VI­ENNA: J OIN THE CIR­CUS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - Carrie Kablean

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

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