My earliest visions of Vienna were certainly in monochrome.
With the film noir classic The Third Man being very much a key influence and an introduction to me of such a wonderful city. With the wicked Orson Welles being hunted above and below the city by the British actor Trevor Howard along with it’s dramatic conclusion in the sewers of the post war torn capital of Austria.
Today Vienna is vibrant, colourful so it came as quite a shock when I had the chance to visit the Sofitel Hotel to discover this tourist and Viennese favored hotspot has a reputation for looking at things in black and white!
The view from its 18th floor restaurant and bar is amazing! The city is spread out before you, in a stunning panorama that I think cannot be beaten anywhere else and is where in Vienna you need to go to get it.
However looking more inward than outward at the rooms and decorative theme of the hotel and you are back in the 1950’s film world with a palette of black, white and grey.
Here monochrome rules except for the limited splashes of colour introduced by the architect Jean Nouvel in conjuction with artist Pipilotti Rist. In this instance on a top floor ceiling or in a few highlighted areas the coloured lights can be found in the passageways and corridors of the 180 bed hotel. The largest splash of all is a huge multi-coloured lit screen ceiling in the restaurant that is clearly visible from across the Danube canal and the nearby tram interchange at Schedenplatz.
The grey sweep of dining tables, chairs and other fitted furniture provides a contrast to the vivid ceiling which at times during the darker hours the garish illumination varies in random intensity on it’s lighting cycle.
Looking outside brings yet more colour as the city lights up and places like the floodlit St Stephen’s cathedral and the Belvedere palace will take your breath away as you dine or drink in your 18th floor ‘Le Loft’ look out!
The Best View In Vienna
Recognizing this vantage point, both the city residents and visiting tourists have turned the place into a real hotspot and place to be seen or carry out business and get the best view in Vienna. I would if you cannot get a booking in restaurant or bar in the evening, customer numbers are restricted to around 160, go for the lunch option. It is quieter and the daytime view, well its truly ‘wunderbar’ too!
Black is not just reserved for the lifts of this hotel that were of coalhole intensity when you step into them and with very subtle lighting took a while for your vision to acclimatize. The architect did at one stage want 80% of the rooms themselves to be in black too, that changed after the client decided it was a step too far and put a black mark against that early on! There are still some black rooms and they are very much sort after as they tend to be corner rooms, according to a hotel spokesperson.
A high percentage of the rooms are in white and that runs to chairs, tables, baths bedding, walls and floors. Generous in size with twin washbasins as standard plus baths and showers too.
Not to be left out, grey rooms of course make an appearance too. As with the white rooms but totally grey and just one shade of it!
There is a variation in overall room specification and size and that runs from junior suite through luxury to large suites. Artwork is present in the rooms but there are no pictures on the walls for instance. Here subtle monochrome graffiti has been employed with students commissioned to work on each room so each one is very different. The windows frame and provide views of the city I wonder how much they saved on pictures? But in truth the idea works really well and my tongue in cheek question is just that!
Monochrome it maybe but the Sofitel still has a great story to tell, just like those movies did in the 40’s and 50’s. Sometimes colour confuses anyway and here its all laid out for you in black and white, with perhaps a bit of grey too.
With its superb location and views of Vienna you will not be disappointed but don’t let me colour your thoughts… go check it out yourself!