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Visiting Vienna

September 22, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent


Junior Suite, Hotel Sacher Wien
A Junior Suite at the iconic Hotel Sacher Wien


The elegance and Old World charm of Vienna has now been matched by a modern, vibrant energy. With a prime location on the Danube, the city has become a popular spot for beginning or ending river cruises, and a new generation of fans has discovered novel ways to appreciate it.

What’s new in the city? In July, a new boat terminal, the Wien City terminal (Schiffstation City), opened in the old town in a first-district stretch of the Danube Canal (which is, in fact, an arm of the Danube). The new landing stage will be used by two catamarans, both named Twin City Liner, which sail on the Danube every day between Vienna and Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, which is only 37 miles away. Why is this important? No other European capitals are so close together, and the terminal will enable visitors to one city to make a day trip to the other. At the terminal, guests can relax and take in views of the river at dining facilities on all three levels of the building, including a coffee house on the sun deck and restaurant on the main deck.

Glimpse of contrasting sides of Vienna
St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Haas House provide a glimpse of contrasting sides of Vienna.

Vienna is also a prime destination for shopping excursions. Head to the shopping streets, Kärntner Strasse, Graben and Kohlmarkt, for a variety of stores. Highlights in this district are the Swarovski flagship store, J&L Lobmeyr crystal, leather goods from R. Horn’s, and (of course) Chanel and Prada. The Margaretenstrasse and its neighboring side streets are lined with original design boutiques and plenty of quirky shops.

Vienna’s museums are always a huge attraction for families, and the city recently made it much easier for children and teenagers aged 18 and under to get in. Since January 1, young people have had free entry to all museums operated by the Federal Government and the City of Vienna, including Wien Museum’s Hermesvilla in the Lainzer Tiergarten as well as the Zoom children’s museum at the MuseumsQuartier. (Good idea: Kids approaching 19 or who look mature for their age should carry a photo ID, just to be on the safe side.)



Agent Advice

"What I love most about Vienna is the way it has organically developed as a balanced city of old and new,” says Nathalie Nagy, who specializes in travel to Central Europe for Protravel International. “Many honeymooners, younger couples and families are finding Vienna an incredible vacation spot for all it has to offer.”

In the city, she suggests guests stay at the Sacher Hotel or the Grand Hotel Wien. For contemporary four-star properties, she likes The Ring and the DO & CO Hotel, which has “one of the best restaurants in the city.” For something more traditionally Viennese, she recommends the Kaiserin Elisabeth.

Some of Nagy’s favorite attractions in the city include the Hofburg Imperial Palace and its “incredible imperial treasury,” St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the legendary Opera House, the Schönbrunn Palace, the Spanish Riding School (where the world- famous Lipizzaner horses perform), the Belvedere Palace, architect/artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s Hundertwasser House and his museum, known as Kunsthaus Wien, and the Kärntner Strasse, a beautiful pedestrian street in the city center.

For something off the beaten path, Nagy suggests The Secession—nicknamed the “cabbage house” by locals—which houses Klimt’s famous Beethoven’s Frieze. She also likes the Naschmarkt, a nearly mile-long open-air market for local produce, and Asian and Middle Eastern spices. History buffs will want to check out the Freud House Museum—Dr. Sigmund Freud’s residence and place of work in Vienna at Berggasse 19.



Where to Stay

The Hotel Sacher Wien is an iconic property in the city. While the most popular rooms here are the Top Deluxe Rooms and Junior Suites, we hear the best are the two Presidential suites. (Note for families: The rooms do not connect.) Nice touch: All of the suites are named after famous operas (the two Presidential suites are called Madame Butterfly and Magic Flute). For best views, suggest rooms facing the Opera House, the Albertina or the Kärntner Strasse.

The hotel’s six-room spa (one of which is for couples) has four “delicious-sounding” treatments that incorporate ingredients from the cacao bean. (We always knew chocolate was good for you!) Travel agents can contact Spa Manager Susanne Oezalp (011-43-151-456-560, [email protected]) for details.

The hotel has two fine-dining restaurants, Rote Bar and Anna Sacher. For something traditionally Viennese, suggest your clients try the boiled beef filet with apple horseradish, chive sauce and Viennese potatoes. And, of course, guests have to try the hotel’s most famous recipe: the Sacher Torte, a decadent chocolate cake clearly not available anywhere else. (The recipe is copyrighted—try as other bakeries may to make their own versions, it just isn’t the same.)

Head Concierge Wolfgang Buchmann (011-43-151-456-780, [email protected]) can arrange just about anything your clients may want while in town, like private guided tours (after regular opening hours) in the top museums, hot-air balloon rides or a champagne cocktail in the city’s giant Ferris wheel.

Travel agents should contact Brigitta Hartl-Wagner (011-43-151-456-828, [email protected]), chief sales and marketing officer, or General Manager Reiner Heilmann (011-43-151-456-0, [email protected]) for more information.

On the horizon: Back in June, the first stone was set for what will become the tallest building in Austria. More importantly, the DC Tower will also be the future home of the Hotel ME Vienna. The fifth ME—and the first hotel to be operated by Sol Meliá in Austria—will have 255 rooms on the first 15 floors of the building with panoramic views over the River Danube.

In November, the Accor group will open a five-star Sofitel hotel in a new building by the Danube Canal in Vienna’s second district.

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