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Holidays in ViennaJuly 1, 2013 By: Richard Nahem Travel Agent
Now is the time to start planning Christmas trips to the Austrian capital.
|The wide variety and abundance of Christmas markets all over Vienna is one of the city’s biggest draws.|
With the Fourth of July upon us, a holiday season vacation may be the last thing on your clients’ minds. However, given the popularity of Europe’s Christmas markets, now is the time to start planning if they want the best available accommodations. Some suppliers have already begun advertising these markets to encourage bookings.
With its dazzling outdoor light shows, festive shop windows, Christmas concerts in grand halls and palaces, and brisk and snowy weather, Vienna in mid-November through December is a most inviting city in which to celebrate the Yuletide. One of the biggest draws is the variety and abundance of Christmas markets all over the city. The Rathausplatz, where the impressive Gothic-style city hall built in 1883 stands, is the backdrop for the largest and most traditional of these—Wiener Christkindlmarkt. Anchored by a towering Christmas tree, the bustling market, open day and night, has row upon row of brightly-lit stalls.
A vast array of holiday ornaments and decorations are most prevalent alongside food stands with giant pretzels, gingerbread cookies decorated with white icing spelling out various holiday greetings, and chestnuts stoked over hot coals. Hot, mulled wine and punch warm one’s insides and helps take some of the chill off.
The trendy area of Spittelberg, has a more intimate market on its narrow, side streets. It specializes in artisanal wares and crafts including hand-knit sweaters, furry slippers, handcrafted ornaments, stuffed animals, and a stall with Klimt-inspired glassware. An alternative is the quaint, small market in front of Belvedere Castle, a former Baroque palace dating back to 1712, now housing the Belvedere Museum.
Visit www.vienna4u.at/christmasmarket.html for a comprehensive list and details of Vienna’s top markets.
A holiday time visit to Vienna wouldn’t be complete without attending a Christmas musical at its famed concert halls. The Vienna Boys’ Choir always does a memorable series of Christmas concerts. Schonbrunn Palace is the ideal fairy tale-like setting for their in-house orchestra for Christmas and New Year concerts. The Vienna Royal Orchestra offers a special Christmas package with a classical masterpieces concert and dinner at the MediterraNeo restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of hotels in Vienna, especially for luxury travelers, and it was hard to narrow down our choices. One of the newest players is the striking Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, rising 18 stories high above the city. French architect Jean Nouvel designed the ambitious tower of glass, concrete and steel, completing construction in 2010. The luxurious but minimalist style 156 rooms and 26 suites are purposely done in monochromatic white, gray or black, and have great panoramic views of the city.
Continuing with the French influence, the centerpiece of the hotel is the Le Loft restaurant and lounge, where three-star French Chef Antoine Westermann has been appointed as the consulting chef. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the airy, open space has 30-foot windows with jaw-dropping views of the city including St. Stephen’s Church and the Danube. For bookings, contact Patrizia Tonin ([email protected]).
For something a little offbeat there’s the 25hours Hotel in the Museum Quarter, a rich cultural center of museums, design and art shops, and restaurants. The hotel is part of a small chain that caters to the young and young-at-heart with an exuberant, attentive staff.
The resort has 35 suites ranging from about 345 to 540 square feet, while another 184 units start at 180 square feet and go up to 300 square feet or more. Families can book adjoining rooms on request. Suites have kitchenettes and floor-to-ceiling windows and all rooms sport a circus theme with whimsical details such as a wall mural with big-top acts and a closet on wheels that simulate a circus wardrobe.
The 25hours also houses the Mermaid’s Cave spa, 1500 Foodmakers restaurant, and Dachboden, a bar on the top floor with great views of the city, that serves breakfast in the morning and coffee, light food, and drinks all day into evening.
Agents should reach out to Roland Eggenhofer ([email protected]), senior sales manager, with any queries.
Wiener schnitzel is one of the national dishes of Austria and look no further than Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper for the thinnest, crispiest Wiener schnitzel in Vienna. This chain of upscale restaurants throughout the city offers traditional Viennese fare with contemporary decor.
A must-do indulgence is to sample rich Viennese pastries at some of the legendary, turn-of-the-century cafes and tearooms. Coffee is almost an art form in Vienna and the traditional cafes serve it on a metal tray along with a glass of water, a teaspoon, and a tiny pitcher of warm milk.
The Cafe Museum, designed in 1899 by Adolf Loos, was the watering hole for artists, writers and creative people in the early 1900s including Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Sigmond Freud, Joseph Roth, Alban Berg and Otto Koloman Wagner. Sink into the plush red velvet banquettes and, we suggest, order the warm apple strudel in vanilla sauce.
Dating back to 1786, Demel is the premier confectionery and pastry shop of Vienna. Two glass cases at the entrance are stacked with decadent pastries, and the side rooms offer an extensive array of beautifully packaged chocolates and candies. The handsome tearoom upstairs serves a full menu along with their famed hot chocolate, fine coffee, and of course, pastries.
|All rooms at 25Hours Hotel sport a circus theme with whimsical details such as a wall mural with clowns and circus acts.|