By Nila Do Simon
With Europe’s vast and rich history in every square inch of Vienna, it’s easy to get your cultural fix on in Austria’s capital. Located on the banks of the Danube River, the former imperial city is filled with everything from musical attractions to art and history museums to awe-inspiring landmarks washed in gold.
A trip to Vienna brings to life all the stories and studies from high school European history class. Vienna, or “Wien” in German, is a pedestrian-friendly city that today stands as a reminder of the imperial Habsburg empire and its lavish lifestyle. So much of who Vienna is can be found in the halls of its lauded palaces, museums and musical landmarks, which one can bump into around every corner of the city.
One of the finest resting places in Vienna is at the Grand Hotel Wien, a premier hotel on Vienna’s prestigious Ringstrasse boulevard. Within walking distance from the Vienna State Opera and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, this luxury hotel offers 205 rooms and suites is filled with esteemed history. When the Grand Hotel Wien opened its doors in 1870, it was Vienna’s first luxury hotel and the first of the famous hotels on the prestigious Ringstrasse boulevard. Boasting a steam-operated elevator, bars, restaurants and stables for the guests’ horses, it set entirely new standards and instantly became a sensation. Everybody who was anybody met there. Composer Eduard Strauss gave concerts in the hotel’s ballroom, and in 1804 his brother, the King of Waltz Johann Strauss, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut as a composer in the same hall.
Today, the Grand Hotel Wien stands as the venerable grand edifice in a city that’s moving forward with its history. It’s also kept its standing as one of Vienna’s leading hospitality institutes, as evidenced with its three restaurant, some of the finest in town. The award-winning French restaurant Le Ciel (“the sky”) and sleekly sophisticated Japanese restaurant Unkai (“sea of clouds”) are unique eateries that showcases each of the culinary team’s modern techniques and memorable flavors. In addition, the Grand Café is a traditional Viennese establishment offering extensive breakfast selections, Viennese specialties and mouthwatering patisseries.
When to go: Between May and September, when the temperatures are around the mid-60s and mid-80s.
Famous former residents: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Johann Strauss
What to see: Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Belvedere Palace and Museum, St. Stephen’s Cathedral