The Hotel Imperial Vienna is among the city’s most famous historical hotels. The afternoon tea is served on Saturdays from October to April, which makes quite easy to miss (not that you should!). Let’s see why you ought to go:
The Setting ★★★★★
The Imperial Vienna sits on the Kärntner Ring, right behind the Muskiverein which is the home of the Vienna Philharmonic. The location doesn’t get much better than this, as you are just a stroll away from 80% of the city’s main attractions (Karlskirche, Stadtoper, Hofburg Palace…).
This neo-classical building was one of the many Palais lining up the Ringstrasse as part of Prince von Württemberg’s grand construction projects. The palace opened up in 1863 and was converted into a luxury hotel 10 years later. It has always been at the forefront of Viennese society, mainly from a cultural and musical standpoint. World-renowned musicians such as Brahms, Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner were all regular guests of the hotel as they were basically a minute away from their place of business. It served as the post-World-War 2 headquarters of the Russian administration for 10 years until it reopened as a luxury hotel, hosting heads of state (the Queen of England), celebrities and classical music stars.
The interior has been recently refurbished but it retains the feeling of a Viennese Palais. I strongly encourage you to take a stroll around the hotel or at least admire the pictures below:
The Imperial Hotel HalleNsalon ★★★★★
Afternoon tea is served in the HalleNsalon, on the hotel’s ground floor. The mirror laden high ceiling and the chandeliers give out a feeling of largesse, nothing less to be expected from an “Imperial” hotel 😉
I’ll say it straight away: the best part of this afternoon tea is the harpist. She’s a true virtuoso who brings a touch of musical magic to the lobby lounge. I encourage you to sit close to her to enjoy her beautiful concerto.
Live music: Harp & Piano
The Hotel Imperial Vienna Afternoon Tea
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
There are 12 teas and infusions on offer from the Delher tea company. The selection is decent but quite limited: there are no white, oolong or pu-erh teas to choose from. There are three recommended teas: The Imperial black tea blend, the China Sencha Green tea ♥ and the Rooibos Natural.
The tea is loose-leaf but put in bags so you can regulate the brew, which is very much necessary as the teapots are quite small. You will have to set a timer on your phone as there are no hourglasses brought along with the tea.
12 loose-leaf teas & infusions from the Delher tea company (black, green and infusions)
Brewing method: teapot brought to the table with loose-leaved placed in a removable tea bag
6.8€ per extra teapot
The Savouries ★★★☆☆
The Imperial high tea starts with three run-of-the-mill sandwiches.
- Cucumber & watercress mayonnaise
- Salmon & dill mustard ♥
- Cheddar (brown bread)
- Egg & chervil
These sandwiches are exactly how you’d expect from a traditional British afternoon tea: tasty but not memorable either. The cheese sandwich didn’t even taste of cheese as the strong flavour of the brown bread completely overlapped the cheddar.
The Scones ★★★★☆
The Plain and Raisin Scones’ texture is actually closer to a brioche. This is quite a common occurrence and not a problem in my book, but some purists may get annoyed by this.
They are served with four jams (Orange marmalade, Griotte amarena cherry jam ♥, Apricot jam ♥ and Blueberry jam) and clotted cream.
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★☆
The afternoon tea cakes ★★★★☆
The Imperial Vienna high tea cakes are very pretty to look at:
- Chocolate & raspberry cake topped with a white chocolate clock ♥
- Esterhazyschnitte vanilla & almond cake ♥
- Macaron (caramel or pistachio)
- Fruit Tart
The chocolate cake and the Esterhazyschnitte are the tastiest of the lot, while the fruit tart and the macaron are quite ordinary.
The à-la-carte cakes ★★★★☆
The Café Impérial offers several cakes and pastries but it is mostly famed for its “Imperial Torte”. There are three flavours to choose from:
- No 1: nature/original (milk chocolate) ♥♥
- No 2: orange
- No 3: raspberry (dark chocolate)
You may order a slice of Imperial Torte with your afternoon tea for 7.5€ a piece. I highly recommend doing so: it put the Sacher torte to shame!
You can also bring some home if you’re on the lookout for a fancy treat/gift.
Service is courteous and efficient. We arrived at a busy hour but our table was ready immediately regardless. I would’ve wished for a more organised welcome with perhaps someone offering to take our coats, as is customary in a hotel of this calibre.
Below is a video detailing the contents of the afternoon tea and a video of the wonderful harpist:
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★
The Hotel Imperial Vienna afternoon tea is served in one of the most gorgeous salons I have ever seen and the harp player makes the atmosphere even better. At 32€/person, it’s also among the most affordable afternoon teas in the city along with the InterContinental Vienna.
Unfortunately, it is only served on Saturdays until April 30th (it will resume in October) so you’d better hurry up if you want to enjoy a semi-private harp concert and try that wonderful Imperial Torte.
+: The HasseNsalon’s atmosphere
+: Wonderful harpist
+: The Cakes & Sweets
+: The Imperial Tortes
+: Affordable afternoon tea
-: Average tea selection
-: Run-of-the-mill savouries
-: Served on Saturdays only
-: Seasonal (October to April)
Phone: +43 01 501100
Address: Kärntner Ring 16, 1015 Wien