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.
The name says it all: Sandra Haischberger truly produces the finest of the fine things out of porcelain in her studio. Delicate white is adorned with birds and insects, English lace patterns from the Tudor period are kissed back to life and fragile vases are waiting for flowers to be put in. On top of that many lamps, cups and bowls, everything made in extremely limited editions, and thus really something special. The surprise: Haischberger's art is still affordable.
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.
STAY in Vienna:
Sharon Stone, John Malkovich and similar bigwigs have spent the night here. No wonder: The Sacher continues to be one of the most elegant hotels in Vienna. Its namesake is the dark-black, world famous Sacher tort. Lady Anna Sacher, who took over the traditional house in 1880, is just as legendary as the cake. She knew how to enjoy herself, loved thick cigars, indulgent luxury and small dogs. The suites aren't exactly cheap, yet the hotel offers the best service, a lot of style and much space. The rooms are named after operas, singers or famous hotel guests. One night in the suite starts at about 395 euros.
The hotel has 25 rooms that are so cosy that you immediately feel at home. The rooms are tastefully furnished and situated around a living-room, where a minibar and a well-stocked library invite you to stay for a while. And if you don't want to leave the house at all, you'll never get bored. The hotel has its own cinema showing Austrian classics. Moreover, there is a spa to relax and a wonderful garden, which makes you forget that you are in the middle of a big city. Tipp: Just around the corner you find the star restaurant Hollmann Salon. A night in a double starts at 140 euros.
The idea is as good as its implementation: Design at a low price. The word design, which tends to be used in inflationary ways, means nothing but modern furnishing. But the hotel excels in it. It's obvious that you have to save some money somewhere with this concept, and in this case it's the location. You can reach the city centre relatively quickly by metro, but on foot or by bicycle the trip becomes a workout. The rooms aren't particularly spacious, but since there are more interesting things to do in Vienna than to hole up in the hotel room, this is not a big problem. And if it is, you can still stretch out in the bar, which is open to its guests 24 h. A night in a double starts at 69,- euros.
EAT in Vienna:
Matthias Euler-Rolle was the youngest radio host in Austria and grew to fame through the channel Ö3. Today he is programme director of the soul radio station Superfly.fm. And owner of a bar. At the end of November 2012 he opened his own bar called Puff in the Girardigasse in the sixth Viennese district. Everything happened quietly, almost secretly. It's a cool joint, used to be known under the name Girardi Club where easy girls welcomed their guests. Today this is different. The bar was designed by the Viennese Walking-Chair design studio and you sit under light objects made of PET bottles and sip cocktails that do not know frippery and affectations. The bar has the first Gimlet machine in the city which stands directly on the counter.
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 fine Flein is located in the magical garden of the French cultural institute and is certainly one of the most charming restaurants in the city. Somehow it feels as if you were sitting at your friends' place and that they just happen to be phenomenal cooks. The menu changes on a daily basis and most of the dishes have a French touch. Although it was mentioned in the Gault Millau, prices have remained quite fair: There is nothing that costs more than 20 euros, and the flavour experience is invaluable. The lunch menu, in particular, is a great value. Small tip: In the summer, don't get put off by the mosquitoes in the garden. You'll find mosquito deterrent in the bathrooms, on the house.
SIGHTS in Vienna:
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.
The Viennese aren't exactly famous for being fast and lively. Yet once a year half of Vienna is on its feet, in order to show that cosiness toughens you up. The Vienna City Marathon is the greatest running event in Austria and has been taking place since 1984 and on April 14th, 2013 it's time again! The course is particularly beautiful: There is a relatively relaxed start at the Wagramer Straße, from there the runners cross the city centre, along the Mariahilferstraße and finally on the ring road to the Heldenplatz (Heroes' Square). In case you are in a really good shape, you may admire the most beautiful corners of the city before becoming a hero. The spectators are almost as committed as the runners and contribute greatly to the event. Breathe deeply and run!
The Museum District is a cult for the Viennese: In the summer you sit on the Enzis (colourful open-air furniture to stretch out on), sip take-out drinks and listen to the DJs. In the winter it's time to take in culture in one of the museums or muse about which of the great restaurants or cafés to go to this time? Take in the street life: 60,000 sqm art and lifestyle are waiting for you! The architecture of the museums is phenomenal: The most modern buildings were combined gracefully with baroque originals. At the square you find the Vienna Art Gallery, which houses many events, the Museum of Modern Art and the Rudolf Leopold Collection. Beyond the three big ones near the square there are also several smaller cultural institutions that are even more exciting, such as the Austrian Museum of Architecture (www.azw.at) or the Tanzquartier (dance house - www.tqw.at). The little ones find cultural happiness in the Jungle Children's Theatre or the Children's Museum. If you are looking for unusual souvenirs, this is also the right place for you: Many small shops sell knickknacks for back home. Our tip. Sit down in one of the cafés and watch people!