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February 7, 2011
February 2, 2005
From journal Christmas time in Vienna
May 26, 2004
This fear flew out the window the moment I stepped into the lobby of the Altstadt. I was early (I tend to be early a lot; it’s a character flaw), but the lovely receptionist didn’t shoot me one of those, "What, you want your room now?" looks.
Instead, she graciously apologized that my room wasn’t ready. Would I care to have a cup of coffee in the lounge while my room was prepared?
Of course I would. I trail behind my elegant hostess into the…
HOLY MOWLY! This is the lounge? Surely, I’ve stumbled into the Viennese equivalent of a Thom Filicia interior. I’m dazzled by the decorating bravado.
I seat myself in an overstuffed chintz armchair. Look around, taking it all in. Pinch myself. I’m still pinching myself when a uniformed staff member brings my coffee. After all of about two minutes have elapsed.
I know what you’re thinking: "This is how nice hotels are run, you ninny. Where have you been staying all these years?" And of course you’d be right, but here’s the kicker: the Altstadt provides all the solicitous care and elegance of a five-star hotel at half the price.
I’ve barely finished my coffee when the receptionist wafts back into the room to inform me that my room is ready. I take the key upstairs and am wrestling with the door when the owner/manager materializes beside me like a welcoming genie. With a deft flick he unlocks the door, brings in my luggage, and shows me the room. It’s a stunner: spacious, vibrant, and with every possible amenity. I’m in heaven!
Then he’s gone, and I’m left to my little settling-in ritual. Perhaps you have one of those yourself. It is, to my mind, one of the joys of solo travel. I unpack my things, putting them in the lovely antique wardrobe; I check to see what channels the TV gets; I note with approval the reading lights, the bowl of fresh fruit by the chaise lounge, and the reasonably priced selection of wine in the mini-bar. I putter about, happily, pretending I am at home.
The only problem is that eventually I have to leave.
Another thing to love about the Altstadt: breakfast. Yes, definitely breakfast. One of the most appealing buffets I’ve seen is laid out, with juices, cereals, cold meats and cheeses, yogurt, fruits, breads… it goes on and on. How can one retain one's elegant figure (ahem) with such temptation?
One can’t. Don’t even try.
Just do yourself a favor: stay at the Altstadt when you’re in Vienna.
From journal Waltzing Off to Vienna