Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Location, Location but So Little Service; Nick Curtis Finds a Conran Makeover in the Heart of Old Vienna That Is Surprisingly Rough around the Edges

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Location, Location but So Little Service; Nick Curtis Finds a Conran Makeover in the Heart of Old Vienna That Is Surprisingly Rough around the Edges

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK CURTIS

HOTEL REVIEW DAS TRIEST, VIENNA

FOR A city full of stuffy, old-style hotels, Vienna's Das Triest is very nearly the kind of place style-conscious Londoners would relish.

But not quite. The building is a triangular former stable block given a complete makeover by Terence Conran in 1995 for the Design Hotels Group.

We arrive and are impressed by the modernist decor, and by our upgrade to a brightwhite, high-windowed, sixth-floor suite with singular terrace views towards St Stephen's Cathedral. Who cares that one of the lift panelsis smashed and patched up with tape, that the thermostat is hanging off the wall, that there are only two English-language channels on the telly? There is a welcoming orchid and jar of sweets! Oh, wait - both of them are covered in ants. They are nesting on the terrace. We decide not to stay in the room for too long.

One thing Das Triest has going for it is location. It's slap-bang between the museum quarter, the Habsburg palaces and Lipizzaner stallion stables, the main shopping district and the cathedral precinct of Stephansdom. Any number of gilded churches and gilded canvases by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt are a mere bratwurst's throw away.

The city is intermittently beautiful, but retains a slightly suffocating, kleinburgerlich (petit bourgeois) mentality. Everything shuts on Sunday, the cuisine reaches its apotheosis with coffee and sachertorte, and there is an armed guard stationed against racists beside Rachel Whiteread's Holocaust memorial.

Back at the hotel that evening, things start off well enough. The hotel's tiny Silver Bar seems to have been designed to echo Adolf Loos's famous American Bar in the town centre. It is presided over by the supremely calm, confident and impressivley moustachioed Senegalese mixologist, Djibril Keita.

The Collio restaurant is a different matter.

An overlit corridor overlooking the hotel courtyard, it's full of waiters flapping napkins, brandishing giant pepper grinders and whisking the wine bottle out of your reach; the style of service is as outmoded as the artery-thickening meat-and-potatoes cuisine.

Back in our room, the ants are still marching, and the uncurtained strip of window above our bed throws sunshine over us at dawn. …

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