Vienna City Guide: Where To Stay And What To See - The Gloss Magazine

Vienna City Guide: Where To Stay And What To See

Austrian writer Karl Kraus once said, “The streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt.” While this is true, the city is home to 23 vibrant districts each with different a vibe with so much to offer all tastes and enthusiasms. Here’s where to stay and what to see if planning a city break this year …

When someone mentions Vienna, what springs to mind? Possibly the city’s rich musical heritage – it’s been the home of Beethoven and Mozart and still has an impressive opera scene. Or maybe it’s the capital’s imperial heritage, reflected in its stunning Baroque and Gothic palaces and UNESCO status coffeehouse culture. Perhaps you’ve visited the city before and “done” the main sights – the Schonbrunn Palace, the Belvedere Museum, a must-visit for Gustav Klimt fans, or the Spanish Riding School, where equestrian enthusiasts can observe exquisite dressage performances and the training of its Lipizzaner horses.

Outside of these major attractions, however, there is so much more. Vienna comprises 23 districts, and the neighbourhoods within these districts are referred to by locals as Grätzel – each has its own distinct atmosphere and charm. For example, within the 2nd district is Vienna’s former red-light district, the Stuwerivetel, defined by its bohemian atmosphere, boutique hotels and quirky museums. The Vorgartenmarkt is the neighbourhood’s gastronomy hotspot, with a farmer’s market on Fridays and Saturdays and plenty of pavement cafés and restaurants. (Try Gasthaus Moslinger for traditional Austrian food). Adrenaline junkies should make a beeline for the famous Prater amusement park which has around 250 attractions including the Giant Ferris Wheel – the oldest working one in the world, which has been in operation since 1897. There’s also a Prater Museum which is worth a look, as is a visit to the Green Prater, a haven for walkers, runners and horse riders which is twice the size of New York’s Central Park. 

The 4th district, Freihausviertel is one of Vienna’s trendiest, with cool cafés, such as the Volpension which hires pensioners to bake cakes and serve visitors, helping to combat loneliness in the city’s older residents. Mozart’s Magic Flute premiered in Freihausviertel for the first time in 1791 at the Freihaus Theater. This year, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Orson Welles film noir, The Third Man, set in post-war Vienna, cinephiles should pencil in a visit to the Third Man Museum. With 13 rooms and more than 2,500 exhibits, this museum not only provides an extensive history of the making of the film but also gives a detailed overview of the occupation period in Vienna between 1945 and 1955. 

Known as “Little Paris”, the grätzel of Serveitenviertel is located within the city’s 9th district and is home to Vienna’s French school and the Liechenstein Garden Palace. This Baroque building used to house the Museum of Modern Art, but now holds parts of the art collection of the Liechtenstein dynasty, one of the largest and most important private collections in the world. The surrounding park also makes for the perfect pitstop on a sunny day.

For history and psychology fans, Vienna’s most famous address can be found in Servitenviertel; Berggasse 19, the home of neurologist Sigmund Freud for almost 50 years, and now the location of the Sigmund Freud Museum, which tells the story of how psychoanalysis was founded by Freud through hundreds of archival pieces.

As for my own favourite haunts in a city I’ve visited over a dozen times, foodie places include the Naschmarkt and Demel café and Do & Co Restaurant on the top floor of the eponymous hotel which serves up great views over St Stephen’s Cathedral. I’ve found Vienna a great place for shopping too and have followed former resident Aerin Lauder’s advice. She stocks up on Tyrolean sweaters and slippers from Loden Plankl and recommends Zum Schwarzen Kamel (The Black Camel) for Weiner Schnitzel.

Here’s where to stay in the city:

The Amauris Vienna

If you want to be central, the best place to stay is on the Ringstrasse where The Amauris opened recently. It takes its name from a species of butterfly that shimmers in black and white and is known for its elegance. The hotel, with its motto “Explore Beauty”, is luxurious with monochrome elements a feature of the interior design. There are 62 rooms and 17 suites and it’s a perfect base if you want to visit the State Opera and the Musikverein. Also a feature in the hotel is its art and cuisine (it’s part of the Relais & Chateaux association – a marker for service and exquisite dining experiences). Classic Viennese dishes are reinterpreted in a modern way in the hotel’s Glasswing restaurant, where original works of art from the private collection of the hotel’s owners provide plenty of atmosphere.

Grätzl Hotel 

Located in the city’s 4th district, this hotel’s ethos is based on its “easy urban living” concept. The hotel was created by converting empty ground floor shops into easily accessible suites. These are named The Lampmaker, The Tobacconist, The Gallerist, The Artist and The Buttonmaker. The names weren’t chosen at random, rather each suite was once a business or store in its former life. Each room comes with the use of two bikes – there are cycling paths all over the city – ideal for visiting the Belvedere Palace and gardens close by. There are no food and drink offerings onsite though there are plenty of options nearby for breakfast (Cafe Goldegg), lunch (Opencensky) and dinner (Aromat). These are budget-friendly options for more adventurous travellers.

O11 Boutique Hotel

The relatively new O11 Boutique Hotel is just a few steps from the Vienna State Opera, and a short stroll from the Hofburg Palace and the historic Burggarten. Each of the hotel’s 49 rooms is sleek in style with pendant lighting, marble and hardwood flooring. Of note is the President Suite, which is perfect for music lovers – the suite is fitted with a music sound system, including a DJ booth. In the basement of the hotel is Heidi – a club with chalet-inspired design features. For chic cocktails its Hannelore Bar & Living Room has a clubby atmosphere too.

Moxy Vienna City East 

In addition to Moxy Hotel at Vienna airport, Moxy Vienna City East opened last year. The hotel is located in Neu Marx, an urban development area in Vienna that is also home to the Marx Hall – a former cattle hall that is now an important event venue in the city. Vienna’s St Stephen’s Cathedral is also just five subway stops away from the Moxy Vienna City East (line U3).

Hotel Motto

Located in the fashionable 6th district, Hotel Motto is accessible to the Museums Quartier and the charming, cobblestone streets of Spittelberg. Like Vienna itself, Motto’s decor is a mash-up of glamour and fun with Parisian accents (including a chandelier from The Ritz, Paris), roll top baths and Art Nouveau mirrors. There’s also a spa and gym in addition to a bakery, Motto Brot, and restaurant Chez Bernard. Don’t leave without indulging in some Sachertorte or a glass of Gruner Veltliner wine.

Hotel Sans Souci 

The five-star boutique Hotel Sans Souci is just a stone’s throw from the Museums Quartier and the renowned Ringstrasse. It contains 63 rooms and suites designed by Philippe Starck, which combine contemporary style and elegance via the use of luxurious fabrics, furniture and fantastic art. Of course Starck has a sense of humour which is subtly displayed too he mixes eras and genres with sophistication. Also on offer is the hotel’s Veranda restaurant (order its signature wiener schnitzel) and a posh subterranean spa and wellness area with pool, sauna and fitness centre. As part of the Preferred Hotel group, a byword for quality and dreamy stays, Sans Souci is definitely one to book for special occasion visits to the city.


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