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.Subscribe now to Condé Nast Traveler for just $1 an issue! ›
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