The Harmonie Vienna: Seven Reasons It’s My Dream Hotel

The Harmonie Vienna: Seven Reasons It’s My Dream Hotel

I just got word of where I’ll be bunking during my upcoming trip to Austria, thanks to the Vienna Tourist Board: The Harmonie Vienna.

As a travel writer, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in some of the world’s top hotels and resorts. But I can’t recall a place that was a better fit for me, personally, since…well, ever.

Here’s why.

1. Location, Location, Location
University of Vienna, alma mater of Sigmund Freud and my cousins Viktor and Ezriel Kornmehl

University of Vienna, alma mater of Sigmund Freud and my cousins Viktor and Ezriel Kornmehl

The Harmonie is in the 9th district, or Alsergrund, which is slightly off the beaten tourist path–and exactly the path I want to beat. It’s where Sigmund Freud, as well as his butcher, my great uncle, and many other members of my family lived and worked and studied at the University of Vienna.

It also adjoins the 1st district, Vienna’s sightseeing heart–very convenient for when I want to be a regular tourist.

And the American Embassy is in Alsergrund. Not that I’m planning to get into trouble, but you never know.

2. Art and Architecture

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not especially interested in Mozart, opera, or any of the other great music for which Vienna is known. Before you brand me a complete Philistine–can Jews be Philistines or is that a Freud-worthy internal conflict?–I hasten to assure you that I’m very interested in modern art and architecture, and especially of the Jugendstil period (Viennese Art Nouveau). Perhaps the most important architect of this era is Otto Wagner; there’s even a tourist map guiding visitors to his work. So imagine how excited I was to discover that Wagner built the two homes that were converted into the Hotel Harmonie.

Vienna's Karlplatz Station, designed by Otto Wagner (did I mention I love public transportation)

Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station, designed by Otto Wagner

Then there’s the contemporary art in the hotel lobby and rooms by Luis Casanova Sorolla, who creates his pieces by dancing on canvas; think Jackson Pollack meets Mikhail Baryshnikov. You can see a video of the process on the hotel’s site.

3. Food

“From the region,” “organic,” “fresh”–those adjectives are music to the ears of a food writer, as is the noun “buffet.” The following are just a few of the items noted on the hotel’s generous breakfast spread:

  • Harmonie Vienna organic cereal
  • Ham, cheese and sausage from the region
  • Organic eggs
  • A selection of jams and marmalade
  • Fresh fruit
  • Prosecco

Spot quiz: Which item on this list is not like the others? Talk about kickstarting your day!

But wait, there’s more. According to the website:

We serve free Meinl tea and homemade cake, Strudel or Kipferl between 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm. Coffee-lovers can also enjoy traditional Viennese coffee. 

Vanilla Kipferl (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Vanilla Kipferl (image from Wikimedia Commons)

I had never heard of Kipferl but if it’s sweet, I’m interested. According to Wikipedia:

The Kipferl, ancestor of the croissant, has been documented in Austria going back at least as far as the 13th century, in various shapes. The Kipferl can be made plain or with nut or other fillings (some consider the rugelach a form of Kipferl).

They are said to have been created in the shape of the Turkish crescent moon symbolizing the celebration of the victory of the Hungarian army over the Turkish in one of the many wars between the nations.

I may have to try a few different kinds. For research purposes.

4. Modern Comforts–Plus

I like my buildings with historic character, my hotel rooms with modern amenities. So I was pleased to see free wireless internet and a flatscreen TV on the list of in-room features. But there was also this on the list: “hot water bottle service.” I hope it’s not so cold in Vienna that I need it, but how comforting to know that it’s there.

5. Gift  Shop

Yes, the gift shop is small but it’s open 24/7 and sells Viennese chocolate. You never know when you’re going to have a chocolate emergency.

6.  It’s a Best Western

Best WesternI’m not going to lie. When I first saw the Best Western Premium imprimatur, I was a bit put off by the idea of an American hotel, even though this is an individually owned franchise. And then I thought… wait, I’m an American (see #4, Modern Comforts–Plus), and one who, stereotypically enough, doesn’t speak German. I am not as likely to feel ashamed to use English here as I would in another hotel.

And as it happens, Best Western has an interesting history, which I discovered when I was writing a guide to my adopted home state, Arizona. It was founded as an informal referral service for participating motels in 1946, a time when accommodations in the west could be, well, wild. One of the first members–and still loaded with character–was the Coronado Motel in Yuma, which spurred the geeky hotel research tangent that I just hauled out.

And the hotel group is headquartered in Phoenix.

Yep, I’ll be right at home.

7. Fitness Center

I’m actually not sure about this one. Hotel exercise rooms tend to reproach me if I don’t use them. But, like the hot water bottle service, it’s nice to know it’s there.

14 Responses to The Harmonie Vienna: Seven Reasons It’s My Dream Hotel

  1. Frankie Blei says:

    I love the way you write Edie. You get me feeling that I am there with you, feeling hungry over the food (most of which I cannot even eat) and wishing I COULD be there. 🙂

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Thank you, Frankie. I wish you could be there too! It would be fun prowling around with you (we’d probably rescue a few stray animals, if there are any in Vienna…).

  2. Frankie Blei says:

    Oh – and my mum graduated with a PhD in Biochemistry from University of Vienna tho her graduation papers stated she was not to work in her field. When? Mid 1938 after Hitler’s arrival in Austria.

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      So awful. I guess it’s a small victory that they gave her the degree. I hope she was able to work elsewhere.

  3. Jill Kornmehl says:

    Could not be more pleased–you finally will get to Vienna and it looks like you will be staying in the perfect location. But I don’t anticipate you will be in the room very much, given your large agenda of family research that needs to be done (HINT, HINT).

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      You’re right about that, Jill — but you’ve already paved the way! When I get to the IKG archives, I will just say thank you for all the information you gave Jill Kornmehl; is there anything left for me to look at 😉

  4. Anna Redsand says:

    Your hotel sounds spectacular. We stayed at the unimaginatively named Hotel Austria on Fleischmarkt (Meat Market), which, just for its name might be of interest to you. Also, it is not far from Leopoldstadt, where Sperlgymnasium is located. That hotel was small and modest, extremely clean and comfortable and with an amazing breakfast spread. Next door was a restaurant whose name I don’t recall, but which served beautiful, light wienerschnitzel. We ate sachertorte at the Sacher Hotel, and dinner once at Cafe Imperial, which is presumably Freud’s favorite cafe. The food was very good, the live classical music exquisite, and the baroque decor something to remember. I wish we’d been able to spend more time there, and I can’t wait to hear about your experiences–both up and down–and see some pics. Have a wonderful time.
    Anna Redsand recently posted..Plurality on EasterMy Profile

  5. Martha says:

    Those Best Westerns pop up in the strangest places. About 30 years ago I was in Israel visiting my folks and we took a trip to the Sea of Galilee, where we were booked in at a kibbutz-run resort. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up to the establishment and the Best Western flag was waving in the breeze!

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      They’re everywhere, aren’t they? I didn’t want to mention this in my blog post, but they are also now the official hotel of NASCAR!

  6. N Lipschutz says:

    In the 8th Bezirk is the Hotel Zipser. wonderful place to stay, great breakfast buffet too.

  7. […] on the block, another butcher shop and an apartment building. My hotel, the wonderful Best Western Harmonie, was only a short walk from Berggasse, and I passed the street nearly every day […]

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