SHOPPING in Vienna:
There's no better place for a design centre than the new hotel of a star architect. That happened in December 2010 in Vienna: after a two-year construction phase, the design centre stilwerk Vienna finally opened. With roughly 30 shops, the building becomes a hub for design. On four floors and around 6000 square metres, design enthusiasts find everything that got style: furniture, living accessories, gift articles, fabrics, consumer electronics, lamps and fashion. The new stilwerk Vienna can be found in building of the new Hotel Sofitel St. Stephan's Cathedral which - as one might assume - is not located next to Stephansplatz but the Danube canal. The hotel itself is a piece of design - projected by Pritzker prize winner Jean Nouvel with fantastic lighting installations by artists Pipilotti Rist. stilwerk, known for being a hub for (interior) design and lifestyle accessories with internationally known brands for more than 14 years, has opened its first branch outside Germany in Vienna - following the success in Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf.
If you love tableware you won't just spend one but many hours here. Designer Hedwig Rotter designs and produces dishes and accessories and manages to make each and every one of them something special. The shapes and colour combinations are unusual, the motifs creative and funny. By the way, some of the fine things that you find here can even pass for souvenirs from Austria: At the latest when you see a deer or a couple dressed in traditional costumes on the porcelain. In the Mano Design every piece is done by hand, and the great thing is that you can watch the master at her work in the adjoining studio.
They have become something like a plague: T-shirts with supposedly funny lines. The advantage with the shirts in the Gloom: These really happen to be quite funny and make for a great gift. More interesting are the individual pieces by national and international young designers such as UlliKo or the Piratin. On top of that you have tights from London. Unnecessary, you think? Super funky, we say. For the little ones there are romper suits, onesies and shirts with perky quips or adorable prints. The good news: Gloom even has its own online shop. The bad news: It doesn't offer all the treasures that you can find in the shop. So: Go and hunt.
EAT in Vienna:
Club Sunshine in the Meierei, Roxy in the Opernpassage, Babenberger Passage at the Volkstheater and the radio station 98.3 Superfly - the Viennese party crowd associate these names with Sunshine Enterprises. Now, also the Albertina Passage Dinner Club is on the agenda of the lifestyle label. Located in a former pedestrian subway at the Viennese State Opera, it hosts jazz shows on an own stage, and offers a cigar club, a smokers' bar and culinary creations by Alexander Kumptner, a former student of celebrity chef Reinhard Gerer. Inspired by Quentin Tarantino's Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Contest the architects at Söhne & Partner have created the low-keyed venue for up to 300 guests. These amuse themselves in intimate boxes, sipping cocktails like Persian Mule or Espresso Martini and indulging in raw wild salmon with black avocado and glazed snails with parsley sauce. After a live programme the DJ puts on tunes and provides the right mood for a night out that will last until the early morning hours. That's simply Sunshine Enterprises.
The legendary Café Landtmann is located directly at the ring road next to the Burgtheater. It's a Viennese tradition to go there after the show. When Franz Landtmann opened his café in 1873, it was the city's most spacious. It still is one of the most elegant, even if the elegance appears a little old-fashioned. Here all the Vienna clichés come true: The waiters condescend to serve with bow tie and verve, the coffee comes in 15 different names and the pastries make you drop on your knees. Three times a week (Monday, Tuesday and Sunday night) even the musical cliché holds true, with live piano music in the background. The wonderfully modern winter garden is new and makes for a nice contrast to the classic and somewhat stuffy part of the café. If you sit for a little bit longer until you get hungry, it doesn't matter so much: The cuisine is typically Viennese and much more than just a coffeehouse snack.
The Palmenhaus is such a nice place that it easily manages the balancing act between tourist trap and local hot spot. It's existed since the turn of the century, and a look at the glass-steel construction alone is worth the visit. Now parts of the building have been remodelled by the architect duo Eichinger-Knechtl and were modernized in the true sense of the word. The palm trees and the view over the enchanting Burggarten have remained. Try to find a spot on the terrace or at the Brunnenbar (at park level). You can spend wonderful summer nights there, tastefully set to music by Viennese DJs. Plus: Great cuisine, great cocktails.
SIGHTS in Vienna:
Amidst the Viennese Prater, we find a hidden club of a special kind: the Pratersauna. It's not a shady sauna club, but the in-club in Vienna. A few years ago, the Pratersauna was still a filthy and dubious underground sauna. Today, the club has replaced the Flex along the Danubian canal - which has been deemed the Viennese hotspot for a long time before. However, the Pratersauna is not only a club but also an artspace providing room for art, and even offers a pool landscape with garden. Brand new: the café-bistro with organic food and home-made smoothies. The swimming pool in the garden is a good bet for the summer months. In comparison to the public pools, it's never too crowded and pleasant lounge music provides for a relaxed atmosphere. If you badly want to, you can afterwards go to the famous Schweizerhaus, located on the opposite street, for a Budweiser beer and a pork knuckle. But that's a different story again...
It is the biggest museum of contemporary art in Central Europe. And Vienna's greatest. The MUMOK is always worth a visit, if only for its architecture. And inside it's just as impressive, since the curators can draw from an extensive collection and present interesting focal points. There are five levels with works by Pablo Picasso, Nam June Paik, Andy Warhol and Günter Brus, ranging from Pop Art to Photorealism and from Fluxus to New Realism. The collection on the Viennese Actionism is a must.
Those who live close by never move any more. And those who don't, come from all over the city to relax in one of the most beautiful parks in Vienna. In the Augarten every one finds a place. Even the two huge flak towers from World War II have been integrated and made themselves indispensable. The runners run around, the slackliners balance between the trees, while a few more senior park lovers meet for a Boccia game. The hits this summer are already taking shape: Advanced Frisbee and Viking Chess. If you don't know what that is just ask a park inhabitant, they tend to be rather communicative. After the whatever-it-is match you can return the favour with a beer, spritzer or icecream, which the Awawa-Beisel, also called Bunkerei, provides. And when it doesn't happen to be summer? Then the Bunkerei offers punches. And the Augarten itself is beautiful in every season. Tip for families: For the little ones there is a children's pool and countless playgrounds.
STAY in Vienna:
Vienna upgrades to a luxury hotel city. Park Hyatt, Kempinksi and Four Seasons are on their way, and already at the end of August the Ritz-Carlton Vienna has opened in prominent location on the Viennese Ringstraße. Originally the luxury chain Shangri-La planned a hotel at this very spot. But these plans dematerialised again and instead the federal capital got 202 luxurious rooms, a gourmet restaurant and the first Guerlain Spa in Austria - thanks to Ritz-Carlton. All this is located in four historical buildings under monumental protection from the 19th century. The original wall cladding and the ceiling frescoes therefore remained the same. The kitchen of the restaurant Dstrikt is run by celebrity chef Wini Brugger whose Indochine21 is located right across the street - how convenient! Also non-hotel guests can dine at the restaurant and reach restaurant and bar through a separate entrance. However, you need a special invitation for the Chef's Table which will jumble up the hotel kitchen with its eight seats. A big fuss has been made about the rooftop bar Atmosphere: the view over Vienna is only permitted until 9.30 pm - because of potential disturbances of the peace.
The Méridien is the youngest of the extravagant houses at the ring road. The lack of tradition is balanced with super modern design and fancy styling. The furnishing in the rooms is minimalist but tasteful, and at night the hotel bar Shambala turns into a happening club scene: DJs such as Rodney Hunter and Erdem Tunakan make you dance with an international crowd. If you are mildly hung over the next day you might want to visit the fitness area: One round in the pool or a relaxing steam bath will refresh tired spirits. A night in a double starts at about 180,- euros.
Having booked into the Imperial, you cannot climb any higher on the luxury scale: The magazine Condé Nast has twice voted it the world's best Hotel. It's the place of choice for the rich and powerful, and since it's foundation in 1863 it's a popular address for state visits. You won't believe it, but it can even get more decadent that a double in the Imperial. Take the biggest suite, for example, which measures 230 sqm. A personal butler is included in the dizzying price. This was to the taste of, among others, the tragically stellar King of Pop, Michael Jackson, who stayed here. The café is also open to all who don't need or want any butler. The melange (Austrian for cappuccino) is delicious, even if with a slightly luxurious aftertaste. The night in a double starts at 323 euros.