Jane Watkins explores the Austrian capital that marks the 150th anniversary of Ringstrasse this year.
If you’ve ever wanted a dose of old-time glamour, then stepping into the Park Hyatt’s Art Deco foyer will make all of your wishes come true. The hotel couldn’t be set closer to the heart of Vienna – indeed, the Romans founded the city on this very spot – and it’s now surrounded by enough luxury shopping spots to warrant bringing a second suitcase.
The renovation of the former bank into a five-star hotel has been accomplished with an eye to honouring its history: the swimming pool is in the former vaults and the bright Bank restaurant – with its attentive, verging on clairvoyant staff – occupies the former cashiers’ hall. In the bar, there are cocktails wittily named for currencies and, if you were inclined to get married in Vienna, the hotel’s main conference room is breathtaking.
The rooms are serene and welcoming and I’d love to have one of the beds – I’ve rarely slept so well. The many clever touches include a TV hidden behind a retractable mirror.
Most of Vienna’s main attractions are within walking distance, but the efficient tram and Metro system will whisk you around the city should you prefer. Ilse Heigarth (firstname.lastname@example.org), our charming guide, helped point out the city’s highlights and, although Strauss and Mozart are ubiquitous, I adored
a recital of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Rooms from €580 for a double room, including breakfast. Park Hyatt Vienna, Am Hof 2, 1st District, Vienna (00 43 1 22740 1234; http://vienna.park.hyatt.com). Austrian Airlines has frequent flights to Vienna (www.austrian.com)
Raise a glass
Did you know that Vienna is the only European city to have a vineyard within its limits? Visit the local Heuriger to sample local wines or find out more in a tour of the cellars at the Palais Coburg. From €89 per person (www.palais-coburg.com)
A few of my favourite things
You can’t go to Vienna without visiting one of its traditional coffee houses. The Zum Schwartzen Kameel is round the corner from the hotel, which boasts its own sophisticated, Art Deco-style cafe. Enjoy schnitzel with tart Viennese potato salad, whether it’s rustic at Lugeck or refined at Julius Meinl am Graben, which also has great views.
End of an era
Next year marks the centenary of the death of several influential, Viennese figures in art and architecture, including Klimt (the ever-popular The Kiss is at the Belvedere), Schiele and Wagner. For details on all of the exhibitions, tours and events as part of ‘Beauty and the Abyss’, visit www.wien.info
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