Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Vienna
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Vienna.
I’m an Australian traveller-turned-expat who’s been living in Vienna for 3 years now. I love discovering the hidden nooks the city has to offer. Over time I’ve developed a taste for the finer things – my Austrian partner has 5-star habits, so has made it a mission over the last few years to convert me from a budget backpacker traveller into a discerning luxury lover. So far he’s succeeding! I write about the places we discover at Austrian Adaptation and love sharing insider tips with visitors to Vienna.
Enjoying Austrian outfits, wine and sunset views at a Heuringer!
What makes Vienna a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
Vienna is one of the original ‘glamour cities’ of Europe. Historically it was home to royalty for centuries and even now it has an understated elegance and luxurious lifestyle. The most luxurious thing about the city is not the architecture, or the classical music, or the cuisine (although they are all fab!) but the calm, quiet atmosphere. Walking the city centre of Vienna you never feel rushed, or surrounded by crowds. It’s truly luxurious because it moves at its own, relaxed pace. There’s also so much to choose from – art, museums, fantastic outdoor activities, historic sightseeing….you cannot get bored here.
What 5 star hotel is the best in Vienna?
The Grand Dame of luxury hotels in Vienna is the Hotel Imperial. With original architecture from 1863, this is the ultimate in 5 star luxury. Butler service and views across the Ringstrasse included. This is the kind of place diplomats, Queen Elizabeth II and Brangelina stay in when they visit Vienna. Extremely traditional and a good option if you want to experience life like a European Monarch on your visit! For more info on where to stay in Vienna, click there.
What about boutique hotels in Vienna, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
The boutique hotels in Vienna are, to my mind, much more interesting than the traditional classic hotels. The best of them is the Hotel Altstadt which offers suites, single rooms and apartments designed by famous architect Mattheo Tun and local fashion designer Lena Hocheck. This place is in the über-cool 7th district, housed within a Viennese apartment block just a short walk from the Museums Quartier. The Altstadt has individually designed rooms, with works by Niki de Saint Phalle, Annie Leibovitz and Andy Warhol scattered throughout. Its an art-design boutique hotel dream! I would recommend this to everyone to get a real feeling of artistic Vienna.
Are there any fun activities in Vienna for the adventurous traveler?
The Viennese are all about getting outdoors – there’s fantastic cycling paths, hiking trails in the national parks surrounding the city and loads of city parks and gardens to burn your energy. The best place to head in summer for adventure activities is the Donau Insel – you can go rock climbing, kayaking, try wakeboarding on a cable across the Danube, hire a Stand Up Paddleboard, cycle the length of the island and even go retro and try in-line skating. Afterwards there’s some great bars along the canal to wind down and watch the sunset.
Chilling beside the Danube
Where are the best hang outs during the day?
The cafe culture in Vienna is ingrained in the cities identity. You can spend hours in coffee houses where Einstein, Freud and famous artists of the 20th century hung out. Cafe Hawelka and Cafe Central are two of the best traditional coffee houses. For non-traditional, head to Zamm, Wirr or Liebling, the cities best third-wave coffee hipster cafe’s.
Traditional Cafe Hawelka – philosophers hangout spot
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best desserts in Vienna?
Vienna is a dessert obsessed city. I definitely put on about 5kg’s in my first months of living here, and I blame it entirely on the dessert options! Vienna is the birthplace of apple strudel and Sacher Torte, so you are never going to be short of choices here. The best traditional dessert experience is in Cafe Demel. They have been making pastries and chocolates for the Viennese since 1786 – and for centuries were the official bakers of the royal family. The mini-cakes are to die for and especially good if you can’t make up your mind!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots in Vienna; who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
The Golden Quartier in Vienna’s 1st district is home to all the major international designers – Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Yves St Laurent and major luxury labels. But if you want more local luxury designers you are better off heading to the grittier 4th district. There you’ll find Mäannersache, an Austrian cravat & shirt designer for men that sources and produces all products locally. Their classy and colourful shirts are not for shy guys. If you’re a luxury vintage fan Flo Vintage has a lovingly curated collection from the last 100 years of fashion. Wall in the 7th district offers the best in local and European designers – it’s especially good for leather jackets and accessories for the home.
Wall in the 7th District
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
Head for the hills and sit in a local ‘Heuriger’. These are little wineries that offer small tasting plates and delicious, locally made wine. There’s some gorgeous Heurigers with views looking over the city of Vienna and the Danube which are perfect for sunset views. My personal favourite is a tiny little hut on Wilhelminenberg – Heuriger Leitner offers killer views, and the best home-made desserts in all of Vienna. Their meals are excellent value and it is so small you can be guaranteed an exclusive view over the city.
Now that the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks.
There’s some excellent cocktail bars throughout the city but the absolute best is The Sign in the 9th district. They have award winning mixologists and make creative cocktails in a classy lounge setting. From sweet fairy-floss encased drinks, to concoctions in popcorn containers and the best damn martini’s in the city, you’ll plan on starting the night here, and probably end up accidently staying all night! I love this place for the atmosphere and surprising combinations in a really smooth setting – always good for a glamorous girls night out.
Read on: Travel Guide to Austria — there’s so much more to see after Vienna!
Carly Hulls writes at Austrian Adaptation about her expat life in Vienna and the places she discovers on her part-time travels. She is an Australian writer, traveller, brunch-fiend and book-nerd who can’t resist a good castle or historic monument. After 5 years travelling to over 34 countries she currently calls Vienna home, facing the daily struggle of the German language! You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat @CarlyHulls.
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Thanks for sharing this!! I’m headed to Vienna next year, and my better half loves a bit of luxury – I’ll definitely be consulting this!!
I wish I had this before I went haha I love this series because it helps me out so much
Great piece! We’re planning on visiting Vienna in a couple of months. While it most likely won’t be luxurious, it’s always great to know what a city has to offer!
Yeah and sometimes I will go to the fancy hotels just for a happy hour drink which is fun too!
Lot of thanks for the article! I’d love to travel to Vienna someday and see Austria. My country is not very far from it and still I’ve to go there. Now you have inspired me to finally do so, so thanks a lot!