Playing host at The Guesthouse
“For guests, arriving here should feel just like coming home”, Gabi Rosner, rooms division manager of The Guesthouse explained to us as we embarked on our guided tour through the building. The student-hostel-turned-luxury-hotel is located just opposite the Albertina museum and the State Opera, prime placement in Vienna’s first district. Rosner told us the Guesthouse concept doesn’t really apply to the established system of hotel rating, as they deliberately go without conventional amenities like a fitness center or a swimming pool. We decided to take the plunge and give it our own assessment.
Entering one of the 39 rooms of the Guesthouse doesn’t have much of the typical hotel feel to it. There’s this atmosphere that the rooms are full of life and have a story to them. It’s a clever interplay of livable design and an inherent love for detail. Upon arriving for example, every guest finds a personal handwritten welcome note from the hotel director and a pleasant woody scent. In the bathroom, handmade organic soaps and Molton Brown toiletries await to pamper their new owner. On the counter, an espresso machine equipped with a special roast by Viennese coffee pioneers Naber, which we feel should be a requirement in all urban hotel rooms.
The Guesthouse offers four different room categories, all of which are doubles. Each room is equipped with a minibar, a wine fridge, a Bang & Olufsen TV and audio set as well as a safe with a socket and a large wardrobe. There is also an elegant and comfy sitting area that could easily become the venue for a cozy evening with friends. The hotel actually prides itself on encouraging guests to invite friends and acquaintances up to their rooms, so they can enjoy the beautiful view of the opera with company and a bottle of wine. In fact, four bottles, as well as beer and soft drinks are included in the room price and if the guest’s guest is a romantic interest there are always the self-branded The Guesthouse condoms in the bedside table. When I ask Ms. Rosner, how often security or the police have to stop escalating get-togethers, she keeps her cool and claims that the only time she remembers the staff having to be a buzz-kill was when an inebriated guest wanted to take his nightcap in the hotel bar – stark naked.
My favorite feature of The Guesthouse is the wide window benches you can find in the Deluxe Opera View Rooms and the Maisonette Suite, equipped with cushions, which make for perfect reading and relaxation spots. I can vividly imagine a Woody Allen or Wes Andersen character sitting in them, drinking white wine and reading the English translation of a Wolf Haas novel while observing the crowds in front of the Opera House.
The Guesthouse immerses the visitor in its refined original blend of Viennese heritage and state-of-the-art design. The concept was implemented by the renowned London-based design studio Conran and Partners which assembled an all-star team of Austrian designers to breathe life into the place. They did a great job: there’s the sophisticated Friedrich Kiesler chair, there are the exquisite crafted brass works, like bookends or coat hooks from Vienna’s own metal smith Carl Auböck, and Wolfgang Zajc’s flashy photography depicts scenes of Vienna nightlife in every room. The interior scheme is finished in polished brass, oak, marble and ceramics.
The Bakery and Brasserie
The restaurant of the Guesthouse continues the overall flow of the enterprise: instead of doing the classic luxury thing of providing fancy dishes, it goes for stylish understatement: in cooperation with the traditional bakery Gragger, they bake their own delicious bread and pastries and provide a chic atmosphere reminiscent of the classic Viennese Coffee Houses (without the arrogant waiters though). But of course they do serve proper dinner too, we tried a traditional Wiener Schnitzel, which was spot-on, as well as the three-course winter menu, consisting of an artichoke soup, braised haunch of rabbit and a cocoa-banana dumpling for desert. The menu came very well presented, the soup and dessert tasted great, only the slightly chewy rabbit texture keeps me from wholeheartedly recommending the restaurant.
Verdict: If you’re a sucker for Austrian interior design or want to play host during your visit to Vienna: The Guesthouse, by all means.
The Guesthouse – Click here
+43 (0) 1 5121320