Turn-of-the-century Parisian chic is given a modern Viennese swirl at Hotel Motto: think tile-and-parquet floors, polished brass fittings, Arts-and-Crafts fabrics and ostentatious chandeliers (sourced from the Paris Ritz, no less). There’s an onsite bakery, Motto Brot, an aromatic wood-panelled wonderland serving up sourdoughs, petite patisseries and voluptuous Viennese specialities. Grab a slice (or two) of the famous local sachertorte (dripping with chocolate and apricot jam) and head back to your room, where the addition of a sparkling minibar and cocktail-making kit makes for decadent elevenses that could last all day…and night.
Double rooms from £146.79 (€169), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast, but there is an à la carte breakfast menu in the mornings at Chez Bernard.
At the hotel
Restaurant and rooftop bar. Sauna, steam room and gym. Free WiFi. In-rooms: flatscreen TV, vintage Roberts radio, minibar with cocktail-making facilities, coffee machine, organic Saint Charles toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Polished parquet floors, gleaming Art Nouveau mirrors, tasselled lampshades and teal, scarlet and moss-green fabrics lend an air of mid-century opulence in all of the bedrooms. But if you really want to vamp it up in Vienna, opt for a Junior Suite, where you can sip your evening negroni when soaking in the freestanding roll-top bath tub or while admiring the views from your balcony. Heck, why not do both? These spacious suites have separate kitchenette and seating areas, too.
Coated in calming pink tiles, Hotel Motto's 65-square-metre spa is decked out with a relaxation room, sauna and steam bath. There's also a gym (open from 7am to 10pm) with a WaterRower, treadmill, weight bench and yoga mats – you're also welcome to book on to one of the CrossFit, boxing or yoga classes.
Go full immersion mode by settling into an atmospheric Viennese coffee house and tearing into one of Stefan Zweig's electrifying Jazz Age novellas.
More than 80 per cent of Hotel Motto has been built in tandem with regional craftsmen and companies, and the hotel continues this sustainable work within day-to-day operations. All cleaning is done with re-fill ready products and disinfectants produced by St. Charles Pharmacy, whose organic amenities you'll find each bathroom. Energy wise, Motto works with renewables and other energy-saving resources like district-connection heating (80 per cent biomass and co2 neutral). In rooms, you’ll find sensor-controlled windows and electrics with automatic shut-down as well as individual heating and air-conditioning. You'll find no plastic packaging in the minibar, though you may find a bottle or two of the local craft beer, Brewdi, made from the stale bread of the hotel’s in-house bakery. What’s more, restaurant Chez Bernard uses organic, regional ingredients wherever possible.
Views from the upper section make this the more desirable seating area, but downstairs is no slouch either, with smart banquette seating, a sleek bar and lush vegetation as far as the eye can see.
Specialising in contemporary Austrian cuisine with French and North African influences, Chez Bernard is a beautiful, buzzy space that’s spread across the top two floors. It’s chock-full of greenery and bathed in natural light that streams in from the impressive new dome that caps the hotel. Guests can get breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between right here, but make sure you book in advance.
Those with a head for heights, a penchant for expertly mixed cocktails and an ear for a well-curated playlist should head for the rooftop bar, with views across the city to landmarks including St Stephen’s Cathedral and beyond – even as far as the vineyards. Parisian and Viennese DJs provide the musical accompaniment until 1am.
Breakfast is served from 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends. Nightowls rejoice: the bar stays open until 1am.
Hotel Motto cuts a debonair figure on Mariahilfer Strasse, its imposing Baroque white facade overlooking Vienna’s colourful cavalcade of consumerism and cute cafés, just a couple of subway stops – or a 20-minute stroll – from the city centre.
Vienna International Airport lies 11 miles from the hotel and connects to the city centre via regular (and reliable) bus and train services. From there, a short subway hop delivers you to Neubaugasse U-Bahn station right on the hotel’s doorstep. Should you wish to avoid the (minimal) hassle of Vienna’s excellent public transport system, a cab will set you back €35-40.
Vienna’s sleek Hauptbahnhof provides the sky-shy traveller with several scenic routes in and out of the city from major international hubs including Budapest, Berlin and Belgrade. Hotel Motto can then be reached via subway, bus and taxi.
The hotel is on a pedestrianised street, so you’re advised to contact staff in advance if you wish to avoid an awkward scene with angry shoppers when you pull up in your ride. Secure parking is available nearby at a cost of around €20 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Hotel Motto is on Mariahilfer Strasse: a pedestrianised parade of international brands that spans a wallet-emptying mile or so. But the more discerning patron may be drawn to quieter, boutique-filled side streets like Neubaugasse and Kirchengasse where one-of-a-kind antiques, artworks, hats and handbags make for a more edifying consumer experience.
aIf you’re still not quite done with browsing, Vienna’s Christmas market season kicks off mid-November and runs right up to the big day. Nothing quite beats the heady scents of gingerbread and mulled wine while browsing for festive trinkets under thousands of sparkling fairy lights.
Romantics should head for The Belvedere. This grand Baroque confection is famed for its kaleidoscopic collection of Austrian art, boasting more Klimt pieces than any other museum on the planet. There’s even a dedicated (and always crowded) selfie room with a reproduction painting of The Kiss, meaning you’re far more likely to get an uninterrupted view of the real thing.
Set in Vienna’s sprawling Stadpark, a huge city-centre green space dotted with statues and pavilions, intimate Steirereck Restaurant is a gourmand’s dream come true. Adventurous Austrian dishes like veal kidney with new potato and seabuckthorn are served behind its futuristic mirrored facade, with many fresh ingredients coming from the sizeable herb garden. Its two Michelin stars are not without merit.
If you’re going to try authentic schnitzel in Vienna (and quite honestly why wouldn’t you?) then a schnitzel specialist is your best chance of avoiding diner’s regret. Step forward Schnitzelwirt, a laidback Viennese institution of 35 years standing, located on nearby Neubaugasse. Portions of their thin, crispy schnitzels (and indeed all other dishes) are gargantuan, so avoid a big lunch if you don’t wish to be schnitzel-shamed in the evening.
The tale of Café Sacher and The Demel’s bitter rivalry over the sweet stuff is engrained in Viennese legend. Their centuries-old ‘cake war’ over which could rightly lay claim to the origins of sachertorte – that delectable ganache-covered chocolate confection – was won (legally) by the former back in the 1960s. Even so, the dispute rumbles on, ensuring that visitors’ stomachs do not. Cake connoisseurs must of course make up their own minds as to the superiority of one or the other. By trying both.
On Franziskanerplatz near the river is Kleines Café, the diminutive size of which is considered a selling point rather than a drawback by discerning locals. Bohemian in style, it has only seven or eight tables, with wooden chairs, a deliberately rustic feel and an excellent line in traditional Viennese coffees.
A firm favourite with in-the-know locals, Krypt, as its name might suggest, is a subterranean stalwart of the Vienna cocktail scene. Its tiny staircase is much easier to negotiate on the descent than after you’ve seen away umpteen cocktails in its smart vaulted cellar. Fruit and vegetables play a starring role in Krypt’s unusual but highly moreish concoctions, from Pineapple Express to Carrot Daquiri, the latter of which may aid your vision in the atmospherically lit booths, but will do nothing for your sense of balance.
A day of studious culture-seeking should always be rewarded with light refreshment. Rooftop hangout Der Dachboden at the Twenty Five Hours Hotel is handily located in the Museums District and serves up a strong selection of Austrian wines alongside cocktails, bar snacks and some of the best views in town.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Twenties-style bolthole in Vienna’s shopping district and unpacked their flapper skirts and boutique-shop booty a full account of their city adventure will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hotel Motto in Vienna…
The Hotel Motto building has housed hotels since the 17th century. The first, which opened in 1665, is even said to have played host to members of the Strauss family, Vienna’s celebrated composing dynasty. Waltz through the years to its current incarnation in the bustling shopping district, and you’ll find lots – and very little – has changed. Old-fashioned service and touches like serving carts and golden lamps retain the feel of a bygone era, while a gleaming new dome rises proudly above the buzzing bar and restaurant on the upper floors, where views across the city and beyond are some of the finest in Vienna.
Baroque and neo-classical stylings recur throughout the building’s architecture from the preserved facade to the opulent spiral staircase that rises loftily to the 7th floor (don’t look down!), but rooms are pure mid-century chic, a welcome 1920s Parisian throwback with period furnishings, polished parquet floors and that all-important cocktail-making kit. Ooh la la.