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Vienna's stylish hotel boom
From rental Vespas to pools with underwater music, Vienna is showing the world how to build hip hotels
The City of Music is experiencing a hotel renaissance.
With the 150th anniversary of Vienna painter Gustav Klimt’s birthday celebrated with numerous events last year, Vienna saw record numbers of tourists. With the number of overnight stays rising 7.5 percent in 2012 and more growth projected, hotels in Austria's capital have been busy keeping up with the demand.
But it's not just that there a lot of new properties in Vienna. The best ones have a fresh vibe and style, with lots of unexpected options.
Here are eight that are leading the way.
Hotel Daniel Vienna
At Hotel Daniel Vienna, creative touches include an Erwin Wurm boat sculpture hanging over the roof and an urban garden, where seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs (tomatoes, grapes, pumpkins, strawberries) grow in manicured beds. Guests are welcome to pick their own to snack on.
Breakfast in the Scandinavian-chic dining room is a highlight, with fresh pastries served alongside plates such as fig and pecorino salad drizzled with honey from the hotel’s rooftop beehive.
The 116 rooms are all slightly different -- some come with walnut-lined walls, others with hammocks or dazzling views of the Schloss Belvedere, a short walk away.
Nostalgics may want to book the silver 1952 Airstream trailer in the garden, fitted with a foldout bed and freestanding bathroom.
The hotel even rents out bicycles and Vespas.
Landstraßer Gürtel 5, Vienna; +43 1 901 310; from €77 (US$103) per night; www.hoteldaniel.com
25hours Hotel Wien
Once a student hostel, this whimsical hotel has a circus theme: playful murals of big tops color the walls while juggling balls are provided for guests' amusement.
Three new glass-covered floors top the original six-story building -- the 34 rooms on the original floors are already welcoming guests while the newer floors are due to open in March.
The views are amazing, showing a Gothic church, particularly beguiling at night, the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Two Ringmaster Suites look out over the Vienna Woods and the cool Seventh District that the hotel calls home.
We also like the private terrace and slick, all-black kitchen.
Lerchenfelder Strasse 1-3, Vienna; +43 1 521 510; from €113 (US$151) per night; www.25hours-hotels.com
At Urbanauts, former shops and disused workshops are transformed into hotel rooms at ground level.
The pilot loft space, Die Schneiderin, was once a tailor’s shop and now comes fitted with Wi-Fi and mini-bar snacks included, a good selection of DVDs and magazines, Viennese Saint Charles bathroom amenities and two bicycles.
Guests enter a code to get into the room and are welcomed with a note (written on an old typewriter, nonetheless) and map offering a thoughtful selection of neighborhood recommendations for eating and shopping.
Ten new street lofts are set to open in coming months.
Favoritenstraße 17/3-5, Vienna; +43 1 500 0000; from €119 (US$159) per night; www.urbanauts.at
The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna
Occupying four historic 19th-century buildings on the city’s Ringstrasseboulevard, the Ritz-Carlton group’s flagship hotel in Austria has old European glamour, but with modern details.
The pick of the 202 rooms are the Club Suites, which come with views of the city or a leafy courtyard. They also have marbled bathrooms, Aqua di Parma amenities, feather beds, Nespresso machines, Bang & Olufsen appliances and private terraces.
The Presidential Suite has restored ceiling frescoes, a library, open fireplace and 3D TVs.
Other cool details: a steel pool with underwater music piped in, the country’s first Guerlain Spa, a restaurant dedicated to mod-Austrian fare and wines and a rooftop bar with gorgeous views of the city.
Schubertring 5, Vienna; +43 1 31 188; rooms from US$431; www.ritzcarlton.com
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A member of the Design Hotels group, this cutting-edge property comes with just 32 rooms and suites, each borrowing details from 1930s Hollywood.
Located in Vienna’s UNESCO-listed Innere Stadt, or First District, it's surrounded by museums, galleries and coffeehouses.
The hotel is an earthy collage of brown marble, high-gloss wood, art deco-inspired fixtures and brass detailing with sassy splashes of color in artwork as well as velvet and leather furniture.
The restaurant, Bloom, serves organic Austrian fare alongside hotel owner Martin Lenikus’ own brand of eco-friendly wines. The rooftop garden has great views of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Rotenturmstrasse 15, Vienna; +43 1 532 2240; from €132 (US$177) per night; hotellamee.com
Hotel Sans Souci Wien
The newly opened Sans Souci Wien hired Yoo (the design firm backed by the likes of Philippe Starck and Jade Jagger) to decorate its rooms and residences with original artwork by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Allen Jones, Picasso and James Rizzi.
The focus on design is apparent in the mural mirrors and photo art by Hubertus von Hohenlohe and designer furniture by Charles Eames and Arne Jacobsen Egg.
There’s a slightly dated but fun “pimp your stay” option for a romantic bedroom setup with rose petals or champagne tasting at the bar.
Museumstraße 1, Vienna; +43 1 522 2520; rooms start at US$238; www.sanssouci-wien.com
Palais Hansen Kempinski
Set to open in March 2013 in a handsome neo-Renaissance building, the Kempinski was originally constructed for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873.
The Danube and St. Stephen’s Cathedral are just steps from the hotel and there’s a wonderful aroma of Viennese coffee and cakes in the lobby and the scent of Cohibas in the Cigar Lounge.
The wellness center takes its inspiration from the Ottoman Empire, with a range of saunas, spas, pools and steam baths.
Schottenring 24, Vienna; +43 1 236 1000; from €263 (US$350) per night; www.kempinski.com
Park Hyatt Vienna
Opening in 2013, the first Hyatt branded property in Austria occupies an historic building on Am Hof, one of the largest squares in Vienna’s First District.
Architects Neumann + Partner converted the former Länderbank headquarters into the luxury hotel, while FG Stijl -- the creative force behind Amsterdam’s award-winning The College Hotel -- has been commissioned to design the 143 rooms, including 35 suites and a 700-square-meter penthouse.
Rates to be announced; vienna.park.hyatt.com