Luxury Hotels

Vienna – Avant-Garde

Austria might be closed through to 7th January but the astute Vienna-based Sacher brand shows how valuable it is (an insurance, really), not to put all your proverbial eggs in one basket. Long before the 149-room Hotel Sacher Wien opened in 1876 the Sacher empire was producing chocolate cakes known the world over, today, as Sachertorte (apparently invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Metternich, sachertorte today has its own Wikepedia entry). Right now, local and global online sales of sachertorte have, said Sacher brand ambassador, Co-CEO and member of the owning Gürtler/Winkler family, Matthias Winkler, soared. Local cognoscenti drive past a kiosk outside the hotel – see above – say how many cakes, and what sizes, they want, and a couple of minutes later they are on their way. Girlahead bets they will be back again for more, to go with their ubiquitous coffee. It was, according to tradition that is undoubtedly fictitious, Marie-Antoinette who said “let them eat cake”.

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Hotel Sacher Wien opened as Hotel de l’Opera, as it is a mere 30 metres from Vienna’s Opera House.  Girlahead last stayed at this glorious hotel in one of its themed suited, #106-108, the Wiener Philharmonic Suite. In the south-west corner of the building, the sitting room overlooked the Opera House and Kartnerstrasse. It was memorable for so many things, including Pierre-Yves Rochon’s design, which included original 1874-vintage parquet flooring with a distinctive diagonal-star design, and a 1920-vintage tiled stove, which, says Alexandra Winkler, wife of Matthias, above, is her favourite piece in the entire treasure-filled hotel.  The stove, Girlahead learned, is a court-special, mould-and-cut technique, and examples are also seen at Schönbrunn Palace, the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers at Hietzing. Wiener Philharmonic Suite’s stucco ceiling, by the way, is comparatively modern, dated 1900, and as for its heated bathroom floor and electric towel rate, well they are 2020 going on to the years ahead.

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And that brings Girlahead conveniently and logically to this week’s star on MARY GOSTELOW GIRLAHEAD PODCAST. Daniel Levine is CEO of New York-based Avant-Garde Institute. He was virtual keynote at the brilliant – physical – Luxury Bloc event, organised by Gabriela Markova, at Mandarin Oriental Prague earlier in 2020. Since then Girlahead has been privileged to get to know, and learn from, him. Listen to  him below, now.