Before planning my Vienna trip I did some research, and one of my most memorable discovery was about Am Hof. Some may wondering, “what is so fascinating about this place anyway?” To me, it is fascinating not only because of its rich history, its location (right in front of the former residence of the Duke of Austria during the mid-twelfth to early thirteenth century) with magnificent monuments in the neighborhood such as Kirche Am Hof, the beautiful Baroque church and the landmark in the middle of the square, Mariensäule, which was built by Emperor Ferndinard III to thank Mary for repelling the Swedish forces during the 30-years war. Yet, above all, the one thing that intrigues me the most is the spectacular property that is situated on the corner of the intersection between Am Hof and Bognergasse: a former bank headquarters which sits in Am Hof 2 and has now become a luxurious 5-star hotel, Park Hyatt Vienna.
I still remember when I read a book about this beautiful property months ago; the discreet transformation of the interior (as the premises was protected by the city under legislation as a historical monument) before it was damaged by an accidental blaze and eventually completed - opening its doors to the prestigious guests and elites as the grandiose and luxurious hotel we see today, with its Viennese elegance and splendor.
Visiting this magnificent place in person was one of my most exciting evenings when I finally arrived in Vienna: my heart started to beat fast as I walked across the Am Hof square, before passing through the revolving door of this spectacular hotel. It still feels surreal to me, and I clearly remember how breathtaking it was. Right before my eyes was the spacious and luxurious lobby, furnished with sumptuous and classic maplewood furniture, contrasting the ivory-color and copper-brown marble walls. After stopping to admire the high, Regency-style ceiling, I walked up the wide stairs, carpeted in a sumptuous dark chocolate brown colour with a rococo floral pattern. I then arrived at the main hall facing the destination of my evening – The Bank Brasserie & Bar.
Everything was meticulously furnished, thanks to the interior designer, FG Stijl, who was commissioned to design a new concept for the restaurant, which takes its prestigious guests to the core of the elite Viennese lifestyle. The flair from the Session (Art Nouveau) period is reflected in the architectural details inside the restaurant; think of the legendary Viennese architect, Otto Wagner, during the early 20th century, yet with a modern grandeur and sumptuousness, thanks to the ivory marble walls contrasting with the dark brown leather furniture. The classic Regency style harks back to the property’s history as a bank cashier hall, now transformed into a place for local and international elites to get together for either a delightful dinner or drinks. The luxurious lighting echoes the artistic details of the ceiling. The prominent reception table and the two spherical lights, made of floral-shaped glass, become the focal point as soon as one enters the restaurant, which makes the dining experience more prestigious and memorable.
I was escorted to my table by a sincere waitress. My table directly faced the grill section and the entire main hall. Again, the grandeur of the experience is just like in a fairytale: simply indescribable in words. After having a classic cocktail, the memorable gastronomic experience began. The new concept debuted in March this year, and the menu offers a wide range of delicate and sophisticated dishes catering to local and international patrons with brasseries classics like fresh oysters, king crabs, moules frites, Viennese escargots, smoked river trout and savoury tarte Tatin; those of you who are into either seafood or conventional Viennese cuisine can always find a great dish. If you are a big fan of cocktails, do not miss out on one of the bar’s signature cocktails, ’Tresor’, which is made with golden water, refined with saffron and served in a wooden vault-box; a perfect indulgence for a luxurious Viennese moment alongside flashbacks of bygone glory in this beautiful banking hall.
After being pampered by magical gastronomy and artistic indulgence, who could resist the charm of this pearl of Vienna and not fall under its magic spell?
Image courtesy of Park Hyatt Vienna