This Iconic Neighborhood in Vienna Might Actually Be the Coolest Spot in the City

With the arrival of cutting-edge restaurants, a statement hotel, and on-trend boutiques, Vienna’s Old Town is shedding its sleepy reputation.

<p>CHRISTIAN STEMPER/COURTESY OF WIENTOURISMUS</p>  A snowy night in Vienna’s Old Town.

CHRISTIAN STEMPER/COURTESY OF WIENTOURISMUS

A snowy night in Vienna’s Old Town.

On a cold December night in Vienna, I was at a bar under a museum, several cocktails deep. After an afternoon of Klimts, Klines, Rothkos, and Pollocks at the Albertina Modern — the new addition to the city’s famed art institution — I sat down for a vegetarian tasting menu and cocktail pairing (which included seven mini-drinks) at Hausbar, the museum’s subterranean restaurant.

It was fully booked, so the owner, Luke Bereuter, carved out a cozy spot for me at the bar. The bartender explained the ingredients in my first drink: pine-needle schnapps stirred with ancho-chile-infused liqueur and Lillet Rosé. The pine needle and ancho chile electrified my taste buds, while the food pairing — saffron panettone with macadamia nuts covered in whipped butter — grounded the flavors.

<p>Angela Lamprecht/Courtesy of Hausbar; Benjamin Mohl/Courtesy of Hausbar</p> The dining room at Haurbar; a Zinnober cocktail at Hausbar, made with Cynar, red port, maraschino, and lemon.

Angela Lamprecht/Courtesy of Hausbar; Benjamin Mohl/Courtesy of Hausbar

The dining room at Haurbar; a Zinnober cocktail at Hausbar, made with Cynar, red port, maraschino, and lemon.

This cozy little scene played out in Vienna’s Old Town, also known as the Innere Stadt. It’s here that travelers come to stroll the leafy Stadtpark and admire the grandeur of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg palace. But these days, the Innere feels different, thanks to an influx of fresh-faced entrepreneurs. Case in point: the beanie-capped Bereuter.

“The young and innovative people are trying to do new things here,” he said as he slid a plate of sweet-potato ravioli in front of me. “The mix is getting better; it’s not just tourists and the older crowd anymore.”



"In a city where Holy Roman Empire relics come with the territory, I found that the best moments were a seamless blend of then and now."



While I’d only been in Vienna for 48 hours, I had to agree. I’d had dinner the previous night at C.O.P., which stands for “Collection of Produce,” another inventive spot in the Innere that had opened just days before. Headed by 29-year-old Israeli chef Elihay Berliner, it focuses on Austrian pétillant naturel wines and, as the name suggests, plenty of fruits and vegetables, like braised beets with chicory and labneh, as well as theatrical dishes like smoking crème brûlée.

<p>Jana Perusich/Courtesy of C.O.P.</p> The dining room at C.O.P., in Vienna

Jana Perusich/Courtesy of C.O.P.

The dining room at C.O.P., in Vienna

The changing food scene isn’t all that’s new in the Innere. When it debuted in 2022, the Rosewood Vienna marked a turn for the neighborhood. Set in a 19th-century building where Mozart once lived, the 99-room hotel marries the district’s budding creative energy with its historic bones. Refined touches include a serene parlor with a hand-painted mural, a rooftop garden, and a brasserie that serves updated Austrian classics. But for me, the modern flair is most on display in the spa, where the relaxation room has plush loungers facing slanted floor-to-ceiling windows and chic, Jetsons-esque metallic light fixtures.

I wrapped up my time in the Innere Stadt with Lucie Lamster Thury, a former stylist who gives shopping tours. Wiener Silber Manufactur sells silver cutlery, tableware, and accessories — both refurbished turn-of-the-century pieces and new wares made by Vienna’s last two remaining silversmiths. At Mühlbauer Hatmakers, which has been in business since 1903, I bought a hand-knit lamb’s-wool headband.

<p>Courtesy of Rosewood Vienna</p> Hoffmann House Lounge at the Rosewood Vienna

Courtesy of Rosewood Vienna

Hoffmann House Lounge at the Rosewood Vienna

But what most held my attention were up-and-coming labels like Schella Kann — creative director Anita Aigner’s latest ready-to-wear collection just showed at this fall’s Paris Fashion Week. In a city where Holy Roman Empire relics come with the territory, I found that the best moments were a seamless blend of then and now.

A version of this story first appeared in the December 2023/January 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "What's Old is Neue."


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