A Vienna Waltz

Trish Clark's picture

They say that music nourishes the soul and what better place to stir the spirit than Vienna where the genius of Strauss, Mozart, and Beethoven can be heard all over the city – and especially at Christmas time when the snow is on the ground, the trees are decorated and the Christkindl markets are in full swing and doing a brisk trade in Christmas knick-knacks, hot chestnuts and Christmas cheer as eager customers revel in the winter ambience.

Come New Year, visitors to Vienna will be able to welcome in the new year at the grandest ball in all Austria, the Imperial Ball (Kaiserball) which is held in the ancient and ever elegant Hofburg Imperial Palace, the former home of the country’s Emperors and Empresses.  The ball is hosted by the ‘Imperial Couple’ and broadcast live on television to an international audience.

Kaiser Ball

Kaiser Ball - Dining Room, Hofburg. Photo courtesy hofburg.com

If you left your dancing shoes at home you could catch the Neujahrskonzert (New Year’s Concert) held in the Wiener Musikverein concert hall, instead. More beautiful music can be heard in the Burgkapelle, the Gothic chapel at the Hofburg, on Sunday morning when the Vienna Boy’s Choir perform during the 0915 Mass (whenever they are in town). However, if you are in the mood for some shopping, bargain priced European labels can be found at the Leoville Factory Outlet in Leobersdorf is a mere 30-minute train trip south of Vienna.  The train departs from Vienna’s Maidling or Südanbahnhof stations.

The sophisticated and old world Hotel Bristol, one of Vienna’s most historic, is located within the Ringstraße, the broad, tree-lined boulevard which links to the river Danube, neatly surrounding  Vienna’s spectacularly beautiful ‘old town’. The road was built by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1857 in preference to city walls. The Bristol was a favourite haunt of Austrian (and English) royalty and today mere commoners can reserve the appropriately named Prince of Wales Suite, where Prince Edward of England sojourned with his American companion and later bride, Wallis Simpson. Nothing has changed and guests – commoners et al - still get treated like royalty. The hotel is equipped with every modern comfort and luxury and stands on an exclusive corner of the Ringstraße, opposite the majestic Vienna State Opera House and near the Kärntnerstrasse train station. The hotel is within easy walking distance of the Spanish Riding School, the Hofburg, St Stephen’s Cathedral and the gorgeous shops and iconic coffeehouses of old Vienna.

From around €300.00 per room per night                                                                                                               

Hotel Bristol, Kärntner Ring 1, Vienna.                                                                      


Hotel Bristol

Hotel Bristol, Prince of W

Hotel Bristol

Hotel Bristol photos courtesy of the Hotel Bristol

As well as beautiful music, the Viennese have a well-known penchant for chocolate and pastries, and cafe windows are chock-full of elaborate tiers of exquisite, sugary, mouth-watering Viennese sweets. The choice of cafes seems endless and all seem to have a story to tell. Coffee and cake (kaffee und kuchen) can be enjoyed at the Cafe Central on the corner of Herrengasse and Strauchgasse, where a young Adolf Hitler touted his paintings to guests during his time at art school.

Vienna Cafe Central

Vienna, Cafe Central. Photo courtesy Cafe Central

Cafe Mozart  in Albertinaplatz, was  a favourite of English author Graham Green and featured in the movie The Third Man starring American actor Orson Welles (1915—1985). Cafe Demel, at Kohlmarkt 14 was the official supplier of cakes and confectionary to the former royal court. Cafe Diglas in Fleischmakrt has been run by the same family for almost 150 years and the entertaining, afternoon piano recital (classical, of course) is reason enough to call in.

Vienna, Cafe Diglas

Vienna, Cafe Diglas. Photo courtesy Cafe Diglas

However, the city’s culinary claim to fame could be the rich, Viennese chocolate cake, the Sacher-Torte, which is served in the Cafe Sacher in the Hotel Sacher, where this delicacy was invented in 1832.

Sacher Torte

Original Sacher Torte. Photo courtesy Hotel Sacher

The Hotel Sacher is a small, luxurious, five star hotel located in the centre of Vienna. Former guests include former American president John F Kennedy, actors Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett and Jamie Lee Curtis and tennis players Boris Becker and Tommy Haas.

From around €400.00 per room per night including breakfast. Packages available.                                                         

Hotel Sacher, Philharmoniker Strasse 4, Vienna                                                                            


Hotel Sacher

Hotel Sacher

Hotel Sacher

Photos courtesy Hotel Sacher.

The Mariahilfer Straße is the busy, main shopping street of Vienna and is located outside the Old Town but within walking distance of the Spanish Riding School, the Hofburg, the Opera House and St Stephen’s Cathedral. The street is lined with small hotels, speciality shops and department stores including C & A, Zara and Olsen, all of which are cheaper than those located within the Ringstrasse.

The three star Fürst Metternich Hotel is situated in a small street running off this bustling boulevard and is a good choice of accommodation for those of us who don’t have a Hollywood movie or tennis star’s income. The hotel offers single, double/twin and triple rooms all of which have an ensuite bathroom with a hairdryer provided. An elevator services all floors. Breakfast is available and Barfly’s American Bar is open until late each night.  The hotel is situated near the underground station U3 (Zieglergasse) and a public (pay) underground parking station is nearby.
Rates from €75-170.00 per night. Breakfast €11.00                                                                                           

Fürst Metternich Hotel Esterhazygasse 33,Vienna                                                                   

Fürst Metternich Hotel, Vienna

Fürst Metternich Hotel, Vienna

Fürst Metternich Hotel, Vienna

Photos courtesy Fürst Metternich Hotel

The Austrian National Tourist Office can provide tourist and travel information to all destinations in Austria.  www.austria.info


Trish Clark is author of Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe, Vols I and II, both published by Hidden Spring, an imprint of Paulist Press NJ. She writes a monthly column for wanderingeducators.com as the European Accommodation Editor. You can find her at http://goodnightandgodbless.com/

Good Night and God Bless


Note: originally published in 2009, updated in 2017