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 Pension Nossek is often booked up months in advance, and that's understandable. If you happen to know a nicer and more charming hotel, please let us know. The family run establishment is more than 100 years old, and it's clear to see: stucco ceilings, parquet floors and Vienna period furniture create a very special atmosphere. Prices are relatively favourable, which is surprising given its location. The Pension Nossek is located directly at the moat in the first district, from some rooms your can even see the posh shopping street. There are a colourful mix of guests, ranging from the university professor to the backpacker. Doubles start at 115 euros at night.
Minimalism and discreet luxury? Not here: In these apartments it's a virtue to show off, be it with nude statues, leopard fabrics and loads of cushioning. If you stay in Vienna for a longer period and don't like the atmosphere in hotels, the exclusive Niky apartments are your best bet. The service is just as perfect as in any hotel, and the catering comes directly from the gourmet restaurant Niky's Kuchelmasterei. Niky's staff are also happy to put together an exquisite wine selection for you. So relax with a good glass of wine in the whirlpool that is waiting in your marble bath. What do you think? A night in the suite costs about 247 euros.
SIGHTS in Vienna:
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.
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...
The Freihausviertel is not a sight that you'd find on page one of your guide. It's more a highlight for the advanced visitor to Vienna, who has ticked off Hofburg and Co. and now has time to enjoy. The programme: A stroll through what is probably most creative and hip neighbourhood of Vienna. Near the Naschmarkt you will find small shops, beautiful cafés and good restaurants, in the Schleifmühlgasse reigns contemporary art. A mild summer night visiting vernissages, sauntering from gallery to gallery with a glass of wine in your hand - it sure won't get any better than that.
EAT in Vienna:
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.
To turn an old wine tavern into a young, modern eatery you need nothing more than a young and modern cook. Ringsmuth has learned in the Steirereck, now he expresses himself in the admittedly more modest 10th district. The cuisine is down-to-earth. However, the classics Rindsgulasch (beef goulash), Wiener Schnitzel, Zwiebelrostbraten (onion beef roast), Backhendel (roasted chicken) are prepared with the extra pinch of creativity, which makes them even tastier. The lunch special is a particularly good deal: Soup and main dish can be had for a modest 5,90 euros. The combination of highest quality and super fair prices makes Ringsmuth unbeatable.
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.
SHOPPING in Vienna:
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.
The Yppenplatz is the heart of the trendy neighbourhood around the Brunnenmarkt. This is where Lisi Lang's showroom is located. Her true name is less well-known than her label Lila, whose product line is sold in many shops in Vienna. The Lila garments are most beautiful, however, when they keep to themselves: The small, bright shop is only opened on Saturdays, so one can purchase the entire collection at once. The package includes: Skirts, dresses, coats, shoes, lately even for men and children. As usual the cuts are astute and the clothes extremely comfortable.
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.