No, we aren’t going to show you pictures of locations around the hotel that are photographed time and again…and again. Rooms, bar & co. You can have a look at them on our website. Frankly, it doesn’t particularly send us. We want to go where no one is allowed, at least not guests. We want to take a look at the hotel’s inner workings. Behind the design hotel’s façade that is a protected landmark. LE MERIDIEN with its 294 guest rooms at Opernring 13. The lowest corner and the highest. Like we said, behind the scenes
In the hotel’s lobby we meet Michael HÄNSCH from Dessau, a city located between Berlin and Leipzig. Famed as the “Bauhaus City”, Dessau is also known for its school of architecture. But Michael has long called Vienna his home and lives at LE MERIDIEN. He has worked here since the hotel opened in 2003. Since 2008 he has been its technical manager, its “girl Friday”. Anything that stops working, he fixes. And so he knows every nook and cranny of the hotel like the back of his hand.
We enter one of the utility rooms hidden away somewhere far below the ground floor. That it is these pipes and pumps that hold the hotel together is hard for the uninitiated to grasp and impressive at the same time.
The responsibility that rests on Hänsch’s shoulders is immediately apparent. A blackout affecting the entire hotel would obviously be rather more inconvenient, to put it mildly, than an electrical outage in one’s own home. The same applies to the internet connection. “Once the internet was out for two days”, Hänsch recalls, “reception, the offices…all the systems were down. The waiters had to tote up bills in their head and jot down their notes on slips of paper. For the staff it was, overall, two of the quietest days. No one had to deal with e-mails, it was just like the olden days”. But LE MERIDIEN carried on and continued to operate nevertheless. It has to.
We proceed on to the boiler room. A similar scene: water heaters, boilers, pipes large and small, and many more levers (for heating the pool, for example, or to provide the kitchen with hot water). All technical facilities are physically checked three times a day. They are also subject to constant electronic monitoring that automatically triggers an alarm—for example, should a v-belt in the ventilation system tear—and sends Michael Hänsch a text message whatever the time of day or night. Incidentally, peak showering times at the hotel are 8:00 in the morning and 7:00 in the evening.
We’ve seen enough and continue our trek to higher altitudes. Probably very few know that the façade of LE MERIDIEN and three staircases are listed landmarks. All the others are new.
But we want to ascend higher still. We know that the hotel has a terrace that is off-limits to guests. That’s because it can be reached only over a ladder and through a hatch. In fact the whole construction was never conceived to be used. On the way up we mind our step and hold on tight.
Once on top the view does not disappoint. Here we find ourselves where hardly anyone ventures. A sensation of freedom takes hold as we view the panorama of the city as it breathes and pulsates.
The hotel pulsates too. The pre-work party, “Wake Up & Dance“, and after office clubbing, as well as numerous anecdotes about stars make LE MERIDIEN Vienna unique. Actress and model Grace JONES stayed at a suite that looks out onto Schiller Park. One Jones fan who was in the know positioned himself in the park and began to sing Grace Jones songs. So long and loud in fact that he eventually succeeded in attracting the actress’ attention. What ensued was a duet crooned over a distance of seven floors
Honey-lovers are at the right address at LE MERIDIEN, and as long as we keep our distance and stay five meters from the bees we are safe. The honey they produce is packaged in small jars and can be purchased at the hotel.
Today Michael HÄNSCH is on duty until 6:00 o’clock in the morning. When these photos were taken it was about 9:15 pm, so he still had a long night ahead of him, but he’s used to that. It’s reassuring to know that even if something should go awry at LE MERIDIEN, guests are hardly likely to notice. That’s because there’s a Hänsch in the house.