STAY in Vienna:
Wombats: The Base
It doesn't get cheaper than this. Nevertheless, the Wombats was recently voted the cleanest hotel in the world. Those two characteristics make it the perfect place for people who don't intend to spend much time in their hotel anyway. The Base has had its base in the 15th district since 1999. Since its concept has been so successful, The Lounge followed in the Mariahilferstraße. In 2011, The Naschmarkt will be opened. The flair is typical of a well-kept, no-frills hostel: Friendly staff, sociable guests, simple rooms. Absolute highlight is the beautiful sun terrace. And if you can't stand a stranger snoring next to you, you don't have to. In the Wombats you can rent a double, where you don't even have to share the bath and toilet with your new friends. Doubles start at 50 euros, and a night in the dormitory at 12 euros.
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.
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.
EAT in Vienna:
It wasn't all that long ago that Christian Petz was one of the most decorated cooks in Austria. Actually, he took his leave of the starred cuisine. It should become something completely different, relaxed and detached from the gourmet turmoil. And that's exactly what it became: the restaurant Holy-Holy! in the Viennese Badeschiff. The awards followed him: two toques and 15 points at the Guide Gault Millau awarding surprised Petz and his crew. The concept of the Holy-Moly is laid-back: eating at a high standard, served by a casual service staff in jeans and t-shirts. The dishes are sometimes even served on a sheet plate. The graffitis on the wall fit the atmosphere. A corkage of 14 euro allows you to bring your own wine. The sun deck and the big pool of the Badeschiff haven't changed comparing to last year. New additions for summer 2011 however are the Urban beer garden, the Fest.Land.Bar with champagne and shrimp cocktails and the fish market. If you buy a fish, it can be grilled for five euro. Also new: the club restaurant in the stowage of the Badeschiff. You may smoke here. In this sense: smoke on the water!
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.
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.
SHOPPING in Vienna:
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.
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.
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.
SIGHTS in Vienna:
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.
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.
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...