A unique bastion of the city’s interior design scene, Hotel Altstadt Vienna offers an eclectic mix of rooms by a prominent array of interior designers, each paying homage to this unique centre of arts and culture. As part of the Hotel Altstadt Rooms series, we now look at room 65, which first started life as one of Roland Nemetz’s infamous napkin sketches.
An architect and hotel impresario, Roland Nemetz was born into the trade, and recalls how 50-years ago he used to help his mother serve glasses and empty ash trays in Carinthia, while his father, the owner of an architectural and construction company, designed and built hotels.
Coming at the project with a lifetime of hotel design experience, Roland Nemetz had but to look outside the courtyard window – into which he had been personally put by Hotel Altstadt owner and friend, Otto Wiesenthal, to spy the inspiration he needed.
Hotel Altstadt just so happens to back on to Vienna’s Off Theater, and given the city’s myriad theatre scene and reputation as a thriving riot of culture, the ‘Theater Suite’ seemed a perfect way to welcome visitors to quintessential Vienna-living.
“One of the first steps was to think about the room per se and its intrinsic character. When we discovered that the room was actually located just above … the Off Theater, it was clear to us what we would create.”
Envisioned with a blend of traditional post-war-modernist furniture, virtually every piece was hand-picked from Austria's Vienna. As a result, the room as a whole conjures up visions of a true Viennese ambience, one of subtle theatrical persuasion. Subtle theatrical design blends the room into a stage, as red accents of fun and drama mingle with calmer greys and woods.
The matching grey bench and armchairs designed by architect Roland Rainer came from nearby Café Ritter, while a Roland Rainer spoke-back chair sits at the make-up table, complete with luminous bulbs to powder your before-show face. A high-quality piece of furniture, this make-up desk was produced as part of a Viennese social program, and sits across from the marbled wood cloverleaf table, a magical find sourced from an antique dealer in the Fourth District.
The frame which holds the mirror was once used to post notices for various culture events happening at the hotel and beyond, while the mirror itself comes from the former Messepalast, or Viennese Court Stables. Pictures of famous Viennese actors adorn a portion of the wall and were supplied by the hotel’s own collection, as well as the Salzburg Festival, and all the while your beautifully modern, free-standing bathtub sits open in an alcove, curtained off in deep red heavy drapes, ready for you to throw back and put on a show, should the mood take you.
Practicality and function, however, have not gone unnoticed, and stand as a bedrock for the room’s entire foundation. Fitting a bathroom, coat rack, closet and small bar(!) into one wall was no easy feat, and demanded a change to floor plan several times (just think of all the napkins). The room’s clever design details continue on into the interior choices, of which a washstand designed by Matteo Thun stands as testament to that – not only is it almost theatrical in its beauty – the upper part is made of a single piece of porcelain, but it also has a rarely seen second storage shelf, where guests can keep their bathroom essentials.
A fitting stage from which to explore Vienna’s wider culture and design scene, Hotel Altstadt Vienna’s room 65 keeps the show going long after night, and the last curtain, falls.
Read up on other Hotel Altstadt Vienna design dens in our Travel Journal, such as room 67 created by Vienna Design Week Director Lilli Hollein; room 66 by Gregor Eichinger; room 64 by Adolf Krischanitz; the Lackner Suite by creative guru Andreas Lackner and Svenkst Tenn’s Josef Frank Suite. Tour the city in style with our Vienna Design Guide, peruse a coffee shop ode to all things beyond Sacher, check out our Foodie Guide to Vienna and hit the streets in style with our Vienna Art Guide.