With its successful blend of imperial tradition and contemporary creativity, Vienna has established itself as a major player in the global tourism market. With 14.3 million overnight stays in 2015, beating the previous record set in 2014 by 5.9 per cent, the Viennese tourist industry posted the best performance in its history.
In 2016 Vienna was named the world’s most liveable city for the seventh time in a row by Mercer. Each year the international consultants conduct a quality of life survey in 230 major towns and cities worldwide. Criteria include the political, social and economic climate, medical services, education and infrastructure facilities including public transportation, power and water utilities. Leisure facilities such as restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports facilities, availability of consumer goods ranging from food to automobiles, and environmental factors including green space and air quality are also taken into consideration.
Half of the city’s total area is accounted for by gardens, parks, woods and agricultural land. 39 per cent of all journeys in the city are by public transport – a European record. Vienna is also the only major capital with a significant wine growing industry within the city limits. Vienna is not just a federal province and capital city; it is also a wine growing region in its own right, with around 700 hectares of land under vines (about 80 per cent white wine varieties).
In 2015 the Vienna Convention Bureau registered 743 international conferences in the Austrian capital. For years the city has successfully defended its position among the top three international conference destinations selected by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
Four luxury experiences in Vienna
1. Sleep in the Emperor’s Summer Residence
Visitors to the Vienna can choose from an exclusive range of accommodation in palaces. A very special one is a heritage hotel suite inside Schönbrunn Palace. The unique 167-square-metre suite on the top floor of the East Wing of Schönbrunn Palace was once reserved for close relatives of the Imperial Court. Today it exudes imperial charm, with the interior and finishings taking their cues from the decorative style running through the rest of the former Habsburg summer residence; gold, black and white provide the colour scheme, which is touched off by luxury wood elements and the court damask design. The one and only suite in the whole palace boasts two bedrooms, two modern bathrooms, a salon, a generous living room and a kitchenette. The views of the formal gardens and the Gloriette and Neptune Fountain are an absolute highlight. Guests check in at the nearby Parkhotel Schönbrunn, run by Austria Trend Hotels, which also operates the suite. Schönbrunn Palace is Austria’s most frequented sight, attracting more than three million visitors each year.
2. Listen to world-class live music
Vienna is one of the world’s uncontested capitals of music, home to so many composers: Mozart, Mahler, Haydn, Beethoven and Johann Strauss II, the king of the Viennese waltz. Every night in Vienna around 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music. Each year the Vienna concert schedule includes more than 15,000 events of various sizes and genres.
Music with a personal note
At Hotel Imperial, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Wien, where Richard Wagner prepared his Lohengrin performance in 1875, travellers will be offered a unique experience. A special piece of music will be composed solely for them or their partner, a musical representation of their personality, based upon archaic, mythical characters, defined in consultation with the composer. From here, a piece of music evolves, which expresses the guest’s fundamental characteristics like no other – and all that in the historical ambience of Hotel Imperial. Guests might even opt for their own personal CD recorded by members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
The New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
The Musikverein and its Golden Hall is known to music lovers all over the world as one of the most illustrious concert halls of them all, where only the crème de la crème are invited to perform. Every year television audiences all over the world tune in to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Concert in a live broadcast of works by Strauss (father and son) and their contemporaries from the Golden Hall. The New Year’s Concert Special Package of the Palais Coburg Residence, member of Relais & Châteaux, includes two best-category tickets for this world-famous concert on 1 January, as well as four nights in one of the most exclusive suites, a Grand Gala Dinner on New Year’s Eve in the hotel’s own Michelin-starred restaurant, access to an exclusive New Year’s party and many more luxurious experiences.
3. Experience first-class wines
Wine has been produced in Vienna since Roman times. The typical Viennese wine is a white wine: the Wiener Gemischter Satz. For this kind of wine, grapes of different varieties are planted, harvested and vinified together. From the 2013 vintage onwards, Wiener Gemischter Satz wines have enjoyed DAC status, a quality seal that guarantees their origin. In English, this result of the most natural mode of production is referred to as ‘field blend’.
Wine tasting in the middle of the vineyards
From Vienna’s city centre the surrounding vineyards can be easily reached. Many small, typical local wine taverns pour wine and serve regional self-produced Viennese cuisine there. An even more authentic culinary experience is the visit of a so called Buschenschank, where vintners set up tables and benches directly in the vineyards.
Select your choice from the world’s best wine list
A total of six different wine cellars arranged according to different themes are located in the historical vaults of Palais Coburg. Sixty-thousand bottles are stored here, the oldest one being from the year 1727. The Coburg cellar, one of the best-stocked in the world, was given the rare Grand Award by American Wine Spectator, and was awarded “World’s Best Wine List 2014” by The World of Fine Wine magazine. This spectacular wine cellar is also open to the public. Appointments can be made for daily tours and samplings – from the “wine stroll” including a glass of champagne, to samplings of rare wines.
4. Attend a Viennese ball
A unique blend of age-old Austrian traditions, magnificent court ceremonial and the trademark Viennese waltz has seen the capital’s ball industry turn into one of the nation’s best-loved exports with replica events playing out in around 30 cities worldwide, from New York to Moscow. But nothing beats the original – the romance and charm puts the Viennese ball season in a league of its own. Ball season starts each year on 11 November and runs until Ash Wednesday. It reaches its peak in January and February. Specialised shops rent out ball gowns and tuxedos and dancing schools offer blitz courses in waltzing and ballroom standards. A ride in a horse-drawn carriage from a grand ball dinner to the splendid ball venue makes a fairytale night complete.
Next season’s ball highlights
76th Philharmonic Ball
19 January 2017
This ball enjoys the reputation of being a ball for artists organised by artists. The world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra holds its ball in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, one of the world’s most imposing concert halls, and familiar to TV viewers all over the globe as the venue of the New Year’s Day Concert.
61st Vienna Opera Ball
23 February 2017
The ball to end all balls plays out at the Vienna State Opera each year. It is a major get-together for leading cultural figures, captains of industry and high-ranking politicians from Austria and abroad.
60th Ball of the Coffeehouse Owners
17 February 2017
This ball is highly appreciated by the local population because of its typically Viennese ambience and is virtually regarded as a smaller version of the Opera Ball. It is the only ball to use all the ballrooms in the Hofburg, including the Redoutensäle and the elegant roof foyer with its view over night-time Vienna. It annually attracts around 5500 visitors and dancers.