Grand Hotels on Vienna’s boulevard
Like the Viennese coffee houses, the hotels on the Ringstrasse were an important hub of social activity.
Originally no hotels had been planned for the Ringstrasse; the projected buildings were intended to be a mix of public edifices, private town palaces and apartment blocks for the wealthy. However, Vienna’s hosting of the World Exhibition in 1873 gave rise to an imperative need for high-quality accommodation, and many luxurious hotels were duly built on the Ringstrasse. Examples include Hotel Sacher, whose exquisite cuisine and intimate atmosphere attracted not only foreign guests but artists, high-ranking military and not least members of the imperial family and courtiers. The Grand Hotel was a meeting-place for the Austrian nobility and upper middle classes until the end of the Monarchy, providing a discreet ambience for rendezvous between Crown Prince Rudolf and Mary Vetsera. Originally a residential building, the Grand Hotel was a world in itself, with its own restaurant, café, bar, laundry and stables. By contemporary standards it was well-equipped, with an engine-powered lift, bathrooms on every floor and telephones in every room. During renovation in the 1990s, the hotel was completely gutted before being reconstructed in historical style.