Should A Few Instances Of Bad Service Spoil Overall Perceptions Of A Hotel?

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

As I mentioned previously, I just wrapped up a trip with one of my best friends, Matt. We planned the trip day-by-day, which meant we’ve been writing the trip report more or less live. Matt will be sharing his thoughts as we go along as well — here’s his seventh installment.

Greetings from the Lufthansa First Class Terminal.  Just so you all know, unlike Ben, I got a remote gate, and so was driven in an S-class Mercedes Benz.  The driver first brought me to the B gates, but then upon my request he took me to the FCT.  I’ll get a car transfer to my flight to LAX as well, so I’m batting 1.000!

IMG_7323 7
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt 

The point of this post, however, is the Park Hyatt Vienna — the last hotel on our trip throughout Europe (including an efficient stop-over in Dubai).  Ben has already dubbed the hotel “incredible” in two different posts.  The property was incredible, I won’t disagree with him there.  This is his blog after all.  And really, who the heck am I?  (Please, don’t answer that.)  Seriously though, the hotel was absolutely stunning.  It is unquestionably as gorgeous as the Park Hyatt properties I have visited in Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, and Buenos Aires — which are among the most visually delighting hotels I have had the pleasure of visiting.



Each of these hotels, and especially Sydney and Tokyo, offered amazing service on top of excellent hotel design.  I would not consider the service at the Park Hyatt Vienna to be incredible.  It was at best inconsistent.  There were highlights, which I will not undershadow, but at its lows (and there were many), the only thing that was incredible about it was just how bad the service was.  This is so, I think, even setting aside that it is meant to be the — or one of the — most upscale hotels in Vienna.

Let’s start from the very beginning.  We arrived around noon.  There was no bellman out front, but no bother, we wouldn’t have asked for help with bags anyway.  But there was no bellman to be seen, and Ben specifically noted this to me on the way in.  This is nitpicky, so I won’t even subtract points for it.  We were helped promptly by someone at the front desk who verified Ben’s credentials and asked us to accompany him to the suite we would be staying in to complete the check-in process.



This is a really nice touch, something they did at the Park Hyatt Tokyo when I stayed in a suite there in 2013, but did not do at the Park Hyatt Paris (though I was in a suite there).  I’ve never had this in a standard room.  Let’s act like this is a quiddich match — one point to PHV.  The employee checking us in also asked whether Ben wanted points or a food and beverage amenity.  Ben — classically — refused to decide and told me to pick something.  I asked what the employee recommended, and he suggested I look at the menu and pick something, including “sparkling wine.”  Can you imagine what that did to me???

Instead of jumping at the idea of something bubbly, though, I decided to test the hotel a little.  I told him to pick whatever he liked best.  He appeared actively nervous at the thought, but promised to come up with something we would like.  We returned back after a walk and a coffee to find not just a bottle of actual champagne (i.e., not Austrian sparkling), but also a pastry (which I think was cheesecake but who can be sure), and a large bowl of strawberries.  This was on top of a very generous fruit bowl that was already in the room.  Well done.  Another point to PHV.


All was looking good as we went down for breakfast, too.  The restaurant that serves breakfast at the hotel — The Bank — is arguably the most beautiful dining venue I have ever visited, at least of its general type.  The service the first morning was laughably bad.  Like Manchester security bad.

And this time their job wasn’t to be “bad” like in Manchester; quite the contrary, it was to be fabulous.  We ordered coffees when we were seated.  They came.  We went to the various buffet stations, and when we returned there were two more coffees.  Four total.  Why?  We didn’t order four coffees.  We ordered two.  If they accidentally sent out two, why on earth give us four?  This is a restaurant in a hotel with rack rates for basic rooms in excess of $500, and that charges 33 euros for breakfast.  It’s not ok to leave two extra, unordered coffees on the table.  This was just the beginning.

The check was also left no more than 5 minutes into our meal.  There’s time where that might be nice (an airport Doubletree, for example), but again, at a hotel of this calliber, I think it’s simply unacceptable to do that.  Especially in Europe where I generally have to plead with the server to get a check.  Further, our dishes were literally never cleared.  Why wouldn’t we both want to pile a bowl and plate on top of the four coffees we had on the table?!  Everything remained on the table until I finally suggested to the server that she take some of the dishes.

She didn’t do so immediately, but came back later.  Then when the egg white omelet with spinach I ordered arrived, there was no silverware, and no offer to provide me with some.  It’s not hard to look and see if a guest has silverware when dropping off food; is it?  After around five minutes of no assistance, I decide to take them from the table next to us.  I can honestly say, without even being the slightest bit hyperbolic, that I’ve had better service in short haul domestic economy.  Minus (at least) one for PHV.


So I should note that I am actually not a snob when it comes to service.  I rarely find anything to complain about when it comes to dining out in the U.S. or aboard.  And I get that this is a moderate size hotel; there are always bad employees that haven’t been weeded out, and everyone has bad days too.  I’d forgive even a massive fail like that breakfast.  But it continued.

We had drinks in the hotel later that evening.  Service was again abysmal.  My glass went empty and sat there for what was probably 20 minutes but felt like an hour.  The lounge was not particularly busy, and there was plenty of staff.  Again, unacceptable.  Minus another point for PHV.

I also found the housekeeping and maid service somewhat bizarre.  For example, initially when we checked in, there were bottles of water provided by the bed.  They provided water when servicing the room and at turn down, but never placed them by the bed again.  Yet they left water glasses by the bed.  Why?  Just odd.

In addition, I ironed a shirt and left the ironing board out.  I don’t think I’ve stayed anywhere, be it at a Westin, Sheraton, Hyatt Regency, etc., where housekeeping didn’t return the ironing board to its proper place.  I mean, the iron was unplugged.  To be fair, I should have put it up myself, but I did it just before turn down so I figured, per my usual experience, they’d handle it.  Nope.  And not the next day after the room was serviced.  It was there for 36 hours, through two turn down services.  Again, not a huge deal, but just not amazing or incredible or what I’d expect from this caliber of property.

Breakfast the next day was very well handled.  The server (someone different than the day before) was very attentive, and was at times even a step ahead of Ben and me.  To be fair, however, Ben Instagramed a picture of the restaurant the prior day, and the hotel “regrammed” it, thanking him.  It’s unclear to me whether they recognized that he is a travel blogger, and that’s why we were treated better, or that it was just an “on” day versus a miserably “off” day the prior morning.  I’ll say this is still a point for PHV.

Checkout was also a joke.  There was an Uber on the way, and we assumed it would be easy to check-out quickly and just have them email a folio.  Not so.  The bill came out and we noted that it had breakfast charges on it.  The front desk agent apologized, said as a Diamond guest that is included in our stay, and said he would remove it.  He then ran the card on file, and presented an invoice still listing one of the breakfast charges.  Seriously?  It says BREAKFAST (literally in capital letters).  I explained that the Uber was waiting, and Ben went out to explain to the driver we weren’t ditching him.  Meanwhile it took three people from the hotel to decide that they would need to refund the breakfast charge.  Umm!  That’s some really out-of-the-box thinking.

So the hotel was great, and there were a couple moments where the service was simply excellent.  There were also equally as many not so good and some terrible moments, however.  Should a few instances of bad service spoil overall perceptions of a hotel?  Maybe not.  I’m not sure.

But I will be honest and tell you that in my opinion it spoiled my overall perceptions.  The Park Hyatt Vienna is definitely not worthy to be placed alongside the Park Hyatt Tokyo, Sydney, or Buenos Aires.  Even the Park Hyatt Paris, which is a fabulous hotel — and an amazing use of points as the Paris luxury market that has few points options — but definitely not one that I would ever say has excellent service, provides a more on point experience than than Park Hyatt Vienna.

I’m not saying it’s a bad property, and I would absolutely return, but Ben’s the use of the term “incredible” gave me pause.  The building that houses the Park Hyatt Vienna is stunning, gorgeous, a visual ecstasy — all those terms.  But the Park Hyatt Vienna is not incredible because despite having been open a year it does not provide consistently good service, let alone incredible service.  I hope the hotel can get its act together — it has all the potential in the world.

  1. Park Hyatt Vienna is a relatively new hotel, so perhaps some of the service issues are due to the newness of the hotel and the staff’s not yet being up to speed.

    I think I would have asked to speak with the manager on duty and pointed out the shortcomings. Great hotels truly want to know when they do not measure up, so that they can analyze what went wrong and provide any needed training to staff.

  2. Lately i get sideways and upside down pics in reviews. People looking at me as im laying down and/or stand on my head to look at pics.

  3. I had similar issues with service on a trip last October. I would have hoped that they had them sorted out… Housekeeping was a really letdown…at least you got a nice diamond amenity; all I got was 6 mozart chocolates..


  4. I agree with David, I rarely book newly opened hotels, no matter how hotly anticipated they may be for a minimum of 6 months from the official opening, more often I wait almost a year unless there is a pressing need or overwhelmingly positive reviews.

  5. Sorry dude but you need to spend couple nights at a Motel 6 and then try the Park Hyatt Vienna again. I cam guarantee you will have a better impression after all.

  6. I agree. I would reserve “incredible” until you receive a satisfactory reply from the manager. However, I’d only be concerned about the hotel if both issues were frontdesk or restaurant. Since the problems were in two distinct areas of the hotel, there are too many variables to make a property-wide judgment.
    Did you tip the Uber driver for his extended wait? I hope you did.

  7. I think a lot of readers don’t understand the difference between 5 star and sub-5 star accommodations. The service expectations are completely different. While one should be a lot more tolerant of shortcomings at lesser hotels, one should not have to tolerate any shortcomings at a supposed 5 star establishment. Until readers grasp this concept, they won’t be able to comprehend the legitimacy of the gripes documented in these posts.

  8. My aim is not to be pedantic about grammar, however, I see this mistake so often among Americans, I have to wonder if this is not taught properly in school: “The server (someone different than the day before) was very attentive, and was at times even a step ahead of Ben and I.”

    ‘of’ is a preposition and requires an object pronoun (me, you, him/her/it, us, you, them) NOT a subject pronoun (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they). “….even a step ahead of Ben and me.”

    Great contributions to the blog, by the way ! 🙂

  9. I still think the SPG properties in Vienna are probably the best bets for the combination of old school glamour, great service, and connection to a global chain for points purposes. The Imperial is great for GWTW fabulousness, the lobby is insane, the breakfast buffet is still one of the best breakfast buffets I have ever had, and you can’t beat a crystal chandelier in every room. The Bristol is slightly less GWTW fabulous than the Imperial, but I kind of like the slightly less formal atmosphere and the renovated rooms (I have to imagine they have finished the renovations by now since the last time I stayed there a year ago) are GORGEOUS without being quite as over the top and Hapsburg/Marie Antoinette style as the Imperial, not to mention the location is ever so slightly better being right across from the Opera House. Service at both was still impeccable.

  10. @ Bill

    Exactly. Even if Ben and Matt are staying using points (and it really shouldn’t matter what currency they are using), the whole point of the posts are to review the hotels for people who might consider using their own points and/or money to stay there. If a hotel charges $500+ per night there shouldn’t be the service slip-ups that Matt described. Sure, at cheaper hotels, they wouldn’t be much of an issue, but the point is when you splurge to stay at a hotel like the Park Hyatt Vienna, part of the reason you are splurging is to get the level of service where those issues don’t happen.

    These reviews provide a useful service for many people, because while many of us like the fancy 5 star experience, we don’t NEED it. At the same time, on the occasions when we decide to splurge for a hotel like the Park Hyatt Vienna, we want to know that we are going to get what we paid for, otherwise we will stay some place cheaper where the same service “issues” might exist but we won’t be paying for them not to.

  11. We stayed at PHV last summer on points. When we got to the room, they sent someone to bring us chocolate and fruits in two separate plates. But the person left only the chocolate but not the fruits, which I found odd. Another thing that slightly annoys me is the stairs you have to walk before getting from lobby to the elevator, not so convenient if you handle your own luggage. We usually have carry on only so don’t bother to get bellman to do it, for this one you might need it. I haven’t stayed at many PHs but I definitely agree with you on the service is nowhere compare to PH Tokyo.

  12. None of that seems stay ruining to me, but not exactly a five star experience. This seems to be the knock so far. That the service has a ways to catch up to the facility.

  13. I stayed at the PH Vienna in May, on a paid rate with a suite upgrade, and found the service consistently underwhelming.

    Service was slow and sloppy throughout at all the hotel restaurants. This is a pity since the ‘bones’ of the hotel are fantastic.

    I had intended on providing feedback in my post-stay survey but never got around to it.

  14. Have tended to find in five star hotels that housekeeping don’t put the ironing board away about half the time, so not all that surprised that was your experience at the Park Hyatt Vienna.

  15. 5 out of the 12 most recent articles have started with a question mark.
    Should your readers come here to help answer questions?

  16. I agree with this post – stayed at the PHV last December and there were significant service issues in the restaurant, bar and at checkout there were a multitude of unexplained charges on the bill that I didn’t incur. The service issues in the bar/restaurant were so bad that my wife and I actually felt uncomfortable. Property is absolutely gorgeous but service needs to significantly improve – they’ve now been open for long enough that they are running out of excuses.

  17. I just came back from a 5 night stay at PH Vienna and the entire family had a wonderful experience.

    They helped set up 2 extra beds for the kids in our suite. They came to know their breakfast preferences so well that towards the end of our stay, they would have some of the ‘unusual’ requests prepared as soon as they saw us. Every time when we had a request, they showed up at the door within one minute. They let us keep the fantastic suite for the two nights using my wife’s Chase free nights. They gave the kids each a parting gift as we were leaving.

    The kids enjoyed the entire experience. We all did. It is a fabulous hotel. The building is fantastic. But it was service that made it great for us. The staffs were eager; they were earnest; and they were happy to have us there.

    One thing I didn’t do though was to ‘test’ them when asked about the choice between amenity and points. I simply went with points. Maybe I should start to pick up the habit?

  18. As far as the ironing board. I have stayed at the PH Paris and housekeeping did not put away the ironing board once in a 4 night stay. I wonder if thats their policy.

  19. Apparently quite a few people just leave their ironing boards lying around and, no doubt, getting in the way. Is it really all that bothersome to put away your own damn ironing board?

  20. While we’re nitpicking here: While it is certainly read as “a thousand,” the batting average of someone who gets a hit at every at bat is written as 1.000, not 1000 or 1,000.

  21. Thanks for the data points. I’m considering a stay here to use an upgrade cert before it expires, based on Ben’s review. So, this does give me pause (though I’ll probably end up checking it out anyway).

    I have to say, on the ironing board issue, I can easily see someone complaining that they “took out the board to use and damn it, housekeeping kept putting it away, and I had to keep getting it out EVERY TIME I wanted it.” So, I’m not taking off any points for that. Everything else–I’m with you 100%. (I really hate having piles of dishes left on my table, so I’d take off double for that. net/net, they’d have the same final score from me. Oh, wait, no–I take off points for no bellman. I had that same experience at the Philadelphia Ritz last year. Maybe bellmen are no longer part of the luxury hotel experience?)

  22. Ditto the friendly grammar comment.

    “The server (someone different than the day before) was very attentive, and was at times even a step ahead of Ben and I.”

    As I tell my pop, just test it by taking the first person in the sentence out of it.

    One could not therefore say, “The server … was at times even a step ahead of I.”

    As I often think while reading and listening, if people would only spend some of the extravagant money they use on travel, frivolity, wine, food, etc., instead on tutoring, classes, books, they would sound so much more “5 star” — no offense meant. I once saw a video of a girl asking her friend to take a picture of her and Paris Hilton’s mother. The girl told her friend to take it ” … of her and me.” Mamma Hilton, herself of extremely doubtful provenance, said in the most condescending way, “She and I!”

    Esse quam videri.

  23. where housekeeping didn’t return the ironing board to its proper place.

    I don’t like when they put it away. Especially since the process also involves them emptying the water and turning the iron temp all the way down.

    I can understand why they do it. But, if up to me, they would leave it out.

  24. I got more or less the same experience when I visited PH Paris last month. But the girl who works at the checkout was wonderful, so I think I should credit them one point.

  25. @Michael Yeppers. And if you are British(?), I’m surprised you didn’t call Matt out on his use of the dreaded “than”!

  26. Only seeing 1 bed in these photos and its a queen size. Im guessing suites dont come with twin beds.
    Would it be safe to assume this trip was related to Ben’s recent decision to move to LA? ; P

  27. While I love this blog, I’ve come to realize that hyperbole is not just always on the menu, but one of the best dishes served. So its no unusual that an “incredible” hotel is really marginal when looked at holistically. Thank you for normalizing standards, Matt.

  28. Matt, it sounds like these were more than just “a few” instances. What you are describing indicates that the overall service was horrible. As someone who stays at hotels as much time as I stay at home in year, I say yes, these experiences should reflect badly on hotels, especially ones that you pay top dollar on.

  29. @Sam – these blogs have provided useful information for me, so I guess you might need to start reading other blogs you think may be useful for you.

  30. Michael: Sure, I vs. we. Not hard.

    But then you should know, too, that “however” is an adverb, not a conjunction: you can’t just paste two clauses together with it; however, it works fine with a semicolon. That’s how you’re supposed to do it. Ditto with all the similar adverbs, e.g., moreover, furthermore, nevertheless and rather.

    Most of the stuff here is semi-literate. (It’s the content that keeps me reading, not the grammar.) If you start chasing after every mistake, you’ll just end up running yourself ragged without accomplishing anything. I mean, really, what if you start looking as stuff such as the proper use of gerunds? And what’s a gerund, anyway?

    As for me, yes, sure, I write in sentence fragments. For fun, just for you.

  31. Matt-please learn the difference between “Matt and I” and “Matt and me”.
    Seriously, it’s amazing how many English speakers,including “writers”, don’t grasp this simple rule of grammar.

  32. Having thought about it a bit, I think I do take back one thing I said. Not knowing the difference between I and me, subjective and objective, really is beyond ultra-basic. Really, English isn’t Latin or Russian or even German. It just doesn’t have that many words that decline, and those that do only have three cases (such as we, our & us; or I, my & me). If you can’t get that much right you should kill yourself . . . or at least pay attention to those little green underlines in Word, where you should compose first before posting.

  33. @Tom – he should kill himself because of a spelling mistake??? There is nothing more annoying than/then (who knows which one it is) someone who critiques spelling. Get lost, seriously, it is a travel blog, not an english (should english be capitalized?) essay.

    @ ABC & Al – I am not sure about you 2, but I have learned quite a bit from the comment section, as well as the actual content provided by Lucky and his team. So when he/they ask a question, it opens up a discussion for all of us to take part in and learn. Just my thoughts.

  34. Yikes. You really don’t know the difference between than and then? And you don’t know whether “English” should be capitalized?
    And you really thing that mixing up “him and me” with “him and I” is a spelling mistake?
    I’m embarrassed to be an American when my countrymen can’t grasp such fundamentals of our native language. No wonder we are often considered the village idiots of the world.

  35. Yikes. You really don’t know the difference between than and then? And you don’t know whether “English” should be capitalized?
    And you really thing that mixing up “Ben and me” with “Ben and I” is a spelling mistake?
    I’m embarrassed to be an American when my countrymen can’t grasp such fundamentals of our native language. No wonder we are often considered the village idiots of the world.

  36. Ouch! but I have to say I am not surprised. I staid there a couple months ago and, even though the service was not terrible, I always had the feeling that “I was on my own”. Being on my own is totally fine if you are not paying $500 a night, but when you do, I guess you are allowed to get some level of expectancy from behalf of the staff. I really wouldn’t blame entirely just the staff though. If this is happening regularly it looks like who ever is in charge of being in charge of the staff is there to blame.

    I will be flying back to Vienna later this year. I hope I will get a better experience this time.

  37. I stayed at this hotel in April this year and had the same inconsistent service.

    First, the hardware is amazing. But both the front desk and the restaurant could do with a lot of training.

    I was charged in my home currency (the classic DCC trick) qithout asking. When I asked why I was paying in Hong Kong dollars, the agent said it’s standard practice at the hotel. I refused to sign the bill and she said she would have to get a manager to fix it.

    The manager repeated the same story, but said he would be happy to change it “as a one-off exception” for me. I sure hope you checked your bill!

    I asked for directions from the concierge the night I arrived at the hotel. The concierge seemed a little miff that I was aasking him a question, and started his sentence with “as I explained to you yesterday…” I know all Asians look the same, but….

    Service at the restaurant was a joke. Plates were never cleared, and coffees took ages to arrive.

    Still, it’s a beautiful hotel and I don’t want to complain too much about it, but there really is a lot of room for improvement.

  38. Patrick, humor is experienced when one observes something humorous. Sadly you overestimate your own wittiness.

  39. How did the manager of the breakfast room react when you pointed out to them the service failings you experienced, in order that direct, timely and relevant feedback could be given?

    Oh. You didn’t.

  40. No bellman out front? That’s Vienna.

    We didn’t order four coffees. We ordered two. That’s Vienna.

    The check was also left no more than 5 minutes into our meal. That’s Vienna.

    Our dishes were literally never cleared. That’s Vienna.

    There was no silverware, and no offer to provide me with some. That’s Vienna.

    My glass went empty and sat there for what was probably 20 minutes but felt like an hour. That’s Vienna.

    The ironing was there for 36 hours, through two turn down services and never put up. That’s Vienna.

    Checkout was also a joke. That’s Vienna.

    He then ran the card on file, and presented an invoice *still* listing one of the breakfast charges.

    Yeah…That’s Vienna.

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