Vienna waltzed into the 21st century with Champagne and fireworks and has, in the last 10 years, become one of the best city destinations for short breaks. Lots of new, spectacular properties have been built recently, some of the finest are in the throes of completion. This means hotel prices can be extremely competitive and some last minute offers are as low as half the official rate – except during major festivals, international conferences and the festive season, when Vienna gets very busy and rates go up by roughly 20 per cent and more (see my When to go to Vienna for more information). Book well in advance if you do decide to come when there's lots going on!
Things to consider before booking
Going for the most expensive, luxury hotel doesn't automatically mean you'll get a huge room. The older the property, the more the rooms differ from floor to floor. Usually, but not always, the higher the floor the smaller the room. But then again, there are bargain hotels with more space than one would expect.
The “pension” is comparable to a b&b – usually unpretentious with nothing offered besides breakfast, but with a more familiar and friendly atmosphere. Pensions are often not even a whole building, but just a couple of floors in what might seem to be a lacklustre apartment block from the outside.
You'll generally find air conditioning in luxury hotels but not in the older three-star properties; even though heat-waves are uncommon, if you come during one of those sweltering weeks in summer, beware.
Breakfast, if not included, can be pricey, so double check upon arrival. Some hotels offer both a full spread and a cheaper Continental option. If breakfast is not included, I suggest a classic Wiener Frühstück in one of Vienna's elegant cafés (see my Viennese Coffeehouse guide).
Some hotels and pensions have family rooms with an extra bed, or pull-out sofa, for up to two children, under the age of 12. The cost is, if at all, only marginally more than the double room rate.
Vienna is not a huge sprawling metropolis and if you stay in the right place it doesn't take long to get the general feel of the city. So, with only a few exceptions, I've chosen three of the most popular areas for the majority of hotels:
Vienna's historic centre is the 1st district, bounded by the circular boulevard the Ring. This is where you'll find both monumental luxury hotels, in some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, and brand new houses boasting innovative interiors. Vienna's best museums are nearly all in this area.
Stephansplatz, Vienna's buzzing centre square, is the nucleus around which the city grew. Here I've picked a handful of hotels ranging from the trendiest high-tech temple to low-budget self-catering apartment.
The inner Mariahilferstrasse, a popular commercial district for snazzy shopping and hip restaurants, is just ten minutes' walk to the city centre. Here again I've gone for a mix of trendy, top class and bargain places to stay.