Chirine Halabi headed to Vienna for a stay immersed in history, art and more.
I adore the cultural side of Qatar, especially our many museums and galleries, so when an invitation came to visit Vienna, home of some of Europe’s finest collections, I jumped at the chance.
I was delighted to be staying at The Leo Grand Hotel Vienna which enjoys a privileged location in the heart of the city, providing guests with convenient access to Vienna’s most prominent landmarks and attractions. Situated within close proximity to the renowned Stephenplatz, this exquisite hotel is surrounded by a vibrant array of shopping arcades, fine dining establishments and cultural gems.
This storied hotel holds a rich historical past, tracing its origins back to the grandeur of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Initially established as a luxurious palace in the 19th century, The Leo Grand has stood witness to Vienna’s shifting cultural landscape. Over the years, it has been meticulously renovated, preserving its timeless elegance while incorporating modern amenities to cater to the needs of discerning guests.
Design, Technology & Luxury
Stepping inside The Leo Grand Hotel Vienna, guests are immediately struck by its opulent design and attention to detail. The interior seamlessly blends classic elements with cutting-edge technology, creating a truly remarkable ambience. The fusion of exquisite furnishings and intelligent lighting systems adds a touch of modernity to the timeless elegance of the property.
The Patio Deluxe room I enjoyed offers a sanctuary of comfort and luxury. The carefully curated furniture and décor exude sophistication and refinement. Guests can indulge in the convenience of controlling lights, temperature and even the television through the tablet provided in each room. I found the system easy to operate and this seamless integration of technology into the hotel’s design ensures guests can enjoy a personalised and comfortable stay.
The hotel’s commitment to guest satisfaction extends to the smallest details, such as the distinctive blue towels and deep bathtubs. The luxurious bathrooms offer a haven of relaxation, inviting guests to unwind in the comfort of their elegantly designed private sanctuaries.
And there is a range of accommodation types available, including Grand Deluxe rooms and suites, such as the truly majestic, two-floor Leopold Suite.
Food Glorious Food
DOTS at The Leo Grand, is the gorgeous restaurant found in the Baroque inner courtyard, a hot spot in the city centre offering avant-garde fusion cuisine accompanied by relaxed tunes in a wonderful location.
The hotel prides itself on providing an exceptional culinary experience and I was very happy to start with its delectable breakfast menu. Guests are treated to a wide array of fresh and locally-sourced delicacies, catering to various dietary preferences and ensuring a delightful start to the day. I took full advantage of a hearty early feast, perfect to set me up for a day of cultural exploration.
Out & About
Vienna, the enchanting capital of Austria, is a treasure trove of art and culture, boasting a myriad of world-class museums. Within close proximity to The Leo Grand Hotel, visitors have the opportunity to explore the rich artistic heritage of the city. While strolling from the hotel to these museums, one can also enjoy delightful dining experiences and indulge in some retail therapy, enhancing the overall Viennese experience.
The Belvedere is a magnificent palace complex that houses two prominent museums: the Upper Belvedere and the Lower Belvedere. The upper is renowned for its impressive collection of Austrian art, including the iconic masterpiece ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt, my favourite painting of all time. This museum showcases a wide range of artworks ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. Just a short walk from the Leo Grand, visitors can enjoy the picturesque views of the palace gardens. Along the way, you will pass charming cafés and restaurants, offering the ideal opportunity to savour the world-famous Viennese delicacies or enjoy a cup of coffee.
A stone’s throw away from the Belvedere is the Albertina Museum, home to one of the most important graphic art collections in the world. Visitors can immerse themselves in the works of renowned artists, such as Dürer, Monet, Picasso and many more. Easily accessible on foot from the hotel, as you traverse the streets, you can explore fashionable boutiques, upscale shopping malls and traditional Viennese markets – yes, I added a touch of retail therapy to my cultural excursion.
The Leopold Museum, another notable institution, is situated in the MuseumsQuartier, a short distance from The Leo Grand Hotel. Dedicated to Austrian modern art, it showcases an extensive collection of works by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. The neighbourhood is known for its trendy cafés, vibrant bars and boutique shops, offering a delightful blend of cultural immersion and urban exploration.
I also made my way to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, located near the famous Ringstrasse, which is a true gem for art lovers. This magnificent museum, and I have to emphasise the word MAGNIFICENT, houses an extraordinary collection of fine art, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Titian. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll from the Leo Grand Hotel, marvelling at the stunning architecture and grandeur of Vienna’s Ringstrasse. Along the way, I discovered many elegant restaurants serving traditional Viennese cuisine and returned to savour the city’s culinary delights while enjoying the splendid surroundings. The Leo Grand Hotel is surrounded by high-end shops, including designer boutiques and luxury department stores, where you can find the latest fashion trends and unique souvenirs. For foodies, Vienna is a paradise, with a wide range of restaurants serving traditional Austrian cuisine, as well as international dishes. Some of the must-try dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz and Sachertorte, a chocolate cake that is a Viennese speciality.
In terms of things to do, Vienna has something for everyone, from visiting historic landmarks like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace and the state opera house to exploring the city’s museums and art galleries. The hotel is also close to the famous Naschmarkt, a bustling market where you can find fresh produce, spices and souvenirs.
For travellers from the Middle East, summer is an amazing time to visit Vienna offering a welcome respite from our own scorching temperatures. There is also an extensive programme of events and festivals across the summer season, from opera to music and arts with something for every taste. Or, you could choose to go in wintertime, close to Christmas, when the city is usually a veritable winter wonderland.