"Why don't you take the lift up to Level 8?" suggests the receptionist as I check in. "There's a swing'n'roll DJ playing tonight." The rooftop bar is so jam packed with young, energetic Viennese dancers that I need to fight my way to the terrace. The mid-week hop is a good introduction to the exuberant 25hours Hotel, which channels the burlesque spirit of Vienna's lively MuseumsQuartier. Apart from its 217 individually styled guest rooms, the hotel offers a funky in-house restaurant, burger van in the courtyard, small souvenir shop and heaps of personality: expect to find plenty of quirky memorabilia, such as a 1950s photo booth in the vestibule and an armada of drums festooned over the cocktail bar.
Officially known as the 7th District, the MuseumsQuartier is home to some of Austria's most important cultural institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK), the Leopold Museum and the Kunsthalle Wien, but also hosts many street art events. The district attracts many students from the University of Vienna who come here for its street food, cafes and music venues.
Cluttered, quirky, theatrical, even melodramatic, the interiors of this hotel never fail to amuse. Whether you are admiring a cabinet of vintage cameras, settling back into a retro leather armchair or washing your hands in a copper saucepan, 25hours Hotel is full of surprise. Checking into your room, you'll find a hand knitted elephant on the bed and a giant clown or two on the wall. This vibrant wallpaper was created by Berlin illustrator Olaf Hayek and neatly underlines the stated aim of the hotel to explore "the sexy, exotic and the surreal".
After the long flight from Australia my standard M-Room, with its circus-themed mural, comfortable bed and park views, is a welcome refuge. The knitted toy elephant is a playful touch – as are the eccentric light fittings, rustic furniture and polished copper washbowl in the bathroom. My room comes with a fully stocked mini-bar, work desk and flat screen TV. For longer visits, I'd recommend upgrading to a larger space; Panorama Suites offer separate lounge areas, kitchenettes and rooftop views.
No one is going to starve at this hotel. Your options begin on the front terrace where a retro food cart, Burger de Ville, has taken up residence. Choose from traditional American burgers or vegetarian options. Once inside, you'll find RIBELLI, a funky Italian bistro serving antipasti, pasta and piping hot pizza. The drinks list features plenty of interesting regional Italian wines and craft beers.
Vienna has an excellent public transport system, but the city is also fun to explore on foot or by bicycle. The hotel has bikes for hire (€5 for half a day) and its own MINI for guest use. Major attractions such as the Vienna State Opera, St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Parliament are all within easy reach. On Lerchenfelder Strasse you'll find a good selection of bars, bistros and old school Viennese restaurants; Hausmair's Gaststätte serves fantastic schnitzel and sauerkraut. And make sure you drop into Schelato for one of the best ice creams on the planet.
This gem of a hotel quickly becomes one's home-from-home in Vienna. While the standard rooms are on the smallish side, the location, warm ambience, quirky vibe and good-natured bustle more than compensate.
25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier, Lerchenfelder Strasse 1-3, 1070 Vienna. Rooms from €140 ($A230), including breakfast and Wi-Fi. See 25hours-hotels.com
Hiring one of the hotel's bicycles and exploring Vienna is a delightful experience. You feel like a real local.
Having to leave. Two nights is hardly long enough to really enjoy this whimsical, lively and warm-hearted hotel.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Mark Chipperfield stayed as a guest of Melbourne-based tour company Crows Flight.