The Pint-size Vienna Neighborhood You Have to Visit
With its specialty shops and sophisticated new stays, this under-the-radar area is coming into its own.
Despite its proximity to the world-famous Naschmarkt and Belvedere Palace, Vienna's Wieden district has never been a big draw for travelers. But the tiny neighborhood left an outsize impression on me after I visited last fall. The hotel Das Triest, originally designed by Terence Conran in 1995, recently added 49 über-stylish rooms outfitted with Philippe Starck floor lamps and black-and-white wall panels by artist Esther Stocker. Later this summer, Mooons opens across the street from the Central Train Station with 170 budget-friendly, design-forward rooms, plus a rooftop terrace and a courtyard garden.
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I was charmed by the quaint, locals-only vibe of the neighborhood's restaurants. At Grace, Petra and Oliver Lucas offer an approachable take on fine dining that features venison hunted by Petra's father and walnuts picked from a friend's tree. Blown-glass pendant lamps and blue velvet seats provided an airy setting at the year-old Alma, where I found unfussy bistro food like tartines with marinated chicken and roasted pistachios. I sampled a more eclectic spread — falafel, ricotta knödel — at Zweitbester, an always-humming brunch spot with regular live music and art exhibitions. Kruste und Krume launched last fall with a packed calendar of baking workshops. Book a session in English and learn how to make traditional Austrian rolls like kipfels and Salzstangerl.
Wieden is miraculously low on chain stores. Instead, it's dotted with one-off gems like the light-bathed Feinedinge, which sells sculptural vases decorated with floral reliefs. Gabarage specializes in quirky upcycling: pick up a tote crafted from event banners or a canary-yellow statement necklace fashioned out of bike gears, part of a collaboration with designer And_i.