A historic luxury hotel in Vienna
ANECDOTES OF THE HOTEL BRISTOL VIENNA
The Hotel Bristol opened in 1892 - at a building on the other side of the block. But the hotel soon extended "to grow into" today's corner. Between 1916 and 1945, the Hotel Bristol was so large that it stretched the entire front of Kärntner Ring 1-7. During that time the hotel still boasted the Grill Room, a Titanic-style dining room. Neither the room nor the ship exists any longer. With its prominent address Kärntner Ring 1 today, the Hotel Bristol is the hotel next to the Vienna State Opera, with 150 rooms and suites.
The hotel was named after the British town Bristol. In Vienna it was disproved for the first time that the Bristol had been named after the fourth Earl of Bristol. The Earl lived some 100 years before the opening of Europe's Bristol Hotels (Rome 1870, Warsaw 1901, Oslo 1920, Paris 1925 and some 50 more), his emblem was totally different from that of the town in Suffolk which has nothing to do with the Earl.
Bristol's emblem depicts a castle and a ship. Bristol, after all, was the town from where many expeditions put out to sea. The original unicorns were displaced by lions in 1923. Later, in 1932 and 1975, the unicorns appeared again. Today, the emblem bears the lions once again. The motto Virtute et Industria, virtue and industriousness, can be read above our hotel's entrance door; it is, in fact, the same motto that decorates the emblem of the town Bristol in England.
The Hotel next to the State Opera
From a socio-demographic point of view, the Bristol's guest list includes a highly interesting mix of famous figures only to be found at a hotel of world class. In 1894, Russian composer and pianist Anton Rubinstein opened the guest book. But among the some 500 entries in the first guest book you also find illustrious names such as US President Theodore Roosevelt, crowned heads like the Spanish and English King, opera stars like Nellie Melba or Enrico Caruso, composers like Mascagni or George Gershwin, the major representatives of the European higher nobility and well-known personalities from the worlds of industry, art and politics. At the Bristol, the writer Felix Salten negotiated the contract that made his novel Bambi a world bestseller - and finally a Walt Disney movie. The list is endless and right now, while we talk about this, some new celebrities make their entries in the book.
The gathering place in Vienna
Former US President Theodore Roosevelt resided at the Hotel Bristol in Vienna´s city center in 1910. From the hotel he was driven to the audience with Emperor Francis Joseph I. At the Bristol he met the first woman awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize (1905), the resolute Bertha von Suttner. Six years before, she had visited him at the White House, where he told her about his mission to make peace between Japan and England. In 1906, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for that - as the first US American. But Roosevelt had ridiculed Suttner's peace organization in the press, which led to a lively debate between them.
President Sukarno, who came to Vienna for consulting famous physician Professor Fellinger, celebrated his birthday at the Hotel Bristol in 1963.
Who is Who of a past era
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) fled the Russian Revolution in 1918 to settle down in the United States. In 1926 he came to Vienna and lived at the Hotel Bristol in Vienna's city center. As ten years later he visited the hotel again, he must have been satisfied.
Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1998), a pianist from Russian Kiev, married Wanda Toscanini, the daughter of another regular at the Hotel Bristol, Arturo Toscanini. The two musicians and Richard Strauss entered their names in the guestbook on the same day.
Star tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) lived at the Hotel Bristol in 1907. He resided at a suite of four rooms in the "old" Hotel Bristol, the house Kärntner Ring 7. Although he was a singer of world-renown, critics judged his performance at the Vienna State Opera as rather disappointing. Truly Viennese patriots, they favored the Austrian tenor Leo Slezak.
Historica and outstanding features inside the Hotel Bristol
The grandfather clock next to the reception is an ancient antique of the hotel. Almost 10 feet high and made of mahogany, it boasts moon phases, a calendar and a circle of planets. Dating back to the mid-18th century, the clock displays Dutch inscriptions. The winged statue bearing an old man's beard lifts an hour glass up into the air - an allegory of time.
The oval lobby has the same style as the charming banquet salons on the mezzanine floor and the basement. It extends into one of the oldest American bars in Vienna - a popular urban oasis for Viennese and international clients alike.
The Mezzanine floor was a common architectonic feature of 1900 Vienna to bypass building regulations. Thus, there were only few floors on the paper but the height of the building was increased by intermediate floors such as basement, raised ground and mezzanine floor. That's how people avoided the constraints associated with additional floors.
The hotel's Mezzanine floor boasts the painting by Hans Stalzer (1910) symbolizing the turn-of-the-century upper-class society while having supper. It also shows the original owner Wolf and an illustrious party, among them Archduke Salvator, Baron and Baroness Bornemisza and other celebrities of the Austro-Hungarian Danube Monarchy.
Next to the charming elevator with a small seat, the staircase is a beautiful example for the time in between fin de siècle (turn of the century) and art deco. The dent in the brass railing between first and mezzanine floor apparently stems from a soldier's rifle-butt; after the Second World War the Hotel Bristol had been the US headquarters (the Hotel Imperial served as Russian headquarters instead).
From the 5th floor onwards the staircase is freely floating in an artistic way - it was transformed during the 1986 construction works in order to preserve the art nouveau mirrors.
In 1935, Edward VIII, Prince of Wales visited Vienna for the first time and lived at the Hotel Bristol. Every morning, a bellboy was instructed to bring him a carnation for his buttonhole.
Later, he came back as King of England and, following his wedding with the divorced American Wallis Simpson, he came as Duke of Windsor. An ad in the paper urged the Viennese to leave the couple alone.
The "Neue Freie Presse daily" wrote: "It is an absolute imperative to leave the Prince unmolested, to only treat him as distinctive foreigner, to absolutely refrain from staring at him or pursuing him!" But it could not be avoided that throngs of people queued up at a phone booth in front of the Hotel Bristol exactly at the time when the Duke's arrival was expected.
Discover the Prince of Wales Suite ›
King Ibn Saud
Did you know King Ibn Saud, who, at the time was treated in Professor Fellinger's clinic, was so impressed with the Hotel Bristol's interieurs that without further ado, had the clinic decorated with pieces of furniture from the hotel to brighten up the bleak hospital environment?