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Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, Vienna 

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1 Praterstrasse
Austria 1020
Tel: 43 1 906160
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
Austria's conservative capital got a jolt of off-kilter chic with this 18-story tower by French starchitect Jean Nouvel. Located along the Danube Canal (across from the Schiffstation catamaran landing), the 182-room Sofitel lies just outside the city's historic first district, commanding wide-angle views over the skyline and St. Stephen's Cathedral. Minimalist style is the driving force here: Nouvel reportedly banned flowers from the lobby and minimized the presence of signs and other visual distractions. The all-gray guest rooms on the cathedral side have bare (though heated) floors and sleek sliding panels covering the windows; north-facing rooms with views over Prater park are white-on-white (and have curtains); and the truly style-obsessed can request one of the three all-black rooms. Spared from total aloofness, the hotel integrates city life through its design-focused shopping center, while two restaurants attract a local crowd: Le Loft, an airy rooftop restaurant-bar by three-Michelin-star chef Antoine Westermann, and Neni im Zweiten, a branch of a beloved Israeli restaurant in the city's Naschmarkt. Though courteous and competent, staff are not quite laser-focused: An overzealous bellman might carry off the bags with the documents you'll need for check-in. The overall effect makes a stay here feel less Viennese and more like a journey into the flourish-free vision of a master architect. —2011 Hot List

Which room to book: Among the gray rooms, No. 1514 has the benefit of being on an upper floor and framing the cathedral spires in the center of its citywide panorama.

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