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.
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.
Fashion designer Kathi Macheiner is chiefly a graphic designer, no doubt about that. The prints on her creations are full of bizarre animals and crooked figures.The perfect street wear for happy surfer girls and every one else who wants to look like them. Sixxa is hip, since Sixxa is hip, since even comfortable clothes look great here. Shirts, underwear, cool hats, jackets and knee-high stockings. The dirndl is a particular gem: Only knee-long, but otherwise cut in the classic way. The key: Polka dots and apron with a skull.
SIGHTS in Vienna:
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.
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.
If you haven't been to the theatre in Vienna you've missed something. The most elegant is located at the ring road, directly opposite to the City Hall. The Burgtheater has a long tradition, yet it is known as one of the most modern stages in the German-speaking world. The repertoire includes international classics and contemporary works, much of it from the rich tradition of Austrian plays. On the small stage, the Kasino, it even gets a bit more zeitgeisty and progressive: Young, courageous directors and playwrights have a platform that is no less professional than Mother Burg. Although some in the theatre city like to pretend that theatre is a pleasure for high society only, it's not at all the case: The audience is a colourful mix, and an unofficial dress code is at place - if at all - in the boxes. Tip: Going to the cinema is probably more expensive than a visit to the Burgtheater, since one hour before the start the remaining tickets are sold for half the price. Works most of the time.
STAY in Vienna:
The beautiful Art Nouveau building has apartments that fulfil nearly every demand. You can get apartments starting at at a cosy 25 or up to a spacious 90 sqm, the latter providing enough room for up to seven people. Of course there is everything that you need in the kitchen and bath room, and the big apartments even have a washing machine and dishwasher. The apartments under the attic are particularly great. They are not cheap, but you have a direct view onto St. Stephen's Cathedral. Tip: For 5 euros a person you get breakfast room service. A night in the cute suite starts at 155 euros.
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.
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!
EAT in Vienna:
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.
Nothing fancy, not expensive, but cosy and popular: This is the perfect description of the restaurant of the two Lieserl'n. The menu is rich and varied: Wiener Schnitzel, Parisian, Serbian, unbreaded Schnitzel and Cordon Bleu, pork or turkey. We recommend the Wiener, which not only tastes wonderful but also comes along in an unbeatable size. After all, this is what the place is famous for. The Schnitzel size is just as legendary as the cosy Schanigarten in the patio as well as the perfect potato salad. Small tip: Normal eaters can easily order the children's portion.
In a way it is unnecessary to recommend this restaurant: When you see the little Biedermeier house at the Spittelberg, you won't want to go passed it anyhow. The restaurant is just as enchanting as it is simple; the only thing where one has over-egged the pudding is with the name. It serves Viennese cuisine, rather down-to-earth and simple yet tasty. The drinks are regional, too: Most wines and also the liquors are from Austria. We don't know whether or not Nestroy would come eat here. But you should, in any event!