A seductive spa getaway at Grand Hotel River Park
Depending on what kind of guest you are, you can arrive here by car, limousine, the hotel-owned Rolls Royce or by chopper on their rooftop heliport. In a city that battles with high unemployment and soviet-age infrastructure, the Grand Hotel is a peaceful, well-oiled machine. From the courteous bellboys to the convivial spa staff, the place knows its mandate: make every guest feel welcome, relaxed and well taken care of.
We had booked a riverside Deluxe Suite, which is essentially two long rooms, fashioned into a living and bedroom. Every suite has a “dressing room”, which we adore because it keep us from spreading our suitcase out over the entire space. The rooms are cozy, bright with soft beds that beckon for cuddly evenings and marble-fitted bathrooms with bath and shower faucets that react to the push of a button. It’s hard not to feel pampered in these surroundings.
For longer stays, the slightly larger Danube Suites are worth the upgrade. They have a great layout, a terrace and really feel like a little studio apartment. For big spenders the Presidential Suite is a steal at €5,000 a night, with a spacious bathroom decked out in onyx marble. While all rooms have tubs, this Suite has an expansive hot tub next to a floor-to-ceiling window over the Danube. Many heads of state stay here as the room is often used for photo shoots, like that for the Miss Slovakia pageant. We were also told that a gentleman from Vienna comes to stay in the suite almost every week.
“Does he come alone?”
“No, not alone.” We didn’t ask for details.
Most people come here for the spa and that is for good reason. The five-year-old hotel takes it’s location very seriously and for those who haven’t heard, Slovakia is known for its organic skin creams and herbal treatments, which is one reason that Slovak women are categorically gorgeous. Their exclusive cosmetics line come from a regional producer who “uses grandma’s recipes” to create an intoxicating herbal concoction that is used in five of the spa’s many treatments. They range from a 120-minute “clear your mind” massage to specific treatments for tired eyes or heavy legs from flying. Guests favor the specials like the 4-hands full body massage. We wanted to try a contraption we’d never seen before: the “Alphasphere”. It’s a bed-like structure that glows from the inside, resonating music, heat and subtle vibrations aimed to “relieve stress, energize, promote creativity and increase productivity”, among a long list of other things. We tried it and while we can’t say we solved world hunger or cured cancer afterwards, we did feel revived and peaceful.
The pool area is divine. Since the spa is on the top floor, overlooking the Danube river speeding by, lounging in the soft cushions to read swimming in the pool, it feels like you’re on top of the world. The sauna and steam bath area are particularly spacious for a city hotel and in addition to the poolside hot tub, you’ll find a more private one here. The sauna customs vary slightly throughout central Europe and even though there are signs that say “no bathing suits allowed” many guests keep them on or wear sheets toga style in the hot rooms. Not the most hygienic choice, but go figure.
Wining and dining
The Grand Hotel boasts Bratislava’s largest wine cellar, with 350 bottles. Compared to the nearby city of Vienna, this is slim pickin’s, but the collection isn’t all about quantity. The sommelier travels to smaller “garage producers” across Europe to get select bottles for their recurring Wine Discovery evenings. The lesser known wines, going fro around €25 a bottle are housed along side entertaining eye catchers like Chateau Mirabell, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s vineyard, going for €49, or Austrian, French and Italian favorites.
For dinner we had a three-course menu, starting with red-beets paired with Slovak cream cheese and a beautifully presented beef tartar (it came inside a severed bone. The main course was a Danube trout, grilled to perfection and chicken breast with artichokes and mashed potatoes. We finished with a delectable cheesecake served with fruit and the traditional Slovak dessert of thick hand-made noodles with poppy seeds; this one was even topped with poppy seed ice cream. Slovak wines accompanied each course, from the Malik, Varieto and Palava vineyards respectively. We were pleasantly surprised at the high quality. Who knows, it could be an up and coming region in the years to come.
The upscale but easy attitude at Kempinski Hotel River Park gave us a divine weekend of decadence. From the laid-back spa to the Rolls-Royce service, it’s hard not to let it get to your head.
Grand Hotel River Park – Click here
Dvořákovo nábrežie 6
811 02 Bratislava
+421 2 3223 8222