A hotel that celebrates tradition by moving forward, not by looking back
Florian Weitzer draws on the Ringstraße‘s heyday to revive Viennese elegance at his grand Ferdinand. With its 188 rooms and three restaurants, the new hotel on the schubertring combines the beauty and relish of times past with the finest amenities anno now. the harmonious overall composition is graced with extravagant details – from the courtyard oasis and rooftop pool to the chance to tour the city in a Jaguar with a special history. The completely re-designed grand Ferdinand returns the building on the Ringstraße back to its former, well-deserved glory. and it enriches Vienna‘s culinary scene with two restaurants set in the unique ambiance of the ground floor, which is open to the level above: the grand Ferdinand restaurant, serving traditional eastern European cuisine, and Gulasch & Champagne, featuring snacks and small plates.
Austrian through and through – Grand Ferdinand, grand composition
It was no wonder, that Florian Weitzer was drawn to the Ringstraße. He had long desi- red to add a glamorous hotel to Vienna‘s scene. First, his four other hotels had already proven that he could playfully combine a historical foundation with good ideas to create a contemporary composition, and second, the magnificent boulevard has been home to illustrious names in the hotel business since the 1873 World exposition. now, in 2015, the grand Ferdinand by Weitzer Hotels happens to be the only Austrian-run hotel directly on the Ringstraße.
As in all of his hotels, Florian Weitzer does away with the staid. Instead, he draws on traditional beauty and enjoyment to create a timeless elegance – recalling the ringstraße era, when Vienna was transformed into a sophisticated european city. It was a time in which one strove for perfection in all things. the intention of the grand Ferdinand, too, is to create an overall composition whose true grandeur arises from the purposeful arrangement of its individual components. a noble harmony extends to every aspect, from the interior design all the way to the cuisine – connecting the gorgeous chandeliers on the expansive ground floor, hand-made according to old designs by traditional Vienna glass-maker lobmeyr, and thonet chairs, to champagne bars in the rooms stocked with French Mumm.
Timeless beauty – lodging at the Grand Ferdinand
Florian Weitzer is confident that „anything you do can be done beautifully, and eve- rything that is built can be built beautifully.“ But he notes, „Beauty is in no way a mat- ter of money, or design, or a creativity competition. It‘s simply a matter of attitude.“ this approach is clear in the design of the 188 rooms in five categories. every single room is a custom composition of timeless elegance, contemporary comfort and soulful extras. Light switches are made from ceramic, as was once common, and glass-block shower enclosures recall the building‘s 1950s origins. the colour scheme in all of the rooms is an elegant in- terplay between nostalgic curved headboards and mirror frames in white, dark wood floors and charcoal grey walls. the round, leather-rimmed mirrors above the bathroom sinks are a design classic by Gubi in the style of Jacques Adnet. Details like collapsible interior shutters made of white wood complete the finishes harmoniously staged by Florian Weitzer. Even a standard room comes furnished with a comfortable king-size bed and a rainfall shower. Slightly larger and with a touch more extravagance are the rooms in the standard+ category, which feature a green leather chaise longue and champagne bar. one category up are the Business rooms, which include a desk.
The suites on the top floor, the seventh, come close to a symphony, or seventh heaven if you will. From here, guests have a box-seat view of the ringstraße and Vienna‘s rooftops – which can be taken in from a free-standing cast-iron art nouveau tub or private terrace. The view from the 100 m2 grande suite, extends all the way to the giant Ferris wheel in Vienna‘s prater park. The suite is complete with a walk-in closet, an extra dressing table, terrazzo floors combined with wooden floor boards, and two toilets. the crowning glory of this magnificence celebrated in every respect is the private access to the rooftop, with its grand Étage bar and an exclusive pool. The grande suite costs EUR 3,000 per night, but Florian Weitzer wanted to make the grand Ferdinand experience accessible to those with a smaller budget, too. Bunk beds are available in an elegant six or eight-bed room for a reasonable EUR 30 a night – and they can be booked through Airbnb.
Grand Austrian cuisine – food and drink times three at the Grand Ferdinand
During its imperial past, Austria‘s renowned cuisine incorporated a number of culina- ry influences from northern Italy to Bohemia and Hungary in addition to its own regional traditions: emperor‘s soup, tafelspitz served table-side, veal kidneys, minced meat fritters à la Metternich, violet ice cream and much more. the grand Ferdinand restaurant has revived these delights – some of which had been long forgotten – yet does so without clichés, showcasing honest cuisine, accompanied by an exquisite wine list and served with grandezza in a generous atmosphere. The restaurant‘s high culinary standards are reflected in the architecture – and of course in the harmonious details, which in their ensemble strive to create something grand: magnificent chandeliers, up-scale wooden furnishings, leather benches, gold-rimmed porcelain and silverware from Wiener silber Manufactur. Whether staying as a hotel guest or not Austrian specialities can be relished at the grand Ferdinand restaurant all day long until midnight in one of its nearly 200 seats – or, as of next spring, in one of the additional 40 outdoor seats in front of the restaurant.
Florian Weitzer‘s idea of creating a meeting place for locals with every new restaurant concept comes once again to fruition in another eating establishment, accessible from the street. the grand Ferdinand is home to Gulasch & Champagne, a place where the general public and guests alike can begin and wind down an evening spent at the ball or one spent taking in Vienna‘s cultural life. Or where they can simply stop by for a snack. open from 11:00 am to 12:30 am, the bistro serves goulash, sausages and leberkäse sandwiches along with the finest champagne or an inexpensive glass of Velkopopovický beer – in a cultivated yet cosy atmosphere with a large bar and terrazzo floors.
In the same vein as the private salons that were once held in Vienna at the end of the 19th century, the grand Ferdinand‘s third culinary hot-spot is an exclusive one, reserved for ho- tels guests and their visitors. The grand Étage is home to a terrace bar perched high above Vienna‘s rooftops, which stays open from morning till late. a buffet and à la carte items satisfy guests‘ culinary needs, while the special view of st. stephen‘s Cathedral and the north-south view of the ringstraße take care of emotional needs. The grand Étage experience is rounded out by the rooftop pool and, in the colder seasons, an open fireplace.
It wouldn‘t be a Weitzer hotel without surprising details – enjoying extravagance at the Grand Ferdinand
Florian Weitzer has once again re-imagined the hotel experience at his fifth hotel. the elegance of the grand Ferdinand‘s old structure is graced with one unexpected touch after another. Not only is the view from the top floors one of a kind; from the restaurant, guests look directly into a courtyard, the „oasis“, filled with unusual plants and an old stone fountain. special, beautiful pieces from Austria‘s old hotel tradition are also on dis- play in the back of the restaurant: Augarten porcelain, Lobmeyr glass and items from Wiener silber Manufactur. the exhibit is an homage to a time in Vienna in which nothing was more meaningful than embodying what was good. also of note are the cement floor tiles, hand-crafted using a centuries-old method and featuring an elegant pattern, which make up most of the ground floor. And not to be forgotten are the three Lobmeyr chandeliers. One hangs directly above the landmarked main entrance and is lowered once a day using a special lift so that its real candles can be lit – a celebrated ritual and one more element of the very special extravagance of the grand Ferdinand. Equally stylish are the hotel‘s own Maserati and Jaguar, which guests can hire for a high-power tour of the city. The Jaguar even boasts a history that ties into that of the hotel. It belonged to Dr. Hans Lauda, grandfather of Austrian Formula one world champion Niki Lauda and director of the Veitscher Magnesitwerke refractory products manufacturer, which was headquartered for many years at Schubertring 10-12.
Architecture – a journey from office building to the Grand Ferdinand
After Hotel Daniel Vienna, this transformation from an office building to a hotel is the second collaboration between Weitzer Hotels and Atelier Heiss Architekten. The massive reinforced concrete building, whose sandstone and black granite façade and red marble vestibule are landmarked, dates from the 1950s. although the building is more recent than most of its neighbours, its history is just as rich.
The mansion built at Schubertring 12 during the Ringstraße era suffered damage during the second World War and was completely rebuilt in the 1950s according to plans by Percy Farber and Walter Sobotka. after serving as the headquarters of Veitscher Magnesitwerken, it was Austria‘s office for the protection of the Constitution, and finally came under the ownership of Karl Wlaschek and Amisola Immobilien AG. When work began in spring 2014 in accordance with hotelier Florian Weitzer‘s wish to give the existing building a touch of grandeur and elegance while respecting its rich history, the building was nearly completely hollowed out, two courtyard wings were demolished and rebuilt, and the ground floor was opened up to the second level. as a result of this work, some of the rooms on the first floor are accessible from a gallery and are at eye level with the restaurant‘s gorgeous chandeliers. The ground floor is the best example of the triumphant return of timeless beauty and elegance to Schubertring 10-12. It houses the main entrance at the centre with the restaurant and courtyard to one side and the reception and Gulasch & Champagne to the other side, arranged in the shape of a letter E.
The new opulent spaciousness culminates in a view through floor-to-ceiling windows directly from the street to the restaurant and courtyard beyond. the opening of the hotel returns the building to its former well-deserved standing on the Ringstraße.