MOURBY OF STAIRS
You can tell a lot about a hotel from its staircase. Some dominate the foyer as if attempting to emulate a palazzo or perhaps the Opera Garnier in Paris, a truly wonderful building that is essentially an elaborate flight of steps with an average-sized opera house at the top just to make the ascent worthwhile.
Others are more discreet. The Imperial Hotel in Vienna has its staircase some distance into this fine building and off to one side of a former courtyard, because when it was built as a palace in 1863. Duke Philipp of Württemberg intended to drive his horse and carriage into the palace, and alight at the bottom of the staircase from where he and his Ducchess could then ascend directly to the piano nobile*.
In the twentieth century staircases became less sumptuous and important as guests began to rely on that alarming innovation, the hotel lift. Very often today if you find the lift shaft you will also find the stairs rising up around it. That said, recently at La Mamounia in Marrakech (built 1923) I searched in vain for stairs. In the end Pierre Jochem, the general manager had to point them out to me. They were broad and gracious but set apart in a different section of the building almost as an afterthought.
For further information on the structure of this hotel read the history of the Imperial Hotel by Andreas Augustin.