I'm more than a little conflicted about this review. I can honestly say I've never been reduced to the normal "pros and cons" format but I may have to bend the rules a bit this time. Having traveled to Vienna with some regularity over the past 30 years, I have stayed in a variety of hotels, mostly smaller and usually on or just outside the ring. I travel for business. This time I wanted to stay much closer to Stephenplatz and decided based on lots of feedback from fellow travelers that the Hotel Ambassador would be an excellent choice.
In general, my associates were correct. If you browse the more "middle of the road" reviews about this hotel on TripAdvisior, combine them with mine, I think you will have a pretty accurate idea of what the Ambassador has to offer.
Disclaimer: I am an American. Although I have spent most of my adult life living and working overseas, I do have the typical set of American expectations (and dare say prejudice) when it comes to comforts, service, smoking, and cleanliness. Oh one other thing, I love Vienna, one of my favorite places in the entire world. I am inclined to overlook a great deal when it comes to this city. Everyone needs to visit once in their lifetimes. This review covers my visit in December 2011.
PROS: Location, location, location. You won't be disappointed. It is right in the middle of the action, and really, I can't imagine a better location for the hotel. The only downside is because it is located directly on Karntner Strasse, if you need to have your windows open, and you stay in a room facing Karntner Strasse, all night long you will hear the laughing and sometimes screaming of the fun-loving crowds walking up and down the street below. This may keep you awake.
The Ambassador is beautiful old world charm to the max, the interior is full of marble, wallpaper, antiques, and beautiful chandlers. There is a wonderful bar area, and the rooms retain their ceiling-height and wooden floor charm. This Hotel is clean, I mean really clean! Every inch of this hotel looks like it has just been polished. This includes your room and especially your bathroom. Uber clean and comfortable. Heated bathroom floors in my room. Nice touch!! Very good bedroom and bathroom linens help add to the positive appeal. The hotel has even chosen to retain the traditional double chamber entrance to each bedroom. Main entrances are located on each side of the hotel, so if you are delivered by taxi, even though the Ambassador is on the walking street, the taxi can bring you and your luggage to right to the front (rear entrance) of the hotel. The maid service is simply outstanding. I would also have to say that although I was on business, the overall hotel rates seem to be a positive. The Ambassador could certainly charge more based on the city and their terrific location. The Wireless Internet access is both Excellent and ubiquitous. It's an open connection but it is VERY fast, friendly and FREE. It really gets the job done.
CONS: This is an old world hotel and not popular with the under 30 set. Most of the patrons are middle age or better and I didn't see any kinder while I was there. The Ambassador is HOT, temperature HOT, nursing home HOT. Now keep in mind this is Vienna, and in general I find Europeans only fear two things, electricity and fresh air. The average interior temperature of the common areas of this hotel easily exceeded the 90F degrees threshold.
To be fair, I will grant you that this is is normal for almost any indoor enclosed space in Vienna during the winter, but because the hotel bar is such an open and inviting space, the excessive heat really keeps your from even wanting to stop by for a single drink. Rooms too are very, very warm however this is easily controlled via your digital thermostat (nice!) and keeping your window cracked.
As noted before in this forum, the Hotel Ambassador has no steam room or sauna. I don't get this. The lack of such basic facilities doesn't really seem to fit all of the other good things this hotel has to offer. Perhaps the Ambassador feels it is splitting the difference by providing excessive heat in the common areas of the hotel (grin), I honestly don't know.
Unfortunately, one of the best things about traveling in this part of Europe is the sauna/steam/spa facilities of the nicer hotels. When you have just spent a very enjoyable and refreshing 2-3 hour walk around one of the World's great cities in the dead of winter, the though of a steam and shower are foremost on your mind. Was by far my biggest disappointment with my stay at the hotel.
I was worried about the lack of spa when I booked, but the hotel assured me that they have "an agreement" with a day spa "right next door" and that their patrons find this to work well. Sign me up Skippy! Let us put this alternate spa system to the test!!
I arrive late Friday night. I awake early Saturday morning and in Vienna that means shopping! I asked the front desk staff (more on them later) TWICE about booking sauna/steam time for Sunday, just to be sure as almost everything in Vienna is closed on Sundays. The Front Desk Staff assured me a Sunday booking would be no problem.
You get the rest……. Sunday arrives, I'm down in the lobby first thing in the morning to book a time for my sauna/steam, the place is technically "down the street" from the Ambassador, but apparently so is St.Petersburg. I want them to call and book before I make the trek to the spa. The helpful front desk staff assures me that I just need to turn up at the spa at anytime during the day, no reservation necessary.
Now, I am a veteran traveler....... At this point an alarm begins to sound and my mind moves from being curious/suspicious to paranoid. I insist that the front desk please call the spa to book a specific time. They finally call the spa and you guessed it......big surprise, the spa is closed on Sundays, not just this Sunday but EVERY Sunday. I must admit, they all (there were 3 of them) managed the required expression of surprise. Nice.
Bottom line... Could have gone on Saturday, but I am in town for the week on business and fun time is over. The remainder of my week is booked solid with business meetings and long dinners. Nice.
So the big sauna/steam room debacle aside, In my mind the Front Office staff is by far the weakest link in the Hotel Ambassador chain. There is a doorman of sorts, but he doesn't open the door (I am so serious!). There doesn't seem to be a doorman on the weekend. He wears the uniform, stands next to the door, but doesn't open the door, for anyone. He also does not seem help with luggage. The front desk staff can take your money and give you a key, but on all other issues, they are less helpful. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that they are "snooty" or "rude" they simply don't know and really don't feel any pressure to preform.. Fortunately this attitude DOES NOT exist above the first floor in the hotel, as I discovered the maids and other staff members appear to be at the top of their game. You even get a hello when they pass you in the hallway.
Room furniture, sadly another CON. There is literally no horizontal surface in your room that you could get your knees under and use to write a letter or type on your laptop. The hotel has made the switch to HDTV and mounted new HDTV's to the wall in your room (Nice!) but the old 6-foot tall (empty) cabinet now remains in your room. Mini-bar in the bottom but completely wasted space in a relatively small room. Even in the hotel common areas, if you could take the excessive heat out of the equation, they lack tables where one can simply sit and write or type. Sounds like a little issue, but in this day and age, you really need to have a desk of sorts in your room, or close by to use with your laptop.
So the Ambassador hotel is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle as they say. It's safe, secure, comfortable in your room and as close as you would ever want to be to the wonderful winding streets of Vienna. Unfortunately, such ornate surroundings in the middle of one of the World's great cities creates a set of expectations in the traveler's mind that and not quite met. Such a shame, this place has the raw materials in abundance, it's only about 15 points from greatness.
Now that I understand the level of self-reliance required when staying here, I would DEFINITELY stay again. Spa lovers should probably look elsewhere......
In December, had to sleep with window open to control the heat. Rooms on the Kartner Strasse side w...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC