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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Discover the Contemporary Side of Vienna

The city of opera and imperial grandeur is moving into the future with design-driven urban projects, a growing young art scene, and restaurants venturing far beyond tafelspitz.

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1. Where to Stay

View Vienna from your own personal porthole at Hotel Topazz.  

Live like a local at any of the three city lofts from Urbanauts (from $165), a hospitality concept launched in 2012 in Vienna’s gallery-packed fourth district. The model veers away from the typical hotel setup, where everything you need is inside one building. Instead, you’ll get two bikes at check-in, plus a paper neighborhood guide to acquaint you with your new surroundings, including breakfast spots and the nearest hammam. All three properties are located within walking distance of the neighborhood’s highlights, like the historic Belvedere palace complex, and are outfitted with graphic bath tiles from Italy, bath products from Saint Charles Pharmacy (one of Urbanauts’s “fellows,” revitalizing culture around town), and pared-down furniture the founders designed in partnership with local carpenters.

Stay in the thick of things at ecofriendly Hotel Topazz (from $260), a couple of blocks away from the iconic St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna’s Old Town. The 33-room boutique’s porthole-covered façade fronts sleek yet eccentric rooms where dark-wood paneling accents patterned wallpaper and fur-trimmed bedside lamps. Ask for any of the rooms whose number ends with a three (23 to 83); these have two of those porthole windows with curved, cushioned seats offering an ideal people-watching perch over busy Rotenturmstraße. Stop by the ground-floor salon in the late afternoon—free snacks, like apple strudel, are offered throughout the day.

Seek refuge at the Guesthouse (from $235), a homey new spot in the busy first district, across a small square from the renowned Albertina museum. Designed by Brit Terence Conran, the spacious rooms (most with walk-in closets) feel like free-standing, contemporary apartments, with colorful area rugs, sculptural leather armchairs, and massive bay windows. Start the day with a slice of poppy-seed challah ($1.25) or a croissant ($2.30) at the hotel’s on-site brasserie and bakery, where the fresh-baked breads come courtesy of award-winning Gragger & Cie, and be sure to order a cup of mélange ($6), Austrians’ take on the cappuccino, featuring the Guesthouse roast, exclusively developed for the hotel by old-school Viennese roaster Naber.

Published on Jun 26, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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