from Vienna



Will you allow me this dance ?

I love a nonsensical festive cliche. My favorite is “new year new me”, followed closely by “‘tis the season!”, a statement which perfectly legitimizes absolutely any behavior or activity between December and January.

“Yes, I have just made a sandwich out of chocolate orange and Christmas pudding. So what? ‘Tis the season!”.

I’m also partial to “start the new year as you mean to go on”. I’m not sure exactly how you start a year as you mean to go on, but I’m pretty certain eating two tubes of Pringles on a sofa at your mums house isn’t a great attempt. Despite this, 2014 was ok. I managed to move from the sofa in mid March and I didn’t survive the year entirely on tubed potato snacks. I had like maybe, 97 tubes.

This year things were different. As 2014 ended and 2015 began I found myself seated on the 18th floor of the 5 star Hotel Sofitel in Vienna, finishing the last bites of the most incredibly decadent and utterly delicious six course meal (six!), encompassed by a glistening, unbroken panorama of the Viennese skyline. The food was a kind of countdown; scallop followed by lobster followed by veal... each plate edging us closer towards midnight (as well as reminding me of my abandoned gym membership).

Then there were the fireworks. Hundreds of them. As the bells of St Stephens chimed for the final time in 2014, the most spectacular bouquets of crimson, gold and vermillion began to pierce the nightscape, from Rathaus to the Riesenrad, continuing for what felt like an age. It is tradition in Vienna to waltz at midnight of the New Year, so as the cacophony of color continued outside, my fellow diners on the 18th floor danced. Despite the wine, I knew that attempting a waltz would ruin the pretense of sophistication I’d been trying to uphold all evening, so I decided not to embarrass myself and guard the petit fours instead. The whole evening was honestly, remarkable. It’s a spectacle which already, just a few days later, I can’t believe I witnessed.

After all this, we returned to our suite (suite!) overlooking Donaukanal and the cathedral, said goodnight to 2014 and goodnight to Vienna.

So, 2015. Start as you mean to go on. No pressure. (FYI in 2015 I will only be eating at 3 Michelin starred restaurants. I could be tempted to slum it in a 2 star, but only at a push.)

NYE was only part of my incredible stay. I spent four days in Sofitel. Four days feeling like there’d been a terrible mix-up and I’d be banished at any moment. How did this happen to me? The last hotel I stayed in was a half closed travel lodge off the M6.

The Sofitel Vienna was majestic. A sleek monolith, all glass and black marble; a total antithesis to the neo-baroque wedding cake of the Ringstrasse, and how I imagined of all of Vienna to look.

Looking up at the building, Google Glass on and primed, there is just a hint of the spectacular kaleidoscopic ceiling on the 18th floor which after dark reflects a fantastical sunset onto the night sky.

Design is at the core of Sofitel Vienna, every detail simple yet carefully considered; functional but luxurious. It really is all about the view here. The hotel is there to let Vienna in; to let the city do the talking. Also, there was a pillow menu. A PILLOW. MENU.

It all felt very futuristic, (I was basically James Bond in my Google Glass and velvet jacket), but with the warm and attentive service you only get in a 5 star hotel. I say this as though I’m always dropping into 5 star hotels; I assume you get this in 5 star hotels. You certainly didn’t get it at M6 travel lodge.

Vienna itself was a dream. It has everything; beauty, history, wiener schnitzel... it was right up my street. Sorry, strasse. I was very sad to leave. I mean, I love my flat in London, but having to tear myself away from this?!

A truly unforgettable experience. I think back to the midnight waltz; a traditional celebration in a thoroughly modern setting. That sums it up for me, that’s what this hotel does; it unites Viennese tradition with modernity. It lets the city in. What a place.


+ meet James
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"I’m Jimmy, and I’m a TV presenter and YouTuber living in London. How could I resist the chance to stay in an incredible hotel in Vienna for New Year?”

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