts that pour more tea on the table than into the cup. The just-one-between-two-of-us strainer had about eight small holes, so it took the best part of, oh, say, a minute to pour just one small cup of tea. The cups were fine Limoges, not entirely in keeping with the building and surroundings, but quite good cups just the same. Since I drink my tea without milk or sugar, I like to have either the possibility to remove the leaves to prevent bitterness, or a pot of hot water lest the tea becomes too strong.We had booked a table for lunch, so we did not try any cakes. A homemade chocolate chip cookie was served with the tea. It was edible.

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The service

Every single member of staff was polite, friendly and helpful. When we arrived there were two young men working behind the reception desk who reminded me very much of Gilbert and George. Our waiter for the cup of tea was friendly and efficient and the service at lunch was equally good. The wine waiter deserves a special mention, but further comments about our lunch go beyond the scope of this blog, even if those were perhaps the best chips I have ever eaten; better even than in Belgium. We had really wanted to eat in their fine dining restaurant, but it is closed on Mondays. If the standard of the Estate Grill is anything to go by, then I will be very happy to try the Tudor Room. As we left, they had started serving afternoon tea. Every available spot was decked out with linen and silver.

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The ambience

Great Fosters has been furnished with care and taste. A mixture of traditional olde worlde English and lovely modern elegant rooms guarantees that everyone will find a place where they feel comfortable. The floral displays are impressive and although I was there for several hours, I did not find a speck of dust anywhere. Linen and silver, tasteful furnishings and fine art are the order of the day. I particularly liked some of the modern art that was hanging and wished I had time to find out more about it.

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Great Fosters also has lovely formal gardens and a large pond and wooded area, so we enjoyed a little walk before lunch. Unfortunately the noise from the nearby M25 rather spoils the outdoor experience.

garden

tudor building

flowers

ducks

The other guests

The guests changed as the day went on. We arrived fairly early and met hotel residents. As lunchtime neared,  a few “ladies who lunch” appeared. When we took our seats at lunch it was mainly couples in the dining room. However, near us there were three round tables with “Happy 80th Birthday” balloons. I was hoping that some spirited octogenarian would arrive with a bunch of spritely pals. Instead a family group arrived. The birthday boy looked like he probably spent most of his retirement on the Costa del Sol and I reckon that there were a few camel coats in the cloakroom that day. Afternoon tea guests were a mixture of lunching lady types, families taking their mum for a treat and people on reconnaissance visits for Essex girl hen parties.

The facilities

The ladies on the ground floor is decorated in keeping with the rest of the building and the colour is very similar to my bedroom, so I consider it to be restful and elegant. However, behind those duck egg doors, the cubicles are cramped and functional. Soap and handcream are supplied by Crabtree and Evelyn. SurreyDanceLady thought that was OK, but considering that so many things are home-grown and other suppliers are carefully selected, I think soap products from an artisan would add a nice touch. We were happy to see proper hand towels.

ladies

SurreyDanceLady had this to say:

‘A ‘nice’ place for a decent cup of tea and lunch near Heathrow Airport? I think Great Fosters Hotel fits that description very well. It’s about a 10 minute drive from Terminal 5 if you follow the signs correctly. A beautiful, restored Tudor hunting lodge retaining some lovely period features and giving a sense of history to the occasion.

I think the first thing to note is that the service is excellent. Without exception the staff are friendly, polite and nothing seems like too much trouble. We asked for morning tea and were offered the lounge or the terrace. We chose the latter as it was a lovely morning. Our waiter didn’t offer a tea menu initially so small deduction on the teapot scale for that. Fussyladyabroad felt the tea choice was somewhat limited but opted for Darjeeling. I had my usual peppermint. It arrived promptly in lovely silver teapots with very nice Limoges china. We discussed the fact that a quintessential English hotel really should provide English crockery but the Limoges was very pretty. Only one tea strainer between two – another small deduction.We had booked a table for 1pm but decided to go in a little earlier – no problem at all. Could we store a bag and coat – of course, no trouble. An excellent lunch menu, very attentive staff and a wine waiter with a luxuriant moustache – I enjoyed it all very much.

We decided to take our post lunch tea and coffee away from the restaurant, where the 80th birthday party was in full swing. Could we have our drinks in the lounge? Our waiter regretfully advised that the whole place was fully booked for their very popular afternoon teas but did offer us a short tour of the public reception rooms on a ‘here’s where you could have sat’ basis. Back to the chilly terrace for us but the seats did have lovely fleece blankets for guest use. Drinks arrived promptly again with a complimentary plate of petit fours which were very yummy indeed. The pouring ability of the teapots hadn’t improved.

I had a lovely few hours there and would definitely recommend as we were treated very well. There were a few issues but they were minor really. If we are just judging tea I would give it maybe 3 teapots out of 5 but overall I would give 4 stars because the staff were great and the place is beautiful.’

 Final recommendation

tea guild award

The afternoon tea at Great Fosters is probably worthy of this  award, but I suspect the accolade was earned more for the ambience and the food part than for the tea itself. There was nothing at all wrong with the tea, but it was not quite what a Fussylady might expect for a proper cup of tea.

The tea itself would earn this place 3 little teapots out of a possible 5, but the beautiful ambience and the friendliness of the staff earned a further teapot, so that Great Fosters joins the group of 4 teapot establishments.


http://www.greatfosters.co.uk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_%26_George

A proper cup of tea at Bayerischer Hof Munich

A proper cup of tea at Bayerischer Hof Munich

A work trip to Munich, and another opportunity to go looking for a proper cup of tea. Now, I know that there are one or two perfectly decent tea houses in Munich, such as Victoria House and the Friesische Teestube, but I wondered how the 5 star hotels would manage to serve a fussy lady her national drink. I asked the locals at the work meeting where I should take my tea, and they said that the Bayerischer Hof had been named the best hotel in Germany by the industry website hotelier.de and according to Focus it is the second most expensive hotel in Germany. And so, a plan was made with my friend PenelopePunctual. She’s British too, but in a “Norn Iron” kind of way. After an hour of waiting, and with no sign of PenelopePunctual, I headed alone to the Bayerischer Hof. Back in the day, the Bayerischer Hof and the Vier Jahreszeiten vied for top place in the Munich luxury hotel rankings. In the meantime, there’s a bit more competition.

The tea

The lobby lounge was quiet when I arrived. Any 5 star hotel in London will be buzzing at this hour with people enjoying afternoon tea. Today, the buzz in Munich is in the beer gardens.

biergarten

There is a small selection of tea and I ordered the Spring Darjeeling. I waved away the cream, lemon juice and bewildering selection of sweetening products. The waitress told me to let the tea infuse for two to three minutes. I remember now, that at home, we used to let our tea draw. German tea pulls. Anyway, I was glad there was a little glass bowl to hold the high end tea bag when the time came for the bag to be removed. Munich water is notoriously hard and tea becomes bitter very quickly if you do not remove the leaves, high end tea bag, or dust filled paper on a string. No cake was ordered as there was no-one there to eat it. I assumed that PenelopePunctual would find me there once she picked up the message I left, but her cake eating opportunity had definitely passed. As you can see the crockery is nothing fancy and the teapot has a crack. Oh dear. The tea tasted fine, nonetheless.

tea tray

Tea

The service

The staff, who were quite young and probably trainees, were lovely. They spoke with a noticable Bavarian accent. I noted a slight lack of confidence. Am I that scary? chandelierIMG_0318

The ambience

The Bayerischer Hof has a range of restaurants and bars to choose from. Of course, only some of them are suitable for a fussy cup of tea, but I did a brief tour, just to be sure. There is a fabulous terrace on the roof linked to their Spa restaurant. When PenelopePunctual arrived, we zoomed up there to see if we might take dinner overlooking the Munich skyline. The sight of groups of business men and people in bathrobes had us back in that lift without so much as a decent gin and tonic to watch the sunset by.  The lobby lounge is sleek and comfortable and leads to the stunning bar.The bar miraculously survived bombing in WWII which destroyed the rest of the hotel. The chandelier scan told me that we were far from Vienna and Lobmeyr. The entrance offers a rather mean looking effort which is decorated with real candles, their realness evidenced by the erratic alignment. The glass dome over the lobby lounge is a small compensation and provides a nice sense of light and space. IMG_0319
And the Falk’s bar is like a huge mirrored blue lit wedding cake with gin on tap.I shall return here for a drink one day to give that bar its own review.

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Other guests

When I arrived, there was some conference of German business men crowding the lobby and just a few hotel guests in the lobby lounge. As time went on, some local ladies arrived. They were quite obviously from Munich, not because they were wearing dirndls, but because they were dressed in the kind of overly decorated blazers and jackets that they probably bought from Escada in its Munich heyday. There was a time when half the women in Munich gadded about in jackets with gold embroidery and outfits that declared their designer provenance by the use of bright colours. So, I would often see people at work in the classic shift dress and blazer combination that we British ladies buy in M&S, but the dress would be pink and the blazer would be lilac with gold embroidery. Those ladies who were meeting at the Bayerischer Hof that evening had kept those outfits. The hotel guests were either European business types, or global travellers in t-shirts and baseball caps.

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The facilities

The facilities are one floor below and shared with the hotel’s night club and one of the restaurants. There is suede on the walls. The lighting is such that the ladies from the lobby will not see the passing of the decades on their faces. This thoughtful decision by the designer means that the lighting is such that the cleaning staff probably cannot see properly to clean. So, although basic cleanliness is fine, the added sparkle of glorious 5 star uncompromising cleanliness is missing. The recycled paper hand towels are a disappointment. The soap has no name and there is no hand lotion.

IMG_0331

…And my companions

the ones in my head

CraftyLinguist and MadFrenchLady were not with me, but they had somehow taken up residence in my head. When I saw the menu, and the offer of Rhubarb Triffle, I could hear CraftyLinguist’s completely reasonable, oft-repeated speech about how shocking it is that 5 star establishments take so much care with everything else, yet somehow find it OK to let schoolchildren and internet machines translate menus. For their sakes, I checked out the cake selection. The Rhubarb “Triffle” in a whisky glass looked more like stewed rhubarb with custard and cream on top. The other cakes seemed to have been made on the premises, but the Käsesahnetorte, which is a light fluffy whipped cheesecake with a sponge base, was curling at the edges. The Apfelkuchen looked good, as long as you like cinnamon. One thing that annoys me about the Germanic cakes is that they never seem to use apples without adding cinnamon. Now, I like cinnamon and I like apples. But I prefer my apples without cinnamon. Every time I eat Apfelstrudel or Apfelkuchen, I find myself thinking just how delicious it would be without cinnamon. I am reminded of an afternoon tea at Gleneagles some 25 years ago, when the Swiss pastry chef of the time added cinnamon to the scones. A sad day for scones.

and the real one

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PenelopePunctual was, in fact, on time that day, but she was not quite “on message.” The law of “this sort of thing” had us waiting for eachother at different ends of the same bus stop: me assuming she had been delayed at work; and she “off message”with her phone left on her desk.

Outside the Bayerischer Hof there is a monument to Orlando di Lasso which has been colonised by Michael Jackson fans. Hotel staff told us that Michael Jackson stayed at the hotel many times and therefore his fans have set up and maintain this memorial to him  PenelopePunctual and I inspected the tributes in some detail and jointly despaired for the bereaved fans, and for society as a whole.

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Final recommendation

The Bayerischer Hof is a first class hotel and offers a range of bars and restaurants for all tastes. So, you will be comfortable there. However, considering the teabags and the cracked pot, if it is a proper cup of tea you are after, go elsewhere. Bayerischer Hof, for a proper cup of tea, earns 2 teapots out of a possible 5.

 


Bayerischer Hof from outside

http://www.bayerischerhof.de/en/hotel/

http://www.victorianhouse.de/

http://www.friesische-teestube.de/

A proper cup of tea at Hotel Imperial Vienna

A proper cup of tea at Hotel Imperial Vienna

Our spirits needed brightening up on a cold rainy afternoon in Vienna in May.  The sparkle of the chandeliers at the Hotel Imperial added the glamour we needed for our ladies’ tea outing. We arrived stressed and wet having dashed out of the office in the pouring rain.  One thing I am not fussy about is getting wet.  MadFrenchLady was of course properly equipped with an elegant umbrella. We took the tram.  An elderly Austrian lady in the tram remonstrated with MadFrenchLady.  “Madam, your umbrella is wet” she said. “And yours is dry?” I asked.  “Well, no, but hers is wet.” What can you do?  This is another of  the joys of an expat.  You never quite learn all the subtle rules. MadFrenchLady wisely  stayed silent. We laughed and wondered how we should manage to keep our umbrellas dry in future. CraftyLinguist was waiting in the lobby surrounded by shopping bags from the exclusive stores nearby. It was time for tea.

The tea

Hotel Imperial has its own tea blend and a small selection of other teas. CraftyLinguist ordered their own blend, MadFrenchLady opted for green tea and I, prompted by the advice of a reader of our Palais Hansen report, took the Assam and anticipated toffee. The tea is served in a little porcelain pot, loose leaves in a bag, with a jug of hot water and a little dish for the bag. Milk was not offered. The Hotel Imperial blend is fragrant and delicate. CraftyLinguist conceded that milk would probably have spoiled it. The green tea and the Assam were both fine. So, Imperialtorte is the one to try, and CraftyLinguist ordered a teensy slice.  She had skipped lunch in the hope of a full afternoon tea, but it is not on offer, so she plotted a dinner out instead. MadFrenchLady seems to like cakes built up in layers and ordered Esterhazyschnitte, which is a layered hazelnut cake with some kind of vanilla buttercream between the layers and icing on top. It turned out she was expecting something more millefeuille like. She pronounced the Esterhazyschnitte to be too rich, but ate it anyway. In general we found the cake selection to be in line with what a tourist would expect to find and probably sufficient to feed the preferences of the locals, but, all in all, nothing to get excited about.

tea

The service

We were welcomed by a waiter who is probably an institution in his own right. There were a couple of young men assisting. They were polite and discrete, but spoke readily and with confidence when we asked them questions about the ongoing renovation project. We stayed long enough to slide into the cocktail hour and I was tempted by a Bloody Mary, which my sort-of-nephew CocktailBanker describes as “basically just vodka with pasta sauce.”  I asked the waiter if I could expect a proper Bloody Mary or the CocktailBanker version. He was not keen to declare, so I ordered it anyway and CraftyLinguist ordered a Virgin Mary. It came down more on the CocktailBanker side. The waiter returned to ask our opinion and was apologetic when we guessed that the tomato juice was the cheap supermarket brand. He promised to “pass it on to the kitchen.”  Anyway, the relaxed friendly service continued and we were happy.

cup of tea

tea and table

The ambience

There’s something for everyone at the Hotel Imperial. The cafe is recently renovated and has two rooms, one of which is in the classic Viennese coffee-house style and the other is a modern interpretation of the same theme. The lobby lounge is olde worlde charm in the best tradition of the house and it was here that we took our tea. The seating is in groups of traditionally upholstered armchairs and sofas. The mirrored fireplace and the rather strange false bookshelves at the top of the walls spoil the effect of an otherwise charming room. The beautiful chandeliers are the inspiration for the Christmas lights used along Vienna’s Graben.imperial_chandeliers

Other guests

When we arrived, the lounge was rather empty. Four sole business men had placed themselves far apart in the cafe and were working on their ipads and laptops. In the lobby lounge a group of serious looking deal making men occupied one of the sofa groups and we chose the far corner to have a better overview of proceedings. Soon, two ladies arrived and one of them greeted us in the manner of a famous person graciously acknowledging the presence of her adoring public. None of us recognised her, but that did not seem to matter. HM the Queen stayed at the Imperial when she came to Vienna and other heads of state seem to like it too.  Many of the musicians playing at the Musikverein also stay there as they can just slip out of the back door and be right at the stage door of the concert hall.

A pianist played popular classics and songs that everyone knows. As the afternoon went on, he must have decided to have some fun and as new guests arrived, he would try to guess their nationality and then play a few ditties.  And so we heard some Russian, Japanese and American music. The “Russian” gentlemen headed straight for the mirrored fireplace seats.

mirrored fireplace

lobby lounge

The facilities

There is renovation work on the ground floor, so the facilities are upstairs for now.  The staircase is impressive and Kaiser Franz Josef stands at the top in imperial splendour. The facilities are rather modest and furnished with pieces which have been decommissioned from bedrooms. To our amazement, the standard of cleanliness was not quite as one would expect, even though MadFrenchLady had spotted a cleaning lady in action who was dressed just like a parlour maid from Upstairs Downstairs. That’s “Haus am Eaton Place” for the German speakers out there. There was dust on a ledge and behind the door of the cubicle.

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facilities imperial

What my companions thought of it

Those translations again. This time, CraftyLinguist was even more emphatic in her condemnation because, as well as the poor quality tranlations, there were inappropriate capital letters sprinkled throughout the menu and, horror of horrors, an exclamation mark. I think it is fair to say that it is never, ever right to put an exclamation mark in a menu. Or maybe there is just one exclamation mark that might have pleased her:  if she had found a page with the title “Yes, we do offer afternoon tea, complete with scones and clotted cream!” MadFrenchLady declared herself unfit to evaluate tea, but when pressed, she grudgingly pronounced that it was drinkable because “at least the water did not have bleach in it, like it does in France.”  She said I must visit France again and  promised to show me a nice Salon de thé where the cakes and other little delicacies will compensate for the bleach drenched dust they call thé.

Final recommendation

Our overall experience in Hotel Imperial was good. There is a relaxing atmosphere, the service is attentive but not fussy and the tea is certainly drinkable.  So, again, it’s four little teapots out of a possible five.

imperial cafe

imperial menu

 staircase with franz josef

 


http://www.imperialvienna.com/en

A proper cup of tea at Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna


Palais Hansen Kempinski

What better thing to do on a spring afternoon than to search for a proper cup of tea on Vienna’s Ring.  For our first test, we chose Palais Hansen Kempinski, one of a dozen or so 5 star establishments on the Ring.

Tea and drinks are served in the lobby lounge which is furnished comfortably. I arrived with MadFrenchLady and the young competent staff welcomed us and were attentive without being overbearing.  We decided to wait for CraftyLinguist before ordering our tea and we used the waiting time to take in the menu and the surroundings.

Entrance to the lobby lounge

teatime

The tea

There is a reasonable selection of teas to choose from, but as this was my first visit I opted for a Darjeeling, and my friends were equally conservative in their choices.  The menu gives advice as to how long the leaves should stay in the tea.  Tea is served on a little tray with a small metal pot, which the waiter then fills with hot water at the table.  The tea leaves are in a conical metal strainer in the pot and a little dish is provided to put the strainer into when the “steeping time” is over.  I shall say more about “steeping” later. I am not convinced that this water is hot enough for a proper cup of tea, but at least it is not a glass of lukewarm liquid with some coloured dust in a bag on a string.  The cups are fine German porcelain and almost teacup shaped.  A small florentine biscuit was served with the tea.

teaMadFrenchLady had selected a cake from the display – called a Cremeschnitte, but reminiscent of the millefueilles of her home.  CraftyLinguist agreed to check out the Topfenstrudel with creme anglaise – she’s generous that way.  I am even fussier about cake than I am about tea, so I did not take any cake.  Both sweet selections passed the taste test and CraftyLinguist assured us that the strudel was freshly dusted because when she poured the creme anglaise over it, it rolled down without sticking to the top.

strudel

The service

The staff were young and attentive.  A few of them were German.  That’s not such a surprise since it is a German chain and I had read a few days earlier that they are proud of their apprentice scheme which allows the young trainees to travel and work in other hotels in other cities.

The ambience

It would not be Vienna without a chandelier or two.  As well as those in the entrance, Palais Hansen Kempinski has this tall and imposing chandelier style standard lamp in the middle of the lounge.  The furnishings were not 100% to my taste.  Some of the seating groups are satin covered, but I suppose that appeals to a certain part of their target market.

Chandelier style lamp

Other guests

It was reasonably quiet  in the lobby lounge that day, just a few tourists, some elderly Viennese gentlemen and a small group of business travellers.

The facilities

Being fussy, I like to inspect the facilities and my companions duly agreed to check my findings.  The room itself is very nicely furnished and it was clean.  We were all a bit surprised that we had to touch the beautiful taps to wash our hands.  CraftyLinguist prefers Dyson Blade hand drying.  However, I am fond of a pile of freshly laundered proper towels.  We were all ever so slightly upset by a lamp hanging squint.

the facilities

Guest reviewer comments….

 The translation

We are all able to manage the menus in the German original, but at the suggestion of CraftyLinguist, we decided to check the translated menu.  A non-German speaker would certainly be able to get the gist of what was on offer since the menu was in two languages.  However, we feared that it may have been translated by a machine, or by a school child with a dictionary.  The first term to give us trouble was “steeping time” since all teas had a recommended number of minutes.  Where I come from we steep badly stained clothes before washing and tea is “infused” or “brewed”, however some research revealed that it may well be that “steep” is the term used in US English.  What we definitely do not have in US or UK English is “leach rolls”  It took us some time to work out what this could be since the German original indicated  “Jourgebäck” which is a dainty form of the usual range of bread rolls.  “Leach rolls” being, presumably, the type which is soaked in a lye to give a crust of the type you would find on a German Breze.  So, we would recommend a revision by a competent native speaker so that the standard of translation is consistent with the overall high standard of the hotel.

Final recommendation

Watch out for the evaluation scheme in  future posts where I will try to assess the various aspects separately.  I did not note the prices, but our cup of tea was not prohibitively expensive.

For now, we can give Palais Hansen Kempinski 4 little teapots out of a possible 5.


http://www.kempinski.com/en/vienna/palais-hansen/welcome/