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Baur au Lac Review
Austria's Empress Elisabeth was the first prominent figure to stay here, spending an entire summer with a retinue of 60 people. Richard Wagner arrived and premiered the first act of his Die Walküre here, accompanied on the piano by his father-in-law, Franz Liszt. Kings and queens, empresses and dukes took turns visiting (and let's not forget Arthur Rubinstein, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore, and Plácido Domingo), making this hotel a truly upper-crust establishment ever since it opened its doors in 1844. Today there is nary an empress in sight. This is still one highbrow patrician—it even goes so far as to turn its broad back to the commercial center; its front rooms overlook the lake, the canal, and the manicured lawns of its own private park. Le Hall, the vast lobby, has a Jugendstil flavor and is just the place to while away the late afternoon drinking cocktails. Upstairs, the signature classic room decor gleams with rich fabrics and Empire mirrors. Meals (including breakfast) are served in the glassed-in pavilion along the canal.
Exquisite Urban Residence
The choice of royalty and celebrities for 165 years, this leader in luxury accommodation still attracts the international upper crust with impeccable service and sumptuously modernized classical decor. Nestled in a private garden right across the street from the lake and bordered by a tranquil canal, this Grande Dame contender is a splendid villa in the middle of the city center—with restaurants and bars that attract the elegantly hip from all over the city and the world. Its highlight is the glassed-in pavilion in the park, which houses a magnificent palm court-style restaurant.
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