Need a little pampering? Today, our Vienna expert, Barbara Grüll-Cação, offers up luxury Vienna travel ideas.
I usually add a little luxury to my days in my hometown Vienna, Austria: a night in a five star hotel, dinner at a Michelin star restaurant, a concert at the home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, a special tour at the Museum of Fine Arts or a typically Viennese spa treatment.
While Vienna’s luxury sector is booming, pampering yourself here is still cheaper than in many other European capitals.
Private tours at Museum of Fine Arts and Imperial Palace
Less is more. Pick your favourite collection or exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, and have a special art guide introduce you to the intricacies of Renaissance paintings, antique jewellery, and baroque musical instruments. Private museum tours take approximately one hour.
The Imperial Palace (Hofburg) is a main tourist attraction and usually buzzing with visitors. You can circumvent the crowds with a private tour through the Imperial Apartments and the Sisi Museum.
Lunch at Michelin Restaurant Steirereck
Taste Austrian food at its most elegant and innovative at Michelin restaurant Steirereck. Two starred chef Heinz Reitbauer unearths the flavors of long forgotten traditional vegetables and re-invents our hearty meat and dumpling dishes into samples of finest cuisine. The restaurant is located right in the middle of Stadtpark, next to the Wien river. Bookings recommended.
Luxury Vienna Shopping
Vienna’s top shopping boulevards Graben and Kohlmarkt are brimming with exquisite international luxury brands; and there is no end in sight of shop openings, such as recently Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Armani, and a new Louis Vuitton store, which will become the second largest after Paris in March 2013.
The shops are all located in the historic city centre and pedestrian area. You can easily blend your shopping with sightseeing and coffeehouses.
Chocolate Spa Treatment
At Hotel Sacher, you can pile chocolate on your tummy without any guilt at all. The home of the famous Sacher Torte offers different chocolate spa treatments in its in-house spa. Sacher’s Time to Chocolate® products are made with antioxidant-rich cocoa beans and cocoa butter. You can choose from a mixture of chocolate body wraps, cocoa bean peeling massages, chocolate body masks and an aroma steam bath.
Grand Music And Plays
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera are hugely popular among both residents and travelers, for a very good reason. They are both top of their class worldwide. Getting tickets for the Vienna Philharmonics isn’t easy but there are a few tricks you can try. As for the Vienna State Opera, which is on average 99 percent sold out—book as early as you can.
Dinner At Silvio Nickol’s Gourmet Restaurant
Feasting at Silvio Nickol’s gourmet restaurant at luxury hotel Palais Coburg is like opera for your taste buds. I had the most amazing time there when I celebrated my round birthday. The combinations of flavors and textures are highly imaginative and tasty. Each dish looks like a delicate painting, and guests can watch their meals being created in the kitchen on individual video screens. On top, Palais Coburg’s unique wine collection of more than 5,500 exquisite wines makes for a few fantastic discoveries.
Luxury Boutique Hotels
Vienna’s small luxury hotels are a mix of contemporary styles and Viennese charm. A top address that has attracted celebrities like John Malkovich and Donna Leon is the Hotel Hollmann Beletage, boasting a large living room, spa, home cinema, and the adjacent Hollmann Salon restaurant located in a baroque courtyard.
The Hotel Altstadt is officially four star but I can’t stop recommending it to people who love exquisite places to stay. It is probably the most ‘Viennese’ among small local boutique hotels. As of late, you can stay at a suite designed by star Austrian dirndl dresses creator and women’s fashion designer Lena Hoschek.
Hotel Topazz is a more recent addition. The bubbly exterior was designed to reflect a jewellery box. The interiors beautifully update the Art Nouveau design of Wiener Werkstaette with elements of the 1930s.
Barbara Grüll-Cação runs the travel site Vienna Unwrapped. Barbara has lived in and around Vienna for 30 years and regularly visits the city from London, where she now lives with her husband and two kids. On Vienna Unwrapped, she shares her tips of the best hotels in Vienna , guided tours, concerts and operas, restaurants, shopping trips, and places to see with you.
All photos courtesy Vienna Unwrapped.