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.