SIGHTS in Vienna:
The Naschmarkt is a paradise. For cooks, for gourmets, for idlers, people watchers and those too-cool-for-school. It's becoming increasingly difficult to get any real bargains, yet you can get just about anything for exotic cuisine. Herbs, fruits, fresh meat, fish, teas and sweets. The Naschmarkt really is the perfect spot for those with a sweet tooth. The Viennese come here not only to buy ingredients, but also for eating out in one of the many great, international restaurants. You really can't go wrong anywhere, and mostly you have to hunt for available spots anyway. Insiders like the Deli, the Neni and the recently remodelled Café Drechsler. Shopping tip: Near the metro station Kettenbrückengasse the prices come down a little.
In the Hofburg you not only find the office of the President Heinz Fischer and the National Library, but also something that seems to be of a magical attraction for the tourists: The Imperial Apartments. The Hofburg was the imperial residence of the Habsburg, it was the seat of government and administrative centre of the Empire as well as the winter residence of the imperial family (in the summer they lived in Schönbrunn). You will get an overview when you take part in the one-hour-long tour. During that hour you will also be led through the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments of Sisi and Franz. In the Schweizerhof, the oldest part of the Hofburg, the treasures of Habsburg dynasty can be admired, including the imperial Austrian crown, the royal treasure of the Holy Roman Empire with the imperial crown or the enchanting jewels of Habsburg empresses and princesses, i.e. parts of the original jewels of Empress Elisabeth.
EAT in Vienna:
Maybe even the furnishings are made of sugar? The delicacies in the display cabinets definitely are. They don't only look indescribable, but also taste like that, too. The place has a long tradition, having been chosen to be the k.u.k. Court bakery. The candied violets are a decadent relict from the past, and a unique specialty that you won't get anywhere else. The Anna Demel cake is also notorious, a piece of art made of chocolate and truffles. Tip: The extra charge for the tradition is included in the price. It's worth it for the sweet stuff, but not so much for the savoury snacks on offer.
The secret to success is an open one: In the Figlmüller the Schnitzels are always a little bigger, a little thinner and a little crunchier than elsewhere. No wonder, since the Schnitzel etiquette is considered to be a genuine piece of professional ethics: The meat must be from the saddle of the pig and is pounded to 34 cm. The coating has to be made with Kaisersemmel breadcrumbs only. After that the Schnitzel goes through 3 different frying pans that are all filled with oil heated to different temperatures, before it finally ends up on your plate. Bon appetite! Beware: There are several Figlmüllers in Vienna. You'll do best in the parent house at the Wollzeile.
The Karmelitermarkt is becoming increasingly more chic, and the pick of eateries, where one can sit down after the stroll through the market, is becoming more difficult. To the Schöne Perle, with the nicest waiters and the most modern home-style cooking? Or for Georgian flatbread to the Madiani? Far from it: The real connoisseurs drink their Marktachtel in the Marktachterl. The eatery was recently made over from a greasy stall into a cosy market restaurant, and with a keen sense and taste. Now the kitchen is managed by Josef Hohensinn, the former associate of Reinhard Gerer. The restaurant serves top class Vienna specialties. Tip: Try the white house wine, it's phenomenal.
STAY in Vienna:
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.
In the Trieste it might very well be possible that there are celebrities snoring next door: Robbie Williams is a regular, Kylie Minogue was here and even David Bowie checked in. They all love the style by the British designer Terence Conran. He gave the 300-year-old horse station, in which the elegant hotel is located, a complete makeover. In the Trieste the big city is just as far away as its guests wish. Rooms with their own terrace or green garden are ideal for entirely zoning out. The Silver Bar is also worth a visit - Robbie Williams had this jewel recreated in the backstage area during a concert in Vienna. Doubles start at 293 euros.
Luxury hotels represent a multitude of lifestyles and living spheres. One version is a modern, contemporary design paired with vintage. Another one is traditional luxury with precious materials and the flair of bygone times. That's what Kempinski in Moscow represents. And rightly so. After all, Kempinski, founded in 1897, is the oldest luxury hotel group in Europe. The Nikol'skaya welcomes its guests after six years of renovation in several buildings around the corner of Nikol'skaya Street and the Lubyanka square. In the style of the Belle Époque: opulently adorned with marble and dark oak wood, red velvet and beige wallpapers, golden décor and crystal chandeliers. Already in the lobby the hotel alludes to the times of ocean steamers, when people clad in pearls and fur sipped champagne from crystal flutes. But you can still do so - in the Kempinski lobby, lounging on art déco furniture under a colourful glass cone. That's good old luxury, redefined!
SHOPPING in Vienna:
In this case vintage doesn't mean that the stuff has been worn before, that it looks ragged or smells of moth balls. It rather feels like a please-touch museum of past fashion. The collection consists of selected pieces from the years between 1880 and 1980 - anything more recent than that you will look for in vain. The owners of the boutique have got such a good touch for beautiful things that the Flo has become world famous: Stella McCarney, Marc Jacobs and Kate Moss have been here to look for glamorous garments from the 1920s, New Look from the 1950s or whacky designer pieces from the 1980s. The shop also has traditional costume, headdresses and extravagant jewels.
It seems that it got a little tight in Nathalie Perstich's shop in the Schleifmühlgasse, between kitchen and cookbook collection. Thus she opened another one in the middle of the first district. Just as in the original Babette's, there are loads of cookbooks. But the exuberant selection of unusual spices from all over the world is new. There is reason to doubt that the Naschmarkt can compete with that: 70 spices are kept in the mysterious spice chest. They are offered in bulk, plain or mixed by hand into great concoctions. Would you like to have the luxury spice of all? Then you should try the legendary, because extremely rare Kampot Pepper from Cambodia. Hungry? Then wait for lunch. Soups, curries and savoury pastries are prepared with the spices on offer; maybe that will facilitate your choice a bit.
When cold, rains and storms make for challenging weather, there is nothing nicer than to slip into a piece of knitting art by designer Sibylle Bauer-Schmidt. In the tailor's workshop next to the shop you can buy the exceptional yet wearable. The skirts, jackets, coats and sweaters radiate from colourful elegance and tasteful creativity. The knitted fabrics, from which Sibylle Bauer-Schmidt produces her fashion, are produced exclusively for Sibylle Bauer-Schmidt. If you shop here you purchase a piece of her passion and a potential favourite.