Central Neighbourhood Spot With Good Flow
Another August day settles as I follow the ‘homecomers’ on their way back from work and shopping in the city centre. While the visitors turn around the busy corners to rest their heads I’m getting out of the buzzing first district into one of Vienna’s top adjacent residential neighbourhoods, the Servitenquarter.
After-work joggers hop down Strudlhofstiege, a romantic Art Nouveau staircase that rose to fame in Austrian literature. Urban professionals walk their dogs as I pass a curious mixture of traditional Viennese taverns, a vintage haberdashery, the local French Lycée, an upmarket patisserie and a shoe shop, a trendy bistro and the Italian at the corner. At 10 minutes’ walk from the centre, Vienna’s 9th district boasts a residential lifestyle that is popular with senior professionals, business owners, students, and the local French community, naturellement.
My hotel sticks out from the neat row of fin-de-siècle townhouses of quiet Harmoniegasse. Few people know that these townhouses were the first work of Austrian architect Otto Wagner, who later created many of Vienna’s signature Art Nouveau buildings. Sigmund Freud’s former apartment and practice, now turned museum, is two streets from here.
Luscious green climbers flow down the hotel’s unusually modern façade. Inside, marble, glass and stone meet modern paintings, traditional white wood panels and soft upholstery. The contemporary setting has a distinctive Viennese touch: baroque shapes, Imperial red, Biedermeier stripes. No fakes, but original Viennese design.
My room is well-sized. The double bed is framed by those white wooden panels that are typical for old Viennese windows. My window goes out to the Lycee’s courtyard with its tall trees and neogothic chapel. The bed is good, soft but not too soft. But what is more important to me is ‘flow’: A great shower and a seamless internet connection. The room’s showerhead matches the size of my head and sends down a stream of warm rain. After that I spend an uninterrupted two hours on the net. I iron up tomorrow’s shirt, zap through the TV channels, prepare myself a cup of decaf, and call it a day.
Breakfast the next morning more than fills the void created by two meagre bananas I had the evening before on my way to Harmonie. I delve into the all-organic buffet and bag three seeded bread rolls that I miss so much back in London. The homemade fruit beignets are warm and fluffy. The open apricot and strawberry jams and honey, and a jar of homemade joghurt topped with mango puree and dried flower leaves make it onto my second plate. Next to me sits a French family, opposite a young and an older couple.
Before I leave, I study a pair of coloured ballet shoes in a vitrine. The points are stained with red paint. A Peruvian artist had ballerinas dip their toes in paint, and then dance on white canvas. It was his unique way to call back the times when Harmonietheater down the street was buzzing with ballet dancers. The results capture the movements in paintings displayed on a few walls….good flow.
Address: Harmoniegasse 5 to 7, A-1090 Vienna
Website and booking information: Hotel Harmonie Vienna
Independent customer reviews and more photos: Click here
Additionally available room categories: Comfort (30 sqm with comfortable seating area); Superior (30 sqm with comfortable sofa); Suite (35 sqm);
Local attractions: Sigmund Freud Museum, Liechtenstein Park, Serviten Church, Pellegrini Chapel, Strudlhofstiege, old Jewish cemetery at Seegasse (oldest cemetery of Vienna);
Tips: book a room on the fourth or fifth floors, which boast excellent views of the Vienna Woods at Kahlenberg and Grinzing; nearby station of tramway D takes you to the Vienna State Opera, Belvedere Palace, and up to the wine taverns of Grinzing;