Capital Of Charm, Capital Of An Empire

A pink Männer fiaker brightens a tourist’s day

Hotel de France and Vienna de Austria Await You

Fairy tales notwithstanding, it’s difficult to imagine a more enchanting city than Vienna. With an architectural legacy that surpasses that of Paris in grandeur (oooh, did I really say that?), Vienna’s labyrinth of wedding-cake buildings tantalise the visitor with their magnificence. Not all of it is Baroque; while that style is delightfully prevalent, Vienna’s Ring is reminiscent of those miniature-cities parks so popular for the kiddies, except this is a full-scale architectural park with everything from neo-Classical to avant-garde represented. Of course, if you prefer Baroque ’til you croak, there are the excesses of Belvedere Palace and Schönbrunn Palace to sate even the most extreme addictions to overdecoration.

Eyes for you at Dorotheum, Vienna’s famous auction house where absolutely everything is for sale

I have long trumpeted the glories of Vienna, and am only too happy to do so again. This is one city that needs no reason to visit; Vienna is fantastic anytime of year, even in the depths of a Central European winter when the arts are at their peak. There are still a few months to go until that time of the year; in the meantime, the wonderful autumn season is just about to begin. The Vienna Tourism website is always full of helpful hints for enjoying the latest and greatest events and happenings in this grandest of capitals. Noticeable in Vienna is just how much fun the locals have—always a barometer of the quality of life for visitors. Noticeable too is the number of young people who are able to eat out and partake of the city’s cultural offerings.

a Hotel de France suite living room—big enough for a party

In the meantime, enjoy the lingering summer while you can. With so many unusual museums, even a rainy day can be fun. Of these quirky Viennese haunts, my favourites are the Esperanto Museum (call me a hopeless Utopian), the Globe Museum (call me a citizen of the world), and the Funeral Museum (call me morbidly fascinated by reusable, false-bottomed coffins). The Kunsthalle, part of the imposing Museumsquartier complex whose Leopold Museum is home to the fascinating paintings of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, just hosted an exhibit called The Porn Identity, which presented, among other things, a series of films catering to all proclivities shown among stationary works of fetishist art. Somehow, I don’t ever see this exhibit coming to Australia, and it was refreshing to see guided tours being led through the exhibit as if just another set of Monets hanging on the wall. Austria is good that way.

Prunksaal, Vienna’s imperial library

Almost all of Vienna’s five-star hotels are found along the southern and eastern parts of The Ring, but the recently renovated Hotel de France is located on Schottenring, on the western side of the historic city centre. A stalwart on the Vienna hotel scene for decades, Hotel de France offers guests enormous suites while they are in house and a convenient location when they step out. The one-bedroom corner suite with views of the tree-lined Ring is very spacious and more like a private apartment than a hotel room; a separate entry hall always adds an air of grandeur and volume to the accommodation, as if the big living room needed help to convey the luxury of space. Unique here are the townhouse-style accommodations—the Hotel’s maisonettes—classified as junior suites though they are as big as other hotel’s suites.

Hotel de France’s location is one of the hotel’s best assets; it’s a straight line down Schottengasse and Herrengasse, past the beautiful Palais Kinsky and Palais Ferstel to the Hofburg. The excellent Vienna metro (Schottentor stop) is just out the door, as are the trams that are so much a part of the Vienna experience.

The Austrian Parliament was built to honour the Greek foundations of democracy
For more information in Australia and New Zealand, the lovely ladies at the Austrian National Tourist Office in Sydney are happy to assist. In other locations, find your closest ANTO here.
Source = Mr. eTraveller
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