Review: Hotel Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt, Puch, Austria

‘High on a hill was a lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo’

If you want to explore the Salzberg district of Austria, why not also add a village experience where lush meadows meet stunning snow-capped Alps.

We spent a few days in the quaint village of Puch bei Hallein, using both train and bus to easily travel the 10 kilometres to and from Salzberg city.

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And, as part of the village experience, we stayed at the traditional Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt, a beautiful hotel complete with balconies and eye-catching flowerboxes.

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Here’s our ‘Age-Friendly’ rating of the Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt:

Q: Does The Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt have street appeal?

A: Does it ever! The hotel is centrally located in the small village – and it’s impossible to miss, with a traditional Bavarian look and a blur of colourful flowers on each balcony. The position is perfect for coach-travellers, as buses to and from Salzberg pass the building and the train station is only a short walk.

Q: How did check-in go?

A: Without a hitch. Reception staff at the Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt were friendly, spoke perfect English and were professional in appearance and manner. We were made to feel welcome.

Q: How about accessibility?

A: We arrived by train and were easily able to wheel our bags the short distance to the hotel entrance. There were no steps to the entrance and, once inside, there was a lift operating between all floors. The lifts had adequate space, the corridors were wide enough and the room keys were easy to use. There were free parking spaces at the front of the hotel. The hotel also offers an airport shuttle for an additional charge.

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Q: How was the room?

A: We had a room with a stunning mountain view and a nice balcony. It was lightly snowing on the mountains and the changing view was fascinating. The room was spacious, with a bed, ensuite bathroom, lounge, desk and ample wardrobe space. Everything was spotlessly clean and was serviced each morning.

There was also complimentary high speed wifi that worked well from our room.

Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: The bed was the two-mattresses-on-one-frame style expected in much of Europe, but the village is relatively peaceful and the hotel is soundproof, so we slept soundly.

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Q: Were other facilities adequate?

A: Although we didn’t use it, there was a flat-screen TV and a hairdryer.

The hotel also boasts a wellness centre, including a spa, steamroom, hot
tub, solarium and sauna.

Q: Did the room have adequate charging points?

A: The Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt room boasted plenty of charging points, capable of handling our seven electronic devices.

Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: There was a good-sized en-suite bathroom with a modern shower, fluffy towels daily and luxury toiletries.

Q: Did you get breakfast?

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A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. The breakfast room was easy to find and the range of tasty food included a standard buffet selection of cereals, fresh fruits, yoghurt, bacon and sausage meat, scrambled or hard boiled eggs, bread and tea/coffee.

Q: Were there any problems with the hotel?

A: No. The Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt provides comfortable accommodation at an attractive price with an endearing old world charm. The location – in a quiet village with awe-inspiring mountain views – makes this hotel an ideal base for visiting Salzberg and the many attractions of the area.

Age-Friendliness Rating

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9/10. From our experience, the Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt is accessible for people of all ages. The hotel is simple to find with both bus and train access. There are level, secure and free car parking areas.

In review, it’s a simple matter to use use the reception, rooms and facilities. The staff are particularly welcoming, friendly and go out of their way to be as helpful as possible.There are lifts to all floors and hotel corridors are large; the room door locks simple to use; our room was spacious; and the bathroom was accessible to all. The breakfast room was clearly marked and the floor was level throughout.

The Gasthof zum Kirchenwirt also boasts a quality restaurant and, while enjoying a tasty dinner, we were seranaded by a pianoaccordion player – a nice touch indeed.

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Age-friendly hotel ratings Austrian hotels

Review: Hotel Jelovica, Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled is gorgeous.

And this is how we rated one of Bled’s most prominent hotels – the Jelovica (now known as the Rikli)

Our review team visited Slovenia in September, as the forests donned their Autumn livery and snow tops on the Julian Alps were reflected in the mirror-like waters of the lake.

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The Jelovica/Rikli is superbly located only 100 metres from the water’s edge in Bled’s Old Town.

Here’s our full review and rating:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem free?

A: Yes. We used a few comparision websites to examine accommodation options and prices, then we booked online with booking.com. The process was straight-forward and easy.

Q: Did The Jelovica/Rikli communicate after the booking?

A: Yes, the hotel checked by email that everything was okay several weeks before our visit. This was appreciated.

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Q: Does The Jelovica/Rikli have street appeal?

A: Certainly. The hotel sits high above Lake Bled. It is a substantial building, with four levels of accommodation, a summer terrace and a bar. The position is perfect for coach-travellers, as the town’s terminal is almost adjacent to the hotel.

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Q: How did check-in go?

A: Without a hitch. Reception staff at the Jelovica/Rikli were friendly, spoke perfect English and were highly professional in their appearance and manner.

Q: How was accessibility, particularly for senior travellers.

A: We arrived by coach and were easily able to wheel our bags the short distance to the hotel entrance. There weren’t any steps. The foyer was large and modern – and the lifts were only a few feet away.

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The lifts had adequate space and the corridors were wide enough.

Q: How was the room?

A: We had a room with a lake view – and it was particularly spacious, with a king-sized bed, modern tiled bathroom, plenty of wardrobes, and a writing desk. Our room also featured a balcony with a clear view of the lake; Bled Castle; the skiing areas; and the Alps beyond.

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The room was spotlessly clean and was serviced each morning while we were at breakfast.

There was also complimentary high speed wifi and air conditioning.

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Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: Extremely. Although there are nightclubs in Lake Bled, the Jelovica/Rikli is located in a quiet and scenic area – and we slept soundly.

Q: Were other facilities adequate?

A: Although we didn’t use them, there was a flat-screen TV with a good selection of English-speaking channels and a safe. For a relatively humble weekly charge, we also hired a kettle and tea and coffee-making facilities.

The hotel also boasts an indoor swimming pool, a sunbathing terrace and a studio for beauty and health treatments.

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Q: Did the room have adequate charging points?

A: The Jelovica/Rikli room boasted plenty of charging points, easily capable of handling our seven electronic devices.

Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: There was a large en-suite bathroom with a modern, curved-screen shower, fluffy towels daily and luxury toiletries.

Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. The breakfast room waseasy to find and the range of tasty food was exceptional.

Q: Were there any problems with the hotel?

A: No. the Jevovica/Rikli provides comfortable accommodation at an attractive price in one of the world’s most beautiful locations.

Age-Friendliness Rating

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9/10. Booking the Hotel Jelovica/Rikli online is easy. Once there, the hotel is centrally located at Lake Bled, almost alongside the coach terminal (which has regular links to the railway station at Lesce Bled) and a gentle six minute walk from the waterside. There are level, secure and free car parking areas.

It’s a simple matter to use use the reception, rooms and facilities. There are few, if any steps; the lifts and hotel corridors are large; the room door locks simple to use; our room was spacious and the bathroom was accessible to all. The breakfast room was clearly marked and the floor was level throughout.

In our experience, the Hotel Jelovica/Rikli is suitable for visitors of any age.

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Age-friendly hotel ratings Slovenian hotels

Review: The Pan Hotel, Athens


The old real estate slogan “Location, location, location” attracted us to the Pan Hotel, in Athens.

We decided to review the Pan, after discovering that it was in one of the Greek capital’s most central locations, right in the heart of Athens.

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The hotel is only metres from Syntagma Square, with its famous Parliament building and colourful guards; on the fringe of the old Plaka and Monastiraki districts; and within easy walk of the Acropolis.

It is also close to museums, the central metro station of Syntagma Square, restaurants, coffee shops, archeological sites and ancient churches – and adjoins the high end shops and boutiques of famous Hermou Street.

We were in Athens reviewing the Scoot Airlines service between Australia and Greece – and a central location in Athens was particularly appealing.

Full review

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem-free?

A: Online booking of the Pan Hotel couldn’t have been easier. After comparing prices and location on several rating sites, we used the hotel’s own website to book.

Q: Did the Pan Hotel communicate after the process?

A: After we booked online, the hotel kept up an email conversation to see if it could help further with arrangements.

And, when we sought information about late night transport from the port of Piraeus, Pan Hotel staff were extremely helpful and efficient, communicated promptly – and arranged for a driver and car to meet our ferry.

The Pan Hotel is also active on social media.

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Q: Does the Pan Hotel have street appeal?

A: The hotel is in a busy street, but looks modern, clean and appealing from the street.

Q: How did check-in go?

A: Smoothly. The reception staff were professional and fast. We’d travelled from Santorini – and were exhausted. However, we were quickly shown to our room without hassles – just what we wanted.

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Foyer, Pan Hotel

Q: How was the room’s accessibly, particularly for seniors?

A: Good. We could reach our floor by lift. Hotels in Greece have a reputation for small lifts. This one was narrow, but more than adequate.

And, there were stairs if we wanted to use them.

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Lift and stairs, Pan Hotel

Q: Was the room big enough?

A: The room could not have been better. It was contemporary, spotlessly clean and large.

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Beds, Pan Hotel

There was also plenty of wardroom space; complimentary high speed wifi; and a large and well-equipped bathroom.

We had been given a balcony room with a nice view over the beating heart of Athens. The acropolis was obscured, but there was still plenty to see and we didn’t notice undue street noise.

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Balcony view, Pan Hotel

Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: It was particularly comfortable and we slept soundly.

Q: Did the room have adequate charging points?

A: We had seven electronic devices, including phones and camera equipment, but our Pan Hotel room catered for this with ease. As well as plenty of power points, there was one placed on either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks.

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Q: Were other facilities adequate.

A: Yes. Although we didn’t use them, there was a modern flat-screen TV and a minibar.

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Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: Certainly. There was a large, modern shower recess and a roomy vanity area. As with the rest of the Pan Hotel room, the bathroom was spotlessly clean and equipped with luxury toiletries.

Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. There was a well appointed and modern eatery – and the food – which included lots of Greek cuisine – couldn’t be faulted.

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Although there is no restaurant within the hotel, its central location places the Pan Hotel squarely in the centre of the city’s eat street.

Q: How was the hotel’s service?

A: All the Pan Hotel staff we encountered were friendly, efficient and particularly professional.. Nothing was too much trouble for the hotel – and staff certainly looked after us. Reception is particularly important in a hotel experience, as it is a guest’s first and last impression.

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Q:Was there anything you didn’t like about your stay?

A: Nothing. We decided to review the Pan Hotel after readers told us about its high standard and awesome central position.

They were right. We could not fault the Pan Hotel and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

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Sue on fashionable Hermou Street, Athens

The hotel’s central location kept down our costs for visiting the attractions of Athens and getting to our plane for departure. We simply wheeled our bags the few hundred metres to the metro station and caught a local train to the international airport.

Duration of visit: three nights

Address: The Pan Hotel can be found at 11 Mitropoleos Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece.

Our Age-friendly rating:

7/10. From our experience, the Pan Hotel caters well for all ages. The relatively narrow lift was adequate for our luggage; the lay-out was simple; the door entry was straight-forward; and the room was easy to negotiate.  The bathroom was no challenge and the central location of the hotel meant that it was easy for us to find and reach on foot.

Note: The writer was flown to Europe courtesy of Scoot Airlines

Age-friendly hotel ratings Athens hotels

Review: Hotel Aethrio, Santorini, Greece

The ‘first impression’ can be particularly important for a hotel.

Our reaction on arriving at Hotel Aethrio, on the Greek Island of Santorini, was an unrestrained “Wow”!

White stone fence, blue gate, white-and-grey cobblestones, blue window surrounds, white stone buildings, blue sun roof – and a sparkling blue swimming pool.

Now that’s what you call street appeal!

We couldn’t wait to enter the hotel, perched high on an escarpment amid the scenic beauty of Oia village.

And we weren’t disappointed! The warmth of the welcome we received was matched only by the Santorini sunshine.

Our host led us to a fully equipped, two storey cave apartment in a prime position overlooking the pool and sunset deck. A wonderful few days had started.

Here’s our full review of the Hotel Aethrio:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem-free?

A: Yes, online booking of Hotel Aethrio couldn’t have been easier. After comparing prices and location, we used the hotel’s website to book.

Q: Does the Hotel Aethrio have street appeal?

A: The hotel is off a narrow laneway, but Martin greeted us at the bus stop and carried our bags to our apartment. All we did was marvel at the beauty of the area and the hotel itself.


Q: Is the hotel close to facilities etc?

The Hotel Aethrio is within easy walking distance of the heart of Oia. As we had a fully equipped apartment, we walked to local bakeries and supermarkets to buy ingredients for our meals, coffee etc.

The location is less than one block from the bus terminal where coaches run regularly to the island ferry port, airport and the tourist shopping and restaurant hub of Fira.


Q: How did check-in go?

A: Smoothly. The reception staff were professional and fast – but thorough.

Q: How was the room’s accessibly for seniors?

A: Unfortunately, there are no lifts in a cave apartment. However, if you are able to cope with a moderate number of stairs, the atmosphere makes it all worthwhile. The curved cave roof and cool walls need to be experienced to  be fully understood We loved it all.



Q: Were the rooms big enough?

A: The rooms could not have been better. They were spotlessly clean and large. There was plenty of wardroom space, and the downstairs area had a stove, kettle, plates, cutlery, lounge and TV.


Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: It was comfortable and, as the cave apartment was completely insulated from traffic and other noise, we slept soundly

Q: Were there adequate charging points?

A: We had seven electronic devices, including phones and camera equipment, but our Hotel Aethrio apartment catered for this with ease. As well as plenty of power points, there was one either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks.


Q: Was there free wifi?

A: Yes. There were strong wifi signals in our apartment and in the pool area. Top marks for this.

Q: Were other facilities adequate.

A: Yes. Although we didn’t use it, the living room had a big screen TV  –  and the pool was beautiful.

Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: Certainly. There was a large shower recess and a roomy vanity area. As with the rest of the Hotel Aethrio apartment, the bathroom was spotlessly clean and equipped with luxury toiletries.

Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. There was a well appointed and modern eatery and the food couldn’t be faulted. It was first class.


The breakfast area, bar and, in fact, much of the main part of the hotel was a former sock factory that had been beautifully rebuilt for its current purpose.  There was plenty of space and some of the factory’s former machinery was on show, which gave an interesting touch to the room.


Q: How was the hotel’s service?

A: The Hotel Aethrio staff were friendly, efficient and particularly professional.

We were given valuable information on local bus routes and the best places to view the famous Santorini sunsets.

Nothing was too much trouble for the hotel – and staff certainly looked after us.


Q: Was there anything you didn’t like about your stay?

A: No. We decided to stay at Oia, rather than Fira township and review the Hotel Aethrio after readers mentioned its great location, facilities and service. They were right. This is a hotel that is doing everything right.

Duration of visit: three nights

Q: Would we return?

A:  Without hesitation.

Special mention: the hotel’s swimming pool and sun area is superbly presented and looks awesome.

Our Age-friendly rating

7/10:  From our experience, the Aethrio Hotel caters well for all ages. Our  shuttle was met by a hotel employee, who carried our luggage and helped us negotiate the narrow laneways of Oia.  The hotel itself had a simple layout;was close to bus transport and shops; and boasted easy-to-reach sunset decks and pool area. Our apartment had a number of stone steps inside, but these didn’t challenge our level of fitness.

 

 

Age-friendly hotel ratings Greece Santorini hotels

Review: Hotel Atrion, Heraklion, Crete

The Hotel Atrion got off to a good start during our Age-Friendly ratings at Heraklion, Crete.

After we booked online, the hotel kept up an email conversation to see if it could help further with arrangements.

And, when we asked for assistance arranging an airport pick-up, Hotel Atrion staff were extremely helpful and efficient, communicated promptly – and a driver and car was waiting for us at Heraklion airport.

Here’s the full review:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem-free?

A: Yes, online booking of Hotel Atrion couldn’t have been easier. After comparing prices and location, we used the hotel’s website to book.

Q: Does the Hotel Atrion have street appeal?

A: The hotel is in a narrow and busy street, but looks modern, clean and appealing from the street.


Q: Is the hotel close to facilities etc?

The Hotel Atrion is within easy walking distance of the vibrant heart of Herkalion, close to a number of good restaurants and less than one block from the city’s waterfront and old Venetian fortress. It is a perfect location if you don’t have transport, close to a main bus terminal and a short bus trip from the ferry port and international airport.

Q: How did check-in go?

A: Smoothly. The reception staff were professional and fast. We had been flying for much of the day and previous night – and were exhausted. However, we were quickly shown to our room without hassles – just what we wanted.


Q: How was the room’s accessibly for seniors?

A: Not bad. We could get most of the way by lift, but then there were a few steps – but not enough to be a problem with our bags. Hotels in Greece have a reputation for small lifts. This one was narrow, but adequate.

Q: Was the room big enough?

A: The room could not have been better. It was spotlessly clean and large, with ample room either side of the bed. There was plenty of wardroom space and a writing desk, which was put to good use.

Q: Was the bed comfortable?

A: It was particularly comfortable and as the room was free from traffic and other street noise, we slept soundly.


Q: Did the room have adequate charging points?

A: We had seven electronic devices, including phones and camera equipment, but our Hotel Atrion room catered for this with ease. As well as plenty of power points, there was one either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks. The Hotel Atrion certainly deserves full marks for this aspect.

Q: Were other facilities adequate.

A: Yes. Although we didn’t use them, the room had a big screen Tv and a minibar.

Q: Was the bathroom to the expected standard?

A: Certainly. There was a large shower recess with modern curved glass screening and a roomy vanity area. As with the rest of the Hotel Atrion room, the bathroom was spotlessly clean and equipped with luxury toiletries.


Q: Did you get breakfast?

A: Breakfast was included in the room rate. There was a well appointed and modern eatery – and the food – which included lots of Greek and Cretan cuisine – couldn’t be faulted. It was first class.

Q: How was the hotel’s service?

A: The Hotel Atrion staff were friendly, efficient and particularly professional. We didn’t have any complaints, but on two occasions we sought assistance with calling a taxi. This was arranged promptly and the taxi arrived within minutes. Nothing was too much trouble for the hotel – and staff certainly looked after us.

Q: Was there anything you didn’t like about your stay?

A: No. We decided to review the Hotel Atrion after readers told us about its great service. They were right. This is a hotel that is doing everything right.

We could not fault the Hotel Atrion and thoroughly enjoyed our stay

Duration of visit: three nights

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Our Age-friendliness Rating

7/10: From our experience, the Hotel Atrion caters well for all ages.  The hotel is easy to find in a street near the port; there are only a few steps from the footpath; and the hotel lay-out is simple. The lifts were sufficiently wide for us and our luggage. We had to walk up a few steps to reach our level after leaving the lift, but they were not steep – and did not prove a problem at all. The room entry was flawless.  Inside, the floor was level and the bathroom was easy to use.

Age-friendly hotel ratings Crete hotels

AccorHotels continues growth in luxury market

The prestigious Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel brands are now officially part of AccorHotels Group.

The acquisition of FRHI Hotels & Resorts, which was mooted early in 2016, boosts AccorHotels standing as a leading player in the global luxury accommodation market.

Newcomers to the management portfolio include the iconic Savoy in London; Raffles Singapore; Fairmont San Francisco; The Plaza New York City; Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec; and Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris.

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Raffles Singapore

AccorHotels said the move “increased long term growth potential and profitability” and “significantly expanded” the company’s footprint in North America, the world’s biggest and most influential consumer market.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sebastien Bazin, said the move lifted the AccorHotels international presence to unprecedented heights.

“We remain committed to providing guests with unparalleled service, while also keeping the ambition to deliver exceptional return on investment for our shareholders and hotel owners.

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“By leveraging the operational synergies between FRHI and AccorHotels, we are well-positioned to accelerate the growth of our luxury brands and offer guests even more exciting hotel choices and destinations to explore.”

Between them, Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel’s has 154 hotels and resorts (of which 40 are under development) across 34 countries and five continents.

They employ more than 45,000 people.

Accommodation European hotels

Review: Hotel de France, Vienna

Right in the heart of romantic Vienna on the Danube sits the truly memorable five-star Hotel de France.

Located on the famous Ringstrasse, one of the most striking boulevards in the world, the hotel offers a high standard of luxurious accommodation and facilities close to transport and sightseeing attractions.

With a history that stretches back to the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna, the Hotel de SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFrance is part of the Gerstner Imperial Hotels and Residences Group, known for providing high quality accommodation in iconic buildings and setting across Austria and the Czech Republic.

Grand foyer

The luxury and elegance of the Hotel de France is obvious the minute you arrive.

Visitors step into a grand foyer, bathed in warm light and exquisite furnishings.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And the first impressions continue throughout the hotel, which boasts 194 rooms and suites decorated in quality traditional and modern styles.

Efficient and warm welcome

On arrival for our stay, we were greeted warmly by reception staff, who booked us in quickly and efficiently.

Without asking, we were given a map of central Vienna; shown the location of major attractions; and given information about the nearby light rail, metro railway, shopping and banking districts.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESExcellent facilities

Our room contained all the luxury and facilities that you expect at a five-star hotel, wrapped in old world charm.

Bright, large and spacious yet insulated from street noise, the room was perfect for recharging the batteries after a long flight.

A superbly comfortable bed beckoned, preceded by a long soak in the bathtub, which was complete with snuggly bathrobes and slippers.

The room was also fitted with satellite TV and a tea/coffee-maker and there was free wifi and plenty of power points for recharging phones, an electric razor and our iPad.

Now that’s a breakfast!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One of the highlights of our visit to the Hotel de France was the high quality breakfast included in our room rate.

Rarely have I seen such a variety of food on offer at a buffet breakfast – including a huge range of fresh fruit and cheeses – and the friendly staff were on hand to top-up your coffee cup as often as required.

Location, location, location

The Hotel de France is well located to view the stunning city of Vienna.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Trams glide past the front of the hotel on the city’s efficient light rail network, while there is an underground station almost across the street.

Newcomers to Vienna often marvel at the city’s sparkling clean and modern rail system.

The stations almost shine; rail routes are colour-coded for ease of use and – like many European metro systems – there are remarkably sleek and steep escalators descending to the underground platforms.

 

A short stroll to sights

The Hotel de France is only a short walk to some of Vienna’s most striking buildings, including the city’s university which was inaugurated in 1884 and St Stephen’s Cathedral, widely regarded as Austria’s most eminent Gothic edifice.

An incredible sight in daylight, Stephansdom is lit by brightly-coloured spotlights at night, creating a rippling rainbow effect over the stone towers and walls.

A glass of wine and thee

After a day of sightseeing and dinner in one of the world’s most romantic and inspirational cities, there’s nothing more relaxing than sipping a good wine in the Hotel de France’s  Atrium Bar.

Also stylishly furnished with warm lighting, the bar features piano music and offers views of the glass-covered atrium.

Take a bow Hotel de France for providing classy and luxurious accommodation with more than a dash of traditional Viennese hospitality in one of the most memorable destinations on the planet.

Was the hotel difficult to reach?

No.  Vienna has a highly efficient public transport system and  the Hotel de France is on a major street in the centre of the city.

See how to get there.

Would I return?

Certainly.  I don’t see how anyone could become weary of Vienna – and the quality, professionalism and charm of the Hotel de France only adds to that experience.

Read more about the hotel and see how to make a reservation.

Exterior photo of hotel courtesy of Hotel de France

European hotels