The differences between a pension and a hotel aren't important to the average vacation traveler. A hotel usually has a restaurant and occupies its own building. A pension, on the other hand, typically rents two or three floors of a building housing other businesses. It seldom serves meals other than breakfast.
So it is of little consequence that our 1994 Hotel of the Year—Vienna's Pension Altstadt—is technically not a hotel. Regardless of its official designation, the Altstadt was an easy choice. It combines a high level of personal service, fashionable ambiance and, during a time in which the price of an ordinary double room in a stylish hotel in a major European city is seldom less than $250, excellent value.
Former computer executive, Otto Wiesenthal, has conceived and executed a lodging of great style. Bits and pieces of modern art are scattered throughout the Altstadt's 25 spacious, art nouveau guest rooms (ask for Number 14 or 31), no two of which are alike. From a chair by the fire in the main salon guests can enjoy the view across the rooftops to St. Ulrich's church.
Herr Wiesenthal and his staff recommend good neighborhood restaurants and can also run down theater and opera tickets.
The Altstadt is located in a fairly upscale neighborhood of shops and apartments, a few blocks beyond the Ring and a short walk from the Neu Rathaus. The center of the old town is only 15 minutes on foot or five minutes by underground.
Perhaps in part because it is in Vienna, Gemütlichkeit has received more favorable letters and comments about the Altstadt than any other hotel we reviewed in 1994.
(For prices, phone numbers and other particulars on the Altstadt see listing on page 8.)
Best Hotel Values of 1994
Here, are the 11 best hotel values of the past year. They are listed in alphabetical order and include the approximate price for a standard double room with private bath.
• Gasthof Pöchhacker - $62
Gasthof Pöchhacker, Sieringerstrasse 122, A-4400, Steyr, Austria, phone 07252/63173.
• Haus Sarstein - $58
Haus Sarstein, A-4830 Hallstatt 83, Austria, phone 06134/217.
• Hotel Adler - $100
Hotel Adler, Fuggerstrasse 1, D-87561 Oberstdorf, Germany, phone 08322/30 59, fax 08322/81 87
• Hotel Lichtsinn - $110
Hotel Lichtsinn, Rembertistrasse 11, D-28203, Bremen, Germany, phone 0421/36 80 70, fax 0421/32 72 87.
• Hotel Mader - $80
Hotel Mader, Stadtplatz 36, A-4400, Steyr, Austria, phone 07252/53358-0, fax 07252/533506.
• Hotel Rebenhof - $85
Hotel Rebenhof, Weinstrasse 58, D-76534, Neuweier (Baden-Baden), Germany, phone 07223/5406, fax 07223/52321.
• Hotel Ohnime - $75
Hotel Ohnime, Purbergstrasse 56, A-8044, Graz, Austria, phone 0316/39 11 43 19, fax 0316/39 11 43 19.
• Hotelschiff Elbresidenz - $89
Hotelschiff Elbresidenz, Terrassenufer 12, D-01069, Dresden, Germany, phone 0351/459 50 53, fax 0351/459 51 37.
• Pension Altstadt - $110
Pension Altstadt, Kirchengasse 41, A-1070 Vienna, Austria, phone 1/526 33 99-0, fax 1/523 49 01.
• Pension Aviano - $105
Pension Aviano, Marco d Avianogasse 1, A-1010 Vienna, Austria, phone 1/512 83 30, fax 1/5312 81 65-65.
• Schwechater Hof - $78
Schwechater Hof, Sieringerstrasse 122, A-4400, Steyr, Austria, phone 07252/53067, fax 07252/5477054.
Best Hotels of 1994
In addition to our Hotel of the Year we saw some hotels that without respect to price were outstanding. Here are the very best in alpha order along with the price for the cheapest double room.
• Brenner's Park-Hotel & Spa - $290
Lavish guest rooms, elegant public rooms, good food and top-class service in a magnificent park setting. The finest spa facilities. Few are in this class. Brenner's Park-Hotel & Spa, Schillerstr. 6 D-76530 Baden-Baden, Germany, phone 07221/9000, fax 07221/38772 Rating: 18.5/20.
• Hotel Beaufort - $207
Neuchâtel, Switzerland. See "G" awards story. Rating: 18/20
• Hotel Walter au Lac - $145
Very large double rooms, many with huge lakeside terraces, are the leading feature of this three-star hotel. Ideal location on Piazza Rezzonico. Hotel Walter au Lac Piazza Rezzonico 7, CH-6900, Lugano, Switzerland, phone 091/227425, fax 091/234233. Rating: 16/20
• Kneippkurhaus Christliches Hospiz - $220
Oberstdorf, Germany. See "G" awards story. Kneippkurhaus Christliches Hospiz, $Rating: 18.5/20
• Park Hotel Bremen - $275
An outstanding five-star hotel, regally situated in the middle of Bremen's 350-acre Bürgerpark with access to footpaths, cycle tracks, meadows, streams and lakes. Park Hotel Bremen, Im Bürgerpark, D-28026, Bremen, Germany, phone 0421/34 08 611, fax 0421/34 08 602. Rating: 17/20
• Privathotel Quisisana - $195
Updated 19th century villa on a hill above the town. Elegant interior, especially the public rooms. Fine spa facilities. Privathotel Quisisana, Bismarckstrasse 21, D-76530, Baden-Baden, Germany, phone 07221/3440, fax 07221/38195. Rating: 16/20.
• Romantik-Hotel Der Kleine Prinz - $195
A little too cute but there's no argument that this is a tremendous small hotel. Guestrooms are extraordinary and service is five-star. Romantik-Hotel Der Kleine Prinz, Lichtentaler Strasse 36, D-76530 Baden-Baden, Germany, phone 07221/3464, fax 07221/38264. Rating: 16.5/20