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It's the same song every spring and summer--people begin to make their travel plans to Europe, but international airfares can sometimes kill a budget. However, if there's any consolation, you can make up for that top-dollar ticket by staying at these new and affordable hotels.
Generator Hostel, Barcelona
Imagine bedding down in one of Spain's most intoxicating city's for less than the average dinner tab? That's what's up at the new Generator Hotel, which opened mid-March.
Part of a popular, trendy chain, the rooms are located on the top floor of a building. Each unit has its own balcony with views of the city, as well as private bathrooms--a rarity. Fiesta Gracia, the restaurant, is a great meeting place to bond with other hostelers and is open until 2 a.m. There's a surprisingly long, world-wide list of beer, wine & cocktails and even local DJs come to entertain the crowd while they chow on tapas and Instagram using the free WiFi. Continental breakfast is served at La Plaça café. Anwar Mekhayech (of Soho House fame) is the design master behind this hostel's boutique look.
And since you're in Barcelona, more art is minutes away as the hostel is only five-minutes from both Diagonal and Verdaguer metro stations en route to local museums (and even the beach!).
A range of rooms and layouts are available, with rates for dorm rooms (6-8 beds) starting at €13($17) per night and go up to €41 ($53) for more private single/double occupancy rooms.
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Kempinski Hotels / Vienna Hotels / Austria Hotels / Luxury Hotels / → All Tags
We were lucky enough to be in Vienna last month and get first looks at the new Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, which officially opened today with a 700-strong party attendance. At the time, the place was a huge construction site and we were doubtful that the company would be able to pull off their anticipated opening date. Looks like we were wrong!
As we donned surgical coverings over our shoes and made our way through the historical Renaissance Revival-style building that was built in 1873, in Vienna's first district, we knew this place would be something special. From the cafe wall made of real plants to the intricate details of each space, it seemed that Viennese architect Boris Podrecca and designer Jean-Claude Laville had serious visions for this hotel. And it would be necessary to stand out in a city that's been seeing a host of new hotels lately including the Ritz-Carlton, Vienna and has competition to come in the form of the ME Vienna and the Park Hyatt Vienna. So yes, they had to bring the bling to the 152 room, suites, and common areas, and it took almost three years to get it done, but they still managed to keep much of the heritage intact--from the chandeliers, wrought iron staircases, and ceiling windows that bring in natural light.
First and foremost, the building is huge--well of course it is--it's a former palace. Still, it seems like the areas are never ending, especially when spread across seven floors. It'll take more than one night to absorb its splendor. In fact, our site-inspection was nearly two hours long and this was pre-opening. Here's what's in store for lucky guests.
Hotel News / Hotel Openings / Photo Gallery / Preferred Hotels / Boutique Hotels / Hotel Design / Philippe Starck / Vienna Hotels / Austria Hotels / → All Tags
If you've been to Vienna you already know it’s a fascinating city that upholds its formality and grand architecture as a point of pride, but you don’t need to dig very deep to also find its modern charms--hip museums, neighborhoods, and cafes. This is the city that bred Falco, after all.
The new 63-room Hotel Sans Souci, a member of the Preferred Boutique Hotel Group, had its soft opening on December 20, but it rocked Amadeus (check the Falco reference!) yesterday during its grand opening event.
Designed by yoo, Philippe Starck’s design company, the hotel has La Véranda restaurant, Le Bar and a spa. Interiors are modern and refined in shades of grey (heh!), gold and white with opulent little touches, such as chandeliers overhanging the pool, Arne Jacobsen egg chairs, and the Roy Lichtenstein paintings found in the suites and public areas.
Also worth noting, just in case you’re a Johann Strauß groupie, Hotel Sans Souci is actually the former inn where the composer performed his “Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka“ for the first time in 1858. Just sayin’.
We've already dreamed about life in the palace once this month, so why not dream again? This time, we have our eyes set on RItz-Carlton Vienna, which opens today on Schubertring Boulevard inside "an elegant building composed of four historic palaces dating back to the 19th century."
That's four more palaces than most hotels tend to offer!
Aside from the building's history, a few other components about the hotel have also got us excited: like the rooftop bar (Atmosphere), the six-room Guerlain Spa, a seventh-floor Club Lounge overlooking Vienna from below the eaves of the palace, and an 18-meter indoor pool that plays underwater music.
Each year, Vienna hosts one of the largest and most extravagant HIV/AIDS fundraisers in the world: the Life Ball. And for those in the know, the come-one, come-all free Fashion Show held at City Hall Square is considered to be the pinnacle of the whole she-bang. Nowhere else will you see the who’s who of haute couture mixing with such an enthusiastic crowd of costume-wearers. (Can’t quite wedge these six-foot angel wings out of this revolving door...)
However if, like us, your tootsies are just too tired to make that final trek to the ball at the end of a jam-packed day, spend the evening at Le Moët Bar in Vienna’s Le Méridien Hotel. Sink into a slinky chair, order a glass of champagne (what else?) and prepare for the show.
Oh what a difference a year makes!
Remember when Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts suddenly dumped its plans to open a new hotel in Vienna, Austria? Amidst reports of opening delays, and even worse, shoddy construction quality, the property was removed from the group's expansion plans in Europe in February of 2011.
By summertime the hotel was looking forlorn and desperately in search of a new brand to put its name on the door. We even went so far to say we could probably rule out the likes of Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton to come and snap it up.
How wrong we were!
With everyone talking about New York's upcoming gay-themed hotel, The OUT NYC, we thought we'd take a look at some of the world's gay-friendliest hotels and resorts. Keep an eye out for that later next week. In the meantime, we thought we'd share a tip we received yesterday from a HotelChatter maven about a place called The Wild in Vienna.
Despite its evocative name, The Wild is in fact just a family-owned (Wild is their last name) European pension hotel located in Josefstadt, with free breakfast buffets, reasonable rates (from EUR 41), and close proximity to Vienna's sights. Interestingly, what their website chooses not to mention is Sport Sauna, a thriving sports-themed gay bathhouse, bar and general "cruising area" located in the basement. Oops. Guess we just outed them.
Park Hyatt Hotels are on an expansion whirl this year. The Park Hyatt Maldives debuted the other month, the Bermuda location is later this year or early next and even NYC will be getting a Park Hyatt soon. And now come 2013, the Park Hyatt will open its doors in Vienna.
Hyatt Hotels made the announcement this morning, saying the hotel would open inside a historic building in the city's Innere Stadt, or First District.
Park Hyatt Vienna will feature 143 rooms, including 35 suites. In addition to an all-day dining restaurant, lobby and cigar lounges, and a hotel bar, the hotel will include a premier meeting facility with 640m2 of conference space, a fitness center, and a spa. The world-class luxury hotel, which will reflect the intimate and understated elegance of the Park Hyatt brand, is being designed by architects Neumann & Partners and interior design firm FG Stijl.
While the former Mandarin Oriental Marrakech recently got snapped up by Taj Hotels, the planned Shangri-La Hotel Vienna is still searching for the perfect companion. We reported that Shangri-La shockingly pulled out back in February and since then, the hotel has been sitting empty.
A tipster tells us that the local media refers to it as a "ghost hotel" and that despite everything being finished and furnished, there's been no takers from the operational standpoint.
That sounds surprising for a completely finished property with 207 rooms and an indoor swimming pool but then again the Shangri-La dumped it because of poor construction quality. So that probably rules out any other luxury brands like Four Seasons and Ritz-Carltons to come in and snap it up. But perhaps there is a "lifestyle" brand that would consider it? (Since they've been known to open up in former Holiday Inns and the like.)
Wiped off the map. Gone but not forgotten.
Sometimes, with all these hotel openings, we forget there’s that small matter of wavering economies. But today we’ve been brought back to reality with a jolt, with the news from a tipster that the Shangri-La Vienna will never open.
The hotel has already been removed from the Shangri-La website, as if it never existed. Very secret agent.
It was originally down to open in 2009 and Shangri-La had bought up an entire city block on the 19th century Ringstraße in order to turn it into a 207 room hotel. But things haven’t gone to plan, because, according to our tipster:
Shangri-La has terminated the management contract with immediate effect due to poor construction quality
Shoddy work in precise Austria? Wow. Also, that’s a pretty major step to take – things must really have been dire.
The move has left about 70 pre-opening staff laid off (saddies). And there’s no word yet on what will become of the property instead.
When you turn up to stay at the Grand Hotel Wien in Vienna, you'll likely be thinking along the lines of "old elegance" and "grand luxury" rather than "high technology" – but you might be pleasantly surprised.
This grand old dame of a hotel has just got itself hooked up to a WiFi network system which claims to be one of the best. (Well, actually it claims to be the best, but we think that's hard to prove). The NonStop Wireless Networking, a Belden brand, has been installed in 140 different access points within the hotel – we assume that means that most or all of the guest rooms now have WiFi. The system has actually been extended to the hotel across the road, The Ring, which is owned by the same company.
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
Vienna is an artsy city -- and, above all, a city of music -- so we figure a hotel that can offer this view over the beautiful Vienna State Opera House is right on the money.
The view is actually from the balcony of a penthouse suite at Westin's Bristol Hotel. Obviously the location is central, on the ring roads that circle central Vienna, and perfect if you pop out for a night at the opera. The rooms also seem to fit the mood, and the penthouse suites have special star-shaped ceilings which definitely intrigue us.
As you'd expect, it's not exactly cheap to sleep right next door to the opera house. They offer a "Taste of Luxury" deal with a 3-night minimum, and a fourth night free, for 308 (US$450) a night, including a good Austrian buffet breakfast. The penthouse view over the opera house is, of course, a few euro more.