48 Hours In | Vienna
Where baroque meets modernism and LA facial treatments meet Caravaggio
When people think of Vienna, the first thing that comes to mind is usually wiener schnitzel, Mozart and opera houses. Aside from those imperialistic Viennese traditions, Vienna has far more than meets the eye.
Apart from its gilded and kinda kitschy parts, the city still holds a place in the birth of modernism and has been home to some of the world’s greatest architects like Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, as well as iconic artists from Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Kokoshka to Richard Gertsl and Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch and the Viennese Actionists.
Flights are cheap; it’s two hours from London, so here’s how to do Vienna in 48 hours.
Spend a day and night at Hotel Sacher
With the money saved from the flight, invest in a good hotel. Central European hotel rooms are notoriously small. Sacher is the best of the best in Vienna, It’s situated directly opposite the opera house and has all the plush red velvet ridiculousness you’d expect from a 5 star hotel in the home of baroque.
Not one chandelier spared. It’s a sexy hotel, so either take yourself on a honeymoon (if you’re single) or go with a partner preferably. Be sure to book yourself into the top floor spa, there’s Mirò’s in the bathroom, two Finnish saunas and an ice shower. Get the ‘time to chocolate’ treatment, it’s their signature cacao infused massage/scrub. Take your phone – the outline of your chocolate covered body on the bed is definitely Instagram worthy.
Visit the imperial crypt
In the burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church lie the bones of 145 Habsrburg royalty, with urns containing the hearts of emperors and empresses lining the room. The are over 107 metal sarcophagi varying from puritanical plain to OTT rococo. A bit morbid but definitely worth checking out.
Spend a few hours at MUMOK
Built by Austrian architects Ortner & Ortner, Mumok is situated right in the Museums Quartier. With a 10,000 piece collection of modern and contemporary art, MUMOK is where Vienna really flexes its art finesse. The latest exhibition, entitled Body, Mind and Taboo is excellent.
Spread across the top two floors of the museum, it’s an exploration into the controversial work of the Viennese actionists. Stemming from the masturbatory sketches of Klimt and Schiele to Otto Muehl’s masterpiece film Back to Fucking Cambridge.
Get a Schiele and Klimt overload at the Leopold Museum
Walk over to the neighbouring Leopold Museum, which was created to house the body of works collected by Austrian mega-collector Rudolf Leopold. The museum is home to the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection. You can’t visit Vienna and not stop by.
Get a hydrafacial at Kempinski
The spa at the Kempinski hotel is like a micro-eden in the midst of the city. With three relaxation rooms, two saunas, two steam rooms and a hydro-pool, you can easily waste hours away in the womb-like facilities. Their signature treatment is the Hydrafacial – it’s like the Rolls Royce of facials, basically. Very popular in LA.
A small vacuum removes clogged pores and dead skin cells, then a small layer of acid is applied to the skin (yes, it’s a medical treatment, don’t be scared) then a layer of collagen infused moisturiser is massaged onto the skin. Once the treatment is done, ask to see what they withdrew with the vacuum. Your skin will feel like a newborn baby’s.
Grab a drink at Loos Bar
Designed by Adolf Loos, this bar served as the backdrop for a Gucci commercial and in its heyday was as a haven for travelling intellectuals like Jean Cocteau and Orson Welles. Today, Tarantino has been known to perch up at the bar stools, and when you step inside it’s hardly surprising.
From the mahogany lined counter, onyx tiles and marble floors, the angular booths and banquettes scream Czech cubism and Viennese Kineticism. It’s a great spot in the centre, if you’re with a few people head down early to secure a table, the place gets packed way too early.
Vienna’s answer to the National Gallery is an overload of marble, stucco and gold-leaf, it’s worth going just for the interiors, let alone the artworks. Start at the picture gallery on the top floor and get lost in rooms of stacked masterpieces like Velázquez, Rubens, Rembrandt and Raphael and save yourself for the Caravaggio room.
Fritz Wortuba’s Brutalist Church
This incredible 70s church looks like an early Picasso and is situated on the outskirts of Vienna. Designed by famed sculptor Fritz Wotruba, it’s worth the 45 minute journey to go see this brutalist beauty. Although the outside is stark and intense, it’s sculpted in a way that the inside is doused in nothing but pure light. Go meditate.
Rooms at The Grand Ferdinand Hotel start at £120 per night.