A hipster’s homage to history at Ruby Sofie
In a modern and calm area, close to the city center and to metro and tram stations, Ruby Sofie’s façade sticks out, dominating the scene. The hotel has been open since 2014 and manages to incorporate the colorful history of the building into a modern no-nonsense hotel philosophy.
Built in 1838, the Sofiensäle were first Russian steam baths, then the building housed swimming pools. In the early 20th century it was the venue where the first “talkie” was shown. In 1950s, it was one of the most famous places for recording music. After being a much-loved party location for the thriving electro music scene, in 2001, it burned to the ground. After ten years, the spectacular hall was revived and is now visible from Ruby Sofie’s lounge windows.
It’s an unlikely entrance for a hotel, especially considering the view as you push through the front door and see the majestic interior. In front of you is a John Harris gym, hi-tech and sophisticated. On the left and right, two solemn staircases, red carpets and glittering chandeliers evoke dreams of an older era, when such places hosted aristocratic families, royal balls and concerts. Proceeding up the right-hand steps, you reach Ruby’s hall. Here dark and light, old and new, innovation and tradition co-exist and manage to combine grand cascading moldings with high-power free Wi-Fi. You feel like you’re in a vortex, experiencing multiple époques, feelings and perspectives. The technology at the check-in takes you back into the real world. The check-in is do-it-yourself, so you enter your name, select your room and your key card comes out below. You swivel around to go the lift and you’re back in the 1920s with speckles of mid-century modern and 70s accents spread throughout the lounge room.
Upstairs you find a gallery floor spanning the walls, overlooking the lobby. The music from their in-house radio station is clearer up here. A lounge space in the middle resembles a startup co-working space and has a couple of leather armchairs, flowers, pictures, bookshelves as well as iMacs that the guests are free to use. The design is permeated with tiny details, which invite guests to sit and linger.
Reaching the room is an adventure. It’s like unwrapping a present.. The corridors are the room’s wrapping paper. There you are, in front of your room’s door, you start opening it and, out of the room pours a woody essence that envelops you. The scent of pine, and the brown and white paint give the room elegance and light, tradition and innovation. The present-past combination is visible here as well. A large LCD television is across from an old-leather armchair. A Marshall concert speaker, which you can plug into your phone or the in-room tablet, sits atop ivory-colored hard-wood flooring. The attractive king size bed beckons to you. When you plunge into it you see the abode from another perspective, seeing the whole room, which includes a huge rain-shower with transparent glass and a pearl-white curtain, which you can unroll, or not. You feel protected in the room it feels of complete, secure; perhaps it’s the mirror that, hanging on the door, making the outside world disappear.
The hotel has no spa, fitness area, or restaurant, although the 24-hour bar at the entrance provides guests with Italian aperitifs and a rich organic breakfast in the morning. But everything’s available. Ruby Sofie shares a building with a John Harris gym, with special prices for hotel guests, and The Room, a sophisticated bar and restaurant. This way, the hotel can keep prices low but still offer a complete package. With all the activities and dining opportunities in Vienna, you might only need the hotel for sleeping.
The Verdict: Combining artsy typography with a DIY check-in philosophy, Ruby Sofie manages to give their guests no more than just what they want. A good choice for hipsters on a budget.
Ruby Sofie – Click here