Oh oh oh! I recently stayed in one of the most charming and artistic cities in Europe and simply must tell you all about it. Invited by the gorgeous Altstadt Vienna hotel, I flew direct from Hannover to beautiful VIENNA for the first time in my life and the moment I arrived I felt instantly transported to a place that was both modern and very old-fashioned – a glorious city with so much artistic spirit and life. I was in love.
See this grand building? I took this photo when my cab arrived to the Altstadt Vienna where I spent 3 days completely in heaven. This hotel is special because it evokes the same spirit of the city throughout their 61 rooms and suites which were decorated by a different person from fashion designers, to artists, interior designers and architects – all are unique and no two rooms are alike. Each room and suite had a very special flair and, lucky for me, I was able to visit several of them with the hotel owner where I learned more about the style of each along with the history of the building.
Built in 1902 in the “Ringstrasse Style”, the building became a hotel in 1991 because of one man and his vision to create a hotel that felt like, “a home away from home”. Otto E. Wiesenthal (shown left) is the visionary behind this stunning gem of a hotel.
After spending years traveling for business, he decided to open a hotel of his own because he knew from traveling exactly what was missing in the various places he stayed along with what worked so he turned his experience as a traveler into a luxury hotel concept and Altstadt Vienna was born.
I have to also add that Mr. Wiesenthal spent a day with me to not only show me his hotel, but his city!
We ate wurst in the sunshine near the Palm House (Palmenhaus Schönbrunn) and drove around in his sporty car, as he stopped a million times to let me go exploring with my camera while he waited for me. He is so passionate about Vienna and his life, family and hotel. It was a fantastic time to be with him and what a gentleman, an experience that I’ll never ever forget.
Lilli Hollein Suite
my room – the Josef Frank suite
hotel stairwell, also an elevator is available
Family photos from the owner in one of the hallways
Another lovely room with huge windows and classical details
One of the many rooms for lounging in the public space
My room had a Swedish vibe
also my room – Josef Frank suite – this was the living room
Another hotel room that I was invited to see
Green Wall in the reception area
Over my bed, I loved the light
The “United Nations” suite, fantastic colors
Another room that I visited, this one had the best stripe/wallpaper combo – but I really loved the mirrors on the ceiling – Lilli Hollein Suite
The “United Nations” suite was flooded in natural light and huge
For a design lover like me, seeing so many stunning and unique rooms was a morning well spent. The rooms all reflect the style and history of Vienna and of the building itself, which is a historical residence-turned-luxury-hotel. I was captivated by the art as I walked the corridors and stairwells. Pieces from mostly Austrian artists, hundreds of them, everywhere. The owner is definitely a art and design aficionado.
Aside from my gorgeous room, you can enjoy a healthy, fresh breakfast in the salon each morning or later in the afternoon you are invited to have tea and cakes or help yourself to the “sweets bar” which is complementary to guests. In the evening, guests are invited to lounge in the salon to have a cocktail amongst friends or simply to relax with wifi or a book like I did.
I don’t particularly enjoy traveling alone, but my husband wasn’t able to accompany me and this wasn’t a blogger “group” trip, so I rather reluctantly boarded my flight not really knowing what to expect of Vienna or of the hotel in general. It could have worked out good, bad or somewhere in between. Fortunately, I always try to bring a sunny outlook and I knew once in Vienna, the hotel would take good care of me, so I wasn’t too worried. Traveling alone doesn’t excite me as much now that I’m older. When I was a teenager or in my early twenties, I loved it. Today, I rather be with my family or friends. BUT When I arrived and was shown my room, I felt like jumping up and down on the bed. I was so happy to be alone and cared for so well. My fear turned into a total self-care adventure.
Vienna and this hotel instantly made me feel at ease. Until now, the only city I don’t mind traveling alone to usually Paris but now I can add Vienna to my very short list. Something about both cities are welcoming and almost beckon to the lonesome traveler to, “come, explore, look after yourself, look inward.” Vienna made me feel very relaxed but also it wasn’t a city that felt like you had to be a “couple” to have fun. Dining alone felt normal there, lots of people were in cafes by themselves reading a newspaper (and yes, lots of paper still in Vienna – lots of reading newspapers and magazines everywhere I went, was comforting), and lots of people strolling alone. I even went to an artsy type of party alone and instantly made new friends and felt accepted and “in the club”.
I ended up really THINKING again without distraction from my sweet little 5-year-old who is always talking (so cute but still) or from friends or my husband, because as much as I love them all I also have come to realize that I love and value my alone time too. This trip, for me, was an indulgence and provided me with a much-needed break. I felt creative and curious again as I roamed and it felt great returning to the comforts of my hotel after a long day of exploring.
Things in Vienna that I saw and loved:
The architecture – such a stunning city and so well preserved.
Lots of small, speciality shops – shoe repair, vintage shops (so many!), the man who makes glass, the lady who sews, the man who specializes in maps, so many shops that focus on ONE thing, it was inspiring and very rare in most major cities yet Vienna felt like a city both old-and-new at the same time.
The Palm house, Palmenhaus Schönbrunn, with delicious cakes and coffee for relaxing in the sun.
Everyone spoke German – naturally – so it was so easy for me to get around and understand everything since I know German. But also most people spoke English too.
Gorgeous food! I loved the cakes in this city, but also meals in general. But cake cake cake was such a special treat in Vienna. I highly suggest visiting Café Prückel for a true cake and coffee experience.
Affordable. Vienna wasn’t like Zurich or some cities I’ve visited where I could have a basic lunch without spend 30 Euro.
I easily took the train to and from the airport to the city center with no hassle – this was a great perk especially when traveling alone. Also the train was safe and clean (and affordable).
I loved the overall vibe in the city – and it was cold and not the best time of the year to be there – but still so pretty and nice. I imagine in Spring and Summer this city must be unreal since there was a lot of green space and grand boulevards and beautiful shops.
Great design shops and cafes. I love when I’m in a city and I notice that the locals are creative through the cafes and shops that I see (and how many there are). It’s always a good way to tell if the locals treasure their creative culture (or not). Vienna has a creative heart and soul. I found lots of pretty cafes, ice cream shops, parks and gardens, small local stores, etc.
Terrific typography. I noticed a lot of “vintage” typography on signs and buildings, which I loved so much. I often battle with modern logos and typography, I find most of what I see ugly and uninspiring but in Vienna, you sometimes feel like you’re living on an old film set from the 1930s because many businesses take pride in thier old typography and vintage logos.
My hotel with it’s beautiful architecture, room design, breakfast and lounge areas, afternoon sweets bar and fantastic location. I’ll be back!
I was only in Vienna for a few nights, 3 days, so I wasn’t able to see a lot because one day was spent at the Blickfang Vienna to launch HOLLY magazin in Austria. This is why I must return this Spring to see more of Vienna and hopefully stay once again at my favorite hotel in Vienna – the charming and wonderful Altstadt Vienna hotel. I truly loved it and would highly suggest to my readers that when in Vienna, stay there for a lovely experience.
(This post was sponsored by the Altstadt Vienna. All words, photos and thoughts are my own. I agreed to write a blog post ONLY if I loved the hotel because I am not a travel blogger and prefer to travel as a non-sponsored guest. However, for this trip I made an exception and I’m glad that I did because I loved the city, the hotel and the overall family feeling – the owner, his daughter, everyone was just lovely and treated me like a five star guest. Was amazing.)