Altstadt Vienna: A Must-See Art Hotel
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When you step into the Altstadt Vienna you immediately feel the impact of its unique vibrance. Simply, it is stunning.
Built in 1902, the hotel building was the palace of an industrialist from the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy who originally used it to showcase his products.
Over the years factory halls were built into the court of the Patrician house, which were eventually reconstructed into lofts and, during the 1950's, the building was used as a boarding house.
In 1991 the current owner, Otto E. Wiesenthal, bought the house and converted it into what is now the Altstadt Vienna offering 42 rooms and suites in addition to long stay apartments spread across five storeys. Wiesenthal’s personal art collection is displayed throughout the hotel. Each hallway differs in style and each room has been individually designed.
Located in the 7th Viennese district, the Spittelberg area which is famous for its artistic flair, the hotel is made special by its daring interior design and the huge art collection that can be admired throughout. With each corridor you turn down, or room you walk into, you are accosted with spectacular design: a dark, sensuous hallway punctuated with retro photography on the way to the cozy salon with an open fireplace; or original parquet floors contrasted with candy-colored walls and furniture.
Original wrought iron balustrades with brightly coloured, geometric stair runner
And there have been quite a few big names that have contributed to the interior of this truly unique hotel: one guest room has a Philippe Starck designed bathroom; there is an original Helnwein along the staircase, and a Prachensky at the front desk. Some of Vienna's numerous museums even enrich the collection by lending artwork to the Altstadt, and Otto E. Wiesenthal himself lives in a suite in the hotel - you may see him straightening the edges of the Alstadt's Warhol-to-Gilbert & George art collection.
As if this was not enough, there are nine new neo-baroque style rooms designed by Italian architect Matteo Thun. With massive chandeliers, dark damask wallpaper, and a framed soft-focus nude pin-up on the ceiling above some of the beds, the Altstadt’s website describes these rooms as having a ‘touch of the erotic’ and they are not wrong.
After spending the day wandering around the museums, art galleries and antiques shops of Vienna all you will want to do is get back to your suite and enjoy a soak in a large freestanding bath while enjoying beautiful contemporary art, well that is, if like us you are staying in Junior Suite 15. With original oak herringbone parquet floors, bright red walls, and dark wooden furniture brought together with accents of olive-green and burgundy, the space has a dramatic impact that still feels warm and cosy.
Leaving the room for breakfast in the morning you are awoken by a lively yellow corridor covered with contemporary art – paintings, photography and sculpture. Actually, it takes you a while to get down to breakfast as it feels more like wandering around a well decorated art gallery as oppose to a hotel. One thing the Alstadt does not have is that ‘chain hotel’ feel.
One of my favourite design aspects of this hotel is that it purposely contrasts its many original decorative features - the parquet floors, the ceiling mouldings, the wrought iron stair balustrades, for example - with a bright, pop-art colour scheme, contemporary art and modern patterns.
Each piece of art, each carpet runner and each room you walk into has been specifically placed or designed to create a different mood, yet the culmination of this is an interior that is relaxing, while inspiring, and a space you just don't want to leave.
Altstadt Vienna - http://www.hotel-altstadt-vienna.com/
Photography © Yasemin Richie, 2011BACK