VIENNA: J OIN THE CIRCUS
A hula hoop, yoga mat and set of juggling balls are standard issue in guestrooms at Vienna’s 25hours Hotel at MuseumsQuartier but, don’t worry, you won’t be obliged to use these unlikely accessories. Taking its decorative cue from the city’s famous Prater amusement park, with its landmark ferris wheel, the theme of this refreshingly different hotel is the circus. Furnishings are colourful, contemporary and playful, with an ambience to match.
The foyer is bright and cheerful, with low-slung sofas amid industrial-style floor lamps, iMacs and a printer for guests’ use, an old-style photo booth and the reception desk. Service is friendly, down-to-earth and efficient. This hotel’s motto is “Come As You Are” and I am checked in by guys wearing T-shirts rather than the usual suited attire. In the lift, a short video is playing, the gist of which is “forget about work” (but expressed in only eight characters).
The bedhead wall in my suite is a fabulous mural featuring ringmaster and performers, including a lion; there’s a squishy antique-leather sofa and a television sits atop three old-fashioned suitcases. The bed is seductively comfy, with down-filled duvet, feather pillows and topquality linen. White timber cupboards conceal wardrobe space and a kitchenette, complete with Nespresso machine and herbal teas. Shelves above a white desk hold a couple of art books, iPod dock and those juggling balls. It’s like walking into someone’s studio apartment rather than a hotel room, but make that an apartment with all the amenities expected of a multi-starred establishment.
The ensuite is white and spacious, with enough lights around the long rectangular mirror to satisfy even the most fastidious diva. The toiletries, in refillable bottles, are from the Stop the Water While Using Me range, made with natural essential oils and containing no synthetic fragrance, colouring, preservatives or parabens. It’s one way of showing that ecological awareness and luxury are not mutually exclusive. The hotel also supports Viva Con Agua’s Nepal Water Project.
Back to the luxe. Take full advantage of the buffet breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, 1500 Foodmakers, and you’ll be set up for a day of sightseeing. Delicious muesli and fresh fruit, salmon and smoked fish, eggs and meats and a wide selection of breads are among the offerings. The eclectic decor is inspired by cool New York eateries.
In the evening, 1500 Foodmakers becomes an Italian restaurant and bar. Pizza dominates the menu but I can vouch for the starter of calamari with beetroot and fennel and the pasta with pancetta, passata and cherry peppers. Despite the myriad eating options in Vienna, I dine here because it is really (and rightly) popular with locals, which makes bookings essential.
Also popular with locals is the newly refurbished Dachboden rooftop bar on the 8th floor. At weekends it’s positively buzzing; at any time it has fabulous panoramic views of the city. Take the lift to the hotel’s lowest floor and you’ll find the Mermaid’s Cave, a spa with sauna and steamroom.
As its name implies, the hotel is in the Museum Quarter. Five minutes away is the Volkstheater U-Bahn station; a short stroll — or a short spin, for those who borrow one of the complimentary bikes — sees me at St Stephen’s Cathedral and surrounded by the elegant city’s manifold attractions. All this, and I can run back home to the circus.
Guestroom with circus decor in the 25hours Hotel, above; rooftop bar, top left; quirky hotel lobby, top right