Over a 100 years old, this beautiful building had served as one of the Austrian capital’s grandest banks until, in 2008, when it closed. It has now emerged after a five-year conversion as a five-star hotel, with no expense spared inside its marble walls.

The Grand Salon that once was part of the boardroom and offices of the chairman of the bank. Not for use by architects, interior designers or other hotel suppliers without permission from Matthew Shaw
The Grand Salon that once was part of the boardroom and offices of the chairman of the bank.

The Art Nouveau cashier hall is now an elegant restaurant, the offices have been transformed into hi-tech guest rooms and the former bank’s underground vault could only become one thing: a gold-lined swimming pool. Looking onto the pool through the original armoured door—still with its huge antique locks— before tip-toeing into the water and standing on tiles shimmering with gold leaf, I couldn’t feel anything but grand.

The pool is one of Park Hyatt Vienna’s most nakedly upmarket attractions. And yet, this is not an ostentatious hotel. Luxury is imparted by matching the building’s period detail with stylish, low-key modernity. The interior has maintained many of the original designs of the bank, but careful artistic additions, inspired by early 20th-century jewellery, mean you don’t feel as if you are staying in the Innere Stadt branch of HSBC. The leather seats and dark wood of the whisky and cigar lounges are an intimate setting for a night cap, and the restaurant’s high ceilings and brass fittings give meals a classy setting. Breakfast here is by far one of the most elaborate you’ll find in Europe. And the dinner menu features Austria’s best artisanal produce personally handpicked by the Chef.

In the spare hours before my ride to the airport, I also decided to check out the Zen-like spa and tried a deep and relaxing back massage. I hadn’t reckoned on just how intensive it would be. “You need a medical massage,” the dexterous therapist advised, looking rather concerned. “I need another holiday,” I thought. The gold-lined pool with its original Vault door wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

I Lost my Luggage with Etihad Airways

I thought my trip was jinxed when Etihad and their partner airline Air Berlin decided to lose my luggage despite its priority tags. I had landed in Vienna on a cold January night with only the clothes that were on me. Being a weekend, the shops were closed, the airline had no answers, and a nearly non-existent customer service that excelled at playing hard-to-get. But in my first few minutes of walking into Park Hyatt Vienna, the annoyance and frustration melted away. The staff had intuitively put together a survival kit of essentials, told me to change into their cosy robes while the clothes that were on me would get laundered overnight. Over the next three days, I lived in two shirts and one pair of jeans and socks that were freshly laundered every night, and delivered at 6am every morning. They even generously offered several hundred Euros so I could shop for new things on Monday morning. Antonia Felgner, the communications manager of the hotel and their front desk staff called the elusive Air Berlin lost luggage centre at the airport every hour — all through the days. Antonia even called friends she knew who had suffered similar experiences and found that it was best to simply go to the airport and look for the luggage in some vast holding area. They sent a car to do so. The evening before I was to leave, the luggage finally arrived. In all these years, I’ve rarely seen a hotel go such distances to help a stranded guest.

—By Ruchira Bose, Editor, Travel+Leisure India and South Asia