Grand Hotels on Vienna’s boulevard

Max Herzig/E. Jaffè & A. Albert: Grand Hotel, Vienna, 1888, photograph

Like the Viennese coffee houses, the hotels on the Ringstrasse were an important hub of social activity.

Max Herzig/E. Jaffè & A. Albert: Grand Hotel, Vienna, 1888, photograph

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.

Julia Teresa Friehs