The beauty of Vienna is unlike anywhere I’ve seen before. When looking at pictures of Vienna ahead of my visit visions of grandeur filled my head; glistening rooftops, marble statues and chandeliers galore! Turns out, Vienna is exactly as you imagine it to be and more. The city not only took my breath away – it stole my heart too…
I’m not really the sort of person who can go on holiday and unwind and relax. I like to be up early to explore my surroundings as much as possible and make the most of the time I have somewhere new. We spent 3 nights and 4 days uncovering as much of the city as we possibly could. Relaxing? Not really. Enjoyable? Hell yes!
I wanted to share my tips with you on places to visit, eat & drink in this spectacular city. So grab a pen or your phone and get ready to take notes…
We stayed at the incredibly lavish, Grand Ferdinand Hotel located in the beating heart of Vienna on Ringstrasse. The interiors are a beautiful blend of traditional and modern styles, each room carefully considered to dazzle but not overwhelm the senses. On entering the hotel you are immediately met with a real candlelit chandelier and the striking hotel mascot; a black taxidermy horse! If you are looking for a hotel that is as stylish as it is comfortable, this is the one for you.
Each room has beautifully clean design, an inviting cloud of a bed and an open-plan bathroom. If you’re craving a luxurious soak, treat yourself to a Suite: the claw-foot baths are front and centre and the chandeliers add that extra special touch.
We were lucky enough to stay in one of the suites on the seventh floor, in what was quite possibly the biggest room I’ve ever seen! It was literally the size, if not bigger than, some studio apartments! Waking up after the best nights sleep I’ve had in a very long time in the comfiest bed and looking out over the city sure beat waking up in London and overlooking other grey apartments.
We were staying at The Grand Ferdinand for business, initially, to do a review for Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels (which you will be able to read soon enough!) – so we had to play it cool and act pretty nonchalant about the grandness of it all! Hand on heart, I have to say this is the best hotel experience that I have ever had. Normally, I prefer to stay in apartments as hotel’s can be loud and impersonal… Not at The Grand Ferdinand. We were made to feel welcome by the friendliest team who were all more than happy to stop and chat to us about our day, where we’d been or to recommend great places to visit.
THE GRAND ÉTAGE AT THE GRAND FERDINAND
The restaurant on the eighth floor of the hotel is for guests-only and is one of highest rating places to eat in town. The menu is to-die-for and the atmosphere is serene, unlike other hotel restaurants. The opulent decor is continued throughout the Grand Étage, with burgundy chesterfields, plush armchairs and of course, the signature of the Grand Ferdinand: The Chandelier.
We ate here for breakfast each morning and once for dinner. I’m not normally a red meat eater but the waitress managed to convince me to go for the fillet with thyme fries – and I was not disappointed at all. Every bite went down easily! The starters, main and deserts were all just the right size and beautifully presented (There’s only so many pictures of your food you can take when you’re undercover reviewing without them getting suspicious!) If you stay at The Grand Ferdinand do make sure you dine here one evening.
The team were always incredibly friendly, offering tips of places to visit off of the beaten track and even remembering our drink orders! Tucked away in the corner, overlooking the outside pool is the bar area where the bartender is happy to whip up something special as an aperitif.
A huge shout out has to go to Tamaris, who looked after us like we were friends and not hotel guests. She gave us great advice on places to visit in our few days in Vienna and greeted us everyday with the biggest smile. People are far too quick these days to make a complaint but never offer credit where it’s due. So, I’m putting it out there: Grand Ferdinand team. You were all bloody brilliant!
The Bank Brasserie at The Hyatt Park hotel is one of the most opulent places I have ever stepped foot in. The entrance is pretty inconspicuous from the outside, which leads up a staircase into a wonderfully elaborate room. Marble, gold and twinkling lights dazzle on arrival. The restaurant and bar sits in the historical banking hall with some of the striking original features still in place.
Our meal here has to be quite honestly, my favourite meal we had the entire trip. The food was mind-blowingly delicious and the wine and cocktail menu is off the chart! We spent over four hours making our way through three courses, two bottles of wine and several cocktails at the buzzing bar afterwards. I can’t really convey in words just what a spectacular time we had at The Bank Brasserie & Bar – Sure, it was a little pricey but everything that we tasted, smelt and saw was worth every single euro.
In 2007 the doors of this coffee house jewel along Vienna’s Wienzeile-Street re-opened. After careful remodelling by Conran & Partners, Cafe Drechsler now presents itself as a café in 21st century style. You probably wouldn’t initially be drawn into going into Cafe Dreschler walking past it in the street. It’s relatively ‘normal’ looking from the outside, but the inside is another story. Minimal yet cosy, we tried out some of Austria’s famous dishes. Potato salad but not as we know it. There’s is pretty light, a blend of butter, onion and vinegar means it sits lightly as a side dish as opposed to our gloopy mayonnaise based dish! I was hesitant to try Schnitzel as traditionally it’s Veal and I’m not a big fan of dark meat… however when I travel to another country I like to try the cuisine and do you know what? It was so tasty and was the perfect lunch dish washed down with a glass of Austrian wine, of course.
Tucked away off of one of the main roads, Motto is pretty well hidden on arrival. Frosted windows glow different colours with palm leaf shadows as the only clue that something is going on inside this otherwise ordinary building. On entering, we are immediately met by a dazzling decor of emerald velvet, sparkling glasses and the roar of laughter amongst friends. This is where the bold and the beautiful come to wine and dine when in Vienna. We each had a couple of courses, which were out-of-this world delicious. If you’re a meat eater, you must try the chilli-chocolate steak… it sounds bizarre but totally works! The cocktail menu was also pretty tongue-in-cheek with ‘Brexit’, ‘Trump’s Nightmare’ and ‘The Plastic Surgeon’ at the top of the recommendation list.
If you’re looking for somewhere that stands out from the crowd when dining, this is an experience like no other. Oh, and be prepared to be served by the best looking waiters and waitresses in existence.
Quite possibly the coolest Italian joint in Vienna, Kitch is a delight for the eyes and the tastebuds. I had a life-changing pizza in Kitch; Burrata and rocket which you must try for yourself. I have moments where I just stop and daydream about how good it was! We popped by for what was meant to be a quick lunch but turned into a two and a half hour stay. The Kitch team are incredibly friendly and the atmosphere is buzzing yet relaxed. The Shazam app got quite a few uses too – the music is also on point.
An institution since 1876, Café Central has been serving up traditional coffee specialities and sweet treats for over 150 years. If you have a sweet tooth then you’re in for the time of your life! You must try Vienna’s infamous Sacher-Torte cake with a coffee. The interiors are opulent, as one would expect for a building of such historical importance. Be prepared to queue for around 10 minutes – this gives you plenty of time to ogle every else’s delicious delicacies. Good luck trying to decide on just the one cake though!
Most of our trip was spent eating, drinking or looking at the many incredible works of art and architecture that the city had to offer. Whether are is your thing or not, you’d be pretty silly to miss out seeing some of the greatest architecture and historical works of art. So whether you’re going for a weekend or for a week, be sure to check out these places to visit:
Probably one of the most iconic buildings in Vienna, The Belvedere was once a palace for the royalty of Austria. With expansive grounds that overlook the city and onto the Winter Palace you can spend a good amount of time just wandering the grounds. Inside, some of the world’s most important works of art from Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele adorn the walls. This was definitely a highlight of the trip. Be sure to get there for opening time to avoid the crowds!
One of the most culturally significant buildings in the city, the Secession building is an exhibition space that occupies a unique position in the history of modern art, combining a contemporary, forward-looking program with a building whose architecture is an icon of the spirit of innovation and optimism that prevailed around 1900. At a time when artists were visionaries and broke barriers when the world didn’t fully understand and appreciate them, this building stands proud and defiant.
Spanning over several floors, The Leopold has one of the most extensive Egon Schiele and expressive art collections in Vienna. Be prepared to spend a couple of hours wandering around this grand museum, most of the art is quite ‘out there’ so if you are a fan of the more ‘traditional’ style, this probably isn’t for you. This was my second favourite museum after the Belvedere.
It was pretty darn cold when we visited Vienna, -5 degreescold to be exact. Most of my packing consisted of chunky knitwear and Heat-tech pieces from Uniqlo… lifesavers! This was the one time I had to think of practicality over style, sigh. Still, I tried my best. Stupidly I didn’t take a picture of a couple of outfits because we were too distracted by exploring and exploring everything the city had to offer!
Red “L’aventure’ jumper – Maison Labiche
Black skinny trousers – ASOS
Black & white fleck coat – Whistles (old season)
White roll neck – Uniqlo
Oversize stripe dress shirt – Zara
Fisherman knit – Zara
Shoes – Jack Purcell
Sunglasses – Neubau
Stripe t-shirt – Maison Labiche
I hope you found my city guide useful and you managed to gather up some great tips, whether you’re planning your first trip to the city or returning again. Let me know by leaving a comment. Whilst you’re here please follow me on Twitter & Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel!