Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Vienna: A Mini-Guide

We spent our last trip of the year in Vienna at the beautiful Hotel Altstadt which is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and, I have to say, is one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever stayed in. We arrived in the evening (in the freezing cold – Vienna is not a warm place in December), tired from a day of travelling; but from the minute we stepped in we were grinning like two Cheshire cats. On Valium. And that’s only partly because there were chocolate and homemade cookies waiting at reception. We received such a lovely welcome – the staff there are so, so lovely and helpful – and after we were given a wee talk through the local restaurants and goings on in the area we were taken up to our room. Wait till you see this..
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Holy Moly. That’s all I can say. It’s so very rare that you walk into a hotel room and find it designed exactly to your taste, but I immediately decided I’d like to re-ceate it completely for myself. I just need somewhere with very, very high ceilings. You walk in to be greeted by an amazing big bed which sits on top of a round rug, under a huge chandelier and, once you’ve spent a little while staring at that with your mouth open, you turn around and see, what’s that? IT’S ONLY A FREE STANDING BATH. Oh how I love a free standing bath. Then there’s a desk area with espresso maker, a big open wardrobe, bookshelves with mini bar and surround sound and a little sofa area with a coffee table that turns into a chess board. Really just everything you could ever want.

Sidenote: I haven’t played chess since I was a child and have since discovered that I’m not only horrible at chess, I’m a horrible loser too. 
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The food in the hotel is lovely too, with a different breakfast menu every morning. You have certain elements that stay the same, like the bread table, the continental buffet, the cereals and the champagne (oh yes) but each day the main menu will change. On the first day I had farmer’s omelette, the second I had poached eggs and spinach and the last I haaad porridge maybe? I can’t remember, but I can tell you it was good. They also do free tea, cake and Milka chocolates every day from 4-6pm so we’d do a little explore each afternoon and then come back to warm up with a nice hot tea and some (ok, lots of) chocolate in front of the fire and the big Christmas tree. It’s one of those hotels that you don’t want to use only for sleeping, so we did do a fair bit of popping back and forward, sometimes just to look at the beautiful bath for a while. Kidding. Kind of.
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Vienna itself is so beautiful, especially in Wintertime. We wandered round different Christmas markets (the best one being the big one at Rathaus, I made an unexpected squeal when I saw it, it really catches you off-guard it's so beautiful), fueled by delicious gluhwein, took in the view from the top of St Stephen’s cathedral (a definite must-do) and had some amazing, amazing food. Two places I’d really like to recommend that I've not included photos of are A) Pizza Scarabocchio, especially if you’re gluten free. It’s hands down the best gf pizza I’ve ever had and, judging from the tripadvisor reviews, there’s a whole lot of us GFers with the same opinion and b) Der Dachboden bar and lounge. This we stumbled across by accident and it turned out to be my dream bar; if I ever set up my own bar it’d be like this place exactly. But, you know, someone beat me to it. You can go out on the balcony and look right across the whole city with a drink in hand or come indoors where the room's made up of random armchairs and benches and sofas (with the best cocktails you could imagine) and old gramophone music playing. Plus lots and lots of cool characters to watch. It’s on the top floor of a hotel and down in reception you’ll find a cool little sop and an authentic old photoautomat that’ll do you four photos for two euros. Seriously check um both out! 


Thank you to Hotel Altstadt and Small Luxury Hotels for such a wonderful stay!