I may have only spent two days in the Austrian capital, but it was enough to be swept away by its magic. This winter, myself, my husband and my colleague/sister were graciously invited by Palais Hansen Kempinski to experience their incredible facilities and explore the city, and both exceeded our expectations.
Vienna is a city of history and culture, and we made sure to pack our schedule to the brim: St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Vienna State Opera and the Belvedere gallery among many others. It was such a joy to walk around the city in the winter sunshine, discovering flea markets wedged between Art Nouveau buildings (obviously referencing Naschmarkt here!) and soaking up as much culture as possible.
The Belvedere was a definite highlight: seeing so many of Klimt’s works under one roof was a privileged moment, one that I will never forget. It was also breathtaking to see Jacques Louis David’s portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte: one that I had so often admired in my history books growing up.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Vienna without a visit to an imperial palace, so the Hofburg was a must-see (Schönnbrunn is on the list for next time!). Feeling like Franz-Joseph and Sisi, we followed in their footsteps through the exquisitely curated royal apartments and saw how they lived and how they died, particularly the tragedy surrounding Elisabeth’s assassination. Whilst you’re there, make sure to stop by the Silberkammer: the absolutely extravagant collection of silverware and tableware used by the Habsburgs during their state dinners and royal events.
During our stay in Vienna, we were also incredibly lucky to find tickets to one of the Spanish Riding School’s shows. As a keen horsewoman myself, I was astounded by the skill, discipline and sheer beauty of the riders and their horses. The relationship between man and animal was one of the most beautiful partnerships I’d ever seen.
A stop on our tour that my sister was particularly excited for was having lunch at Café Sacher, in particular a slice of the Original Sachertorte in the place where it was born. Oh my goodness: the cake, hot chocolate and schnitzel we had were incredible. So much so we even debated returning the next day!
When we weren’t out and about, we had an incredible hotel to return to and I’ll forever be grateful for them having us stay with them. Palais Hansen Kempinski is the perfect blend of old-world luxury and cutting-edge design, making it a go-to for travellers seeking the best in Viennese hospitality. Regrettably, we missed their apfelstrudel classes hosted by their in-house pastry chef, but it’s one of the many reasons we want to return in the very near future!