Asian supermarkets, a mouth-watering gourmet market, vintage clothes shops, retro furniture stores, smoky bars, and pool halls… the 5th district location of our latest ‘home away from home’ in Vienna is about as far removed as you can get from Sacher tortes, Spanish dancing horses, and the Vienna Boy’s Choir, yet, if that’s what we were after, it’s all within a ten-minute stroll from our apartment.
But we’re not. We’ve been to Vienna before and on our first trip we ticked off all the top ten sights. In keeping with our local travel mission, we’re keeping it real this time and the 5th district is about as local as neighbourhoods get.
There are no tourist sights in the ’hood and a mid-range hotel a few blocks away seems terribly misplaced. Our building, with its gritty entrance and stairwell, also seemed an unlikely place for a holiday rental. But that’s just the way we like them.
Once we had recovered from carting our luggage up the stairs with the assistance of our host (a warning, there’s no elevator), we discovered a freshly renovated, light-filled apartment. The bright space boasts enormous windows, high ceilings, new polished floorboards, original art on the walls, and bold splashes of colour.
There’s a spacious living-dining-kitchen area, a big bedroom, and a decent-sized bathroom. The bedroom comes with two narrow double beds, or two big single beds depending on how you look at it, a couple of covered chairs, and an Audrey Hepburn-Marilyn Monroe screen hiding a clothes horse.
The living area has a single sofa and a small round dining table, which was adequate, but would have been a lot more comfortable with two sofas or a modular sofa, and a larger dining table.
In the dining corner, there’s a boom box, which would be best replaced with an iPod docking station, and in the living room, a tiny flat screen television (no DVD player) with only German-language channels. If you’re planning on being out all day and night this won’t bother you, but if you like to spend time in relaxing in the evenings, you’ll need to come prepared.
The kitchen is wonderfully equipped, however, with a big fridge, a good stove, a full-size dishwasher and plenty of pots and pans, dinnerware and glasses, and – yay! – a washer-dryer. There’s also a drip-filter coffee maker (we would have rather had an espresso maker) and a couple of kettles.
The owner (who lives downstairs if you need anything) provides basics condiments for the kitchen, and also leaves a welcome gift for gifts, which was a bottle of wine when we stayed, which was immensely appreciated after our long train ride.
It’s a really lovely apartment, and our despite being heated throughout only real complaint was that it could still get quite cold at times (no matter how high we turned the heating up), but there was exceptionally chilly weather when we stayed.
We loved the neighbourhood and really wished we would’ve had longer there. We’ve spent two weeks in every place this year for Grantourismo, yet in Austria we split the time between Zell am See and Vienna, so we could get a taste of the two. Vienna was one place we really didn’t want to leave and by the end of the week, were desperately wishing we had another seven days there. Don’t make the mistake we did: book two weeks and settle into a fascinating neighbourhood.