In partnership with: Austria Tourism
Plan your next holiday to Vienna, Austria's crowning jewel
31 May 2019
Frequently cited as one of Europe's most livable cities with an enviable work-life balance, Vienna bridges eastern and western Europe with flair – it has long been the melting pot of the continent so it’s easy to feel at home, even as a visitor. Chopin, who frequently visited the city as a result of its musical importance, said of it: "Vienna is a handsome, lively city, and pleases me exceedingly." Handsome it sure is, in a manner not dissimilar to the grand boulevards and mansions of Haussmann's Paris.
A joy for flâneurs (an individual who strolls aimlessly and observes a city), much of Vienna's imperial legacy can be found, rather conveniently, within a 5.3km long ring road known as the Ringstraße. In December 1857, with the approval of Emperor Franz Joseph, the following was planned: a boulevard measuring 57 metres in width and five kilometres in length, to be lined with monumental public buildings, palaces and private apartment blocks together with squares and parks. The result was a game of one-upmanship, with industrialists and wealthy families commissioning grand buildings to tickle their egos.
Vienna State Opera House
Today, Vienna finds itself in a curious position. Gatekeeper to an illustrious past, but also incubator to a fledgling coffee scene and design-oriented restaurants, the city has an enviable lifestyle some can only dream of in Europe's more stressful cities. A typical day in the life of a Viennese runs at an altogether more leisurely pace – rush hour in Vienna is akin to Vivaldi's Winter; hectic but not without composure.
It wouldn't be uncommon to start your day with a morning coffee at the Wes Anderson-esque Café Prückel, then hop on the tram along the Ringstrasse boulevard, passing by the Imperial Palace, lunch at one of the cities beloved Beisln and perhaps ending the day on a high note at the one of the city's countless musical venues. As Karl Kraus said, "the streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt."
The Hundertwasser House
Where to Stay
Stay for: a slice of old school Vienna, served with a dollop of class and a trickle of pomp
Located opposite the Vienna State Opera, Hotel Sacher is something of an institution in Vienna with a quaint charm harking back to a bygone age. Having hosted Queen Elizabeth, Grace Kelly and John F. Kennedy in the past, the hotel famously denied service to guests of non-aristocratic descent in the period after World War I. This policy led to a change of management in the 30s and since then, is the only privately-owned, family-run hotel in the city. Housing another institution within its walls, those who have never been to Vienna will at least have tried a slice of Sachertorte, perhaps the most famous chocolate cake in the world. The original recipe, created by Franz Sacher in 1832, is only known to confectioners at the Hotel Sacher. The expertly trained concierge team are a living testament to the old-school chivalry seen on the silver screen.
Images courtesy of Hotel Sacher
Hotel Sacher, Wien Philharmoniker Straße 4, 1010 Vienna; rooms from €630; see more
Stay for: Art Deco glamour and unrivalled location beside the Opera House
Located right next to the Vienna State Opera and the grand Ringstraße boulevard, this art deco gem offers all the refinement, special access, and glamour you could wish for. Having gone through extensive renovation works, the hotel has been thoroughly modernised for the discerning traveller. Opened in 1892, the hotel still serves as a living example of Viennese charm and is famous for its personalised service and even offers a specialised service for those who wish to bring their pets along. Quaint and charming, Hotel Bristol is perfect for those who want an authentic stay in Vienna.
Images courtesy of Hotel Bristol
Hotel Bristol Vienna, Kärntner Ring 1, 1010 Vienna; rooms from €280, see more
Stay for: complete opulence, with the reliable familiarity of a Hyatt
Occupying a stately townhouse at the heart of Vienna's Am Hof square (the largest in the inner city), the hotel is the former HQ of the Bank of Austria. Inside, high-vaulted ceilings and swathes of space delicately balance period features and contemporary furniture – a design feature that has become something of a speciality of the Hyatt group. Highly polished Italian marble is simply everywhere. Veering outside the hotel, passing the liveried doormen, the designer boutiques of the Goldenes Quartier are as close to the centre as one can be. Head to the Café Central where Trotsky, Freud and the poet Peter Altenberg gathered. A particular highlight is the glossy Arany Spa, located in the former bank vault and lavishly decorated with mother-of-pearl, gold mosaic tiles, marble and onyx.
Images courtesy of Park Hyatt
Park Hyatt Vienna, Am Hof 2, 1010 Vienna; rooms from €450; see more
The Ritz Carlton
Stay for: Great location right next to Vienna City Park. It boasts the only luxury Club Lounge in Vienna, with handsome, contemporary interiors.
In a city known for its beauty and culture, The Ritz-Carlton Vienna stands apart for its elevated approach to both. Here guests will encounter contemporary amenities, farm-to-table dining and spa treatments utilizing organic ingredients within the four 19th-century palaces that the hotel now calls home. Located in downtown Vienna on the iconic Ringstrasse and adjacent to the Stadtpark, the luxury hotel features: a range of spacious and contemporary rooms to suit all tastes, The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge with seventh-floor views, daily culinary presentations and personalized service and a state-of-the-art fitness centre with an 18-meter indoor pool with underwater music.
Images courtesy of The Ritz Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton, Schubertring 5-7 1010 Vienna; rooms from €340; see more
Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna
Stay for: apfelstrudel in the opulent lounge-lobby; the wide range of restaurants and bars and quiet location.
Palais Hansen Kempinski is located in a central yet quiet part of Vienna, within walking distance of notable sights including the Burgtheater, St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Parliament building and Rathausplatz square. The heritage-listed Palais, which is named after one of its architects, Theophil Edvard Hansen (mastermind behind Parliament and the ancient Stock Building, among others), dates back to the late 1800s when it opened for the World Exhibition in 1873. Today, it forms part of Europe's oldest luxury hotel group: Kempinski. Enjoy a meal in the Michelin-starred Edvard restaurant or head to its younger sibling Die Küche, which has a glass atrium and striking vertical garden. The hotel is the perfect example of how history and modernity can coincide quite gracefully, much like the very city itself.
Images courtesy of Palais Hansen Kempinski
Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, Schottenring 24, 1010 Vienna; rooms from €355; see more
Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere
Stay for: if you like your hotels split-new, Andaz Vienna opened in April 2019 and features a rooftop bar and holistic spa
Those who prefer to stay in a more modern hotel, look no further than Andaz Vienna. Calling itself an 'upscale design and lifestyle hotel', the dynamic side of the city is revealed through the sky-high rooms of the glass-clad building (part-designed by Renzo Piano), which is located right next to Vienna's Modern Art Museum. The hotel is comprised of two separate buildings connected by interwoven bridges, sharing a spacious lobby lounge on the ground floor. Integrating exquisite design and art, Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere immerses guests in the history and allure of Vienna. Choose between a selection of suites or rooms, and enjoy access to numerous amenities including a 24-hour fitness centre, cosseting spa and chic rooftop bar, with impressive views overlooking Vienna.
Images courtesy of Andaz Vienna
Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere, Arsenalstraße 10, 1100 Vienna; rooms from €250 see more
Hotel Das Triest
Stay for: if you have an aesthete's eye for detail and appreciate minimalism
The original design hotel of Vienna opened its doors to the public back in 1995. With an interior reworked by Sir Terence Conran combining imperial elegance and modern sober lines, the hotel forms part of the Design Hotels group as a result of its unique aesthetic DNA. Cross-vaulted rooms give the building a distinctive flair, harkening back to its history as a coach station whilst interiors are tastefully decorated with furnishings from B&B Italia, Casa Milano and Conran himself. Located away from the moneyed, classical atmosphere of the city centre, Wieden has plenty to offer from the contemporary Viennese scene. Take for example the bohemian enclave around Operngasse where you can find everything from vintage wear to 1950s furniture. Then there’s the area’s celebrated Naschmarkt, a 400-year-old market running 1.5 kilometers and offering everything from specialist teas, Alpine cheese to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern delicacies.
Images courtesy of Hotel Das Triest
Hotel Das Triest, Wiedner Hauptstraße 12, 1040 Vienna; from €154; see more
Hotel Altstadt Vienna
Stay for: thoughtful hospitality, in a uniquely designed hotel. Well placed in revitalised Spittelberg art district.
More of a temple to contemporary design than a hotel, the Altstadt Vienna is situated in a carefully restored 19th-century patrician’s house. A meeting place for lovers of art and a haven for travellers seeking a hotel with character, all 59 rooms and suites are individually designed, many by renowned designers such as Matteo Thun, Lena Hoschek, Gregor Eichinger, Lilli Hollein, and Andi Lackner. A passionate art collector, owner Otto Wiesenthal opened a hotel decorated with artworks chosen by himself, his daughters and his employees. Name another hotel you know that can boast about that?
Images courtesy of Hotel Altstadt
Hotel Altstadt Vienna, Kirchengasse 41, 1070 Vienna; from €164; see more