I’m staring out the window at cold and miserable and rainy loud London and I know exactly where I’d rather be – and it’s not the beach. If I could be anywhere right now it would be the lounge area of the Hollmann Beletage hotel in Vienna.
That’s where the boyf and I were last weekend, surrounded by books, newspapers, a piano, whiskey, taxidermied budgies and pure unadulterated silence. Yes, there’s a gorgeous piano, but if you want to play a ditty then you wear headphones so as to not disturb the silence which fills the hotel. It’s the most wonderfully relaxing place.
Relaxing is how I’d bill Vienna generally, actually. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in a lot of ‘famous cities’, but the one thing that always ruins them? Other people. Your lovely photo of famous landmark x? Filled with other people taking a lovely photo of landmark x. I don’t want to read photo menus or be surrounded by large bus groups “following the flag” or get hassled by people selling tatty postcards. But usually if you want to visit a famous city, you have to put up with other people enjoying the same famous city through their viewfinders.
Vienna wasn’t like that though, or it certainly wasn’t when we were there, it was just beautiful, quiet and humble. Nothing was ruining it, it just was.
We flew after work on Friday night with Austrian Airlines, the flight was full of beautiful people with designer wash bags. It was very pleasant. Austrians are very civilised – RyanAir this was not. The flight was just under 2.5 hours which is longer than I realised (don’t laugh at my geography skillz).
From the aiport it’s a quick taxi drive into ‘Vienna proper’, it’s not like landing at Standsted or Luton (shudder). We found our boutique hotel on a perfectly located quiet side street, it was silent there but just a stone’s throw from Stephansdom.
I was excited about staying at Hollmann Beletage – it’s the second highest rated hotel in Vienna on TripAdvisor. And I wasn’t disappointed! The hotel won me over instantly, as you enter via hopscotch and there are stuffed birds everywhere.
It was nearly midnight when we got there, but our keys had been left on the desk and we were still made to feel more than welcome thanks to the chalkboard outside the room.
As for the room, it was amazing. Huge and open and tall, exactly how I’d love my own home to be. The bath and shower were open plan in our room, so maybe not ideal if you’re sharing with your boss on a work trip, but if there as a couple it was very nice indeed. Thanks to the ridiculously high ceilings the shower was the definition of heaven – I’ve used a lot of ‘rain’ showers but this one was genuinely like standing in the rain. And the bath was huge and deep and easily accommodated two.
Oh and I LOVED that there were Pez dispensers in the room, I didn’t realise Pez was an Austrian brand but it is. I presumed these two were chosen specifically to represent me and my boyf (lulz)..
It’s often too noisy to do so, but I love to sleep with the windows open if possible, especially in a new country. It’s just nice to wake up to, ya know? It was so silent and still where the hotel was located though that we easily slept with the windows open. It was heaven.
It might not always be so quiet, I guess November isn’t exactly peak time, but it was the most relaxing hotel we’d ever stayed in.
The breakfast? That was amazing too. Like a breakfast taster menu, really. There were courses and courses! I can’t even begin to describe the breads and home made marmalades and jams. And the croissants. And the scrambled eggs with pumpkin oil. And the cheese. And the coffee.
We picked up our free iPads from reception (all guests can borrow an iPad each for their stay…and the wifi is free and fast) and lounged about a bit before heading off to see Vienna in the flesh. It’s genuinely very hard to drag yourself away from the comfort of the hotel, but we couldn’t come back from Vienna having not left the lounge!
Vienna is a beautiful, beautiful city with so much history. It’s easy to see a lot on foot, which is what we did with a tour guide.
My favourite spot we visited was the stunningly beautiful Palm House at Schönbrunn Palace.
I have a slight obsession with conservatories and it was stunning. And there was a butterfly garden! All I want from a holiday is for a butterfly to land on my shoulder.
Vienna was gorgeous by night too, especially as it was winter. The Christmas markets had literally just started which made for some cutesy shopping and, errr, boozing.
For dinner on the Saturday night we went to Hollmann Salon which is owned by the hotel. As a vegetarian I’m always a bit wary of Germanic food, but the staff were excellent and excitedly brought me all sorts of scrummy things. I never thought I’d be able to say I’d eaten pumpkin tiramisu but I have – and it was amazing!
I wore a dress by Louisa Okonye, my fave Vienna designer (she sells on ASOS Marketplace and Amazon). It made sense to wear Austrain whilst in Austria, so I also had Swarovski earrings and Wolford tights on!
On Sunday the shops are closed in Vienna, so that’s worth making a note of if you’re only going for a weekend. It saved my bank balance though as I had reasoned with myself that I needed at least five new puffer jackets (is there anything more glam Euro than a shiny fur trimmed puffer?!) and I really don’t need any more coats! It was hard not to be tempted by all the shopping, even Louis Vuitton/Cartier/Valentino etc seem so much glammer out there.
We spent our Sunday back in Stephansdom listening to the choir (I cried, it was so beautiful) then we continued the wintery magicness with a horse drawn carriage ride around the city.
Yeah, Vienna really is THE city to pretend to be a princess. My boyfriend found this quite annoying after a while but I LOVED it.
Oh and of course I can’t not mention the cakes. Vienna is famous for its cakes and pastries and it’s easy to see why when you see their cake to cream ratios…
We really enjoyed the lounge area at the back of Cafe Diglas, again it was just a beautiful spot to read the papers and relax. And eat lots of cake.
I came away from Vienna thinking it was a city I could really live in. My creative side felt very inspired there and if I ever get some time out to write (please God) then Vienna is where I’d squirrel away to do it.
It’s a beautiful, friendly, relaxing place. And for me that break was just what the doctor ordered…I’d had literally the worst week ever before going so it was heaven to get away.
I’d love to go back and see it by summer…mainly because I’m intrigued by the boat trip to Bratislava. And there were lots of cool bars we didn’t get a chance to go crazy in because we opted to chill out instead.
Weekends away can be a bit of a chore sometimes, trying to cram everything in and see everything. If you don’t take Friday/Monday off work it can be so exhausting that when you get back to work you regret going away at all. If you’re looking for a weekend city break that DOESN’T drain you then def look into Vienna, it was relaxing even though we did quite a lot.
Thanks for having us Vienna, we’ll be sure to return!