The structural and dynamical properties of water are known to be affected by ion solvation. However, a consistent molecular picture that describes how and to what extent ions perturb the water structure is still missing. Here we apply 2D Raman–terahertz spectroscopy to investigate the impact of monatomic cations on the relaxation dynamics of the hydrogen-bond network in aqueous salt solutions. The inherent ability of multidimensional spectroscopy to deconvolute heterogeneous relaxation dynamics is used to reveal the correlation between the inhomogeneity of the collective intermolecular hydrogen-bond modes and the viscosity of a salt solution. Specifically, we demonstrate that the relaxation time along the echo direction t1 = t2 correlates with the capability of a given cation to ‘structure’ water. Moreover, we provide evidence that the echo originates from the water–water modes, and not the water–cation modes, which implies that cations can structure the hydrogen-bond network to a certain extent.