City Guide: Weekend in Vienna

A Girl, A Style _ ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Vienna
If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that we’re recently back from a weekend city break in Vienna. As my fiancé and I had both been travelling separately a lot for work, we had barely seen each other and were in need of some quality time together. As we both love exploring more than anything, a quick flight to another European city seemed like the perfect answer. Although we had been to Vienna once before, it poured with rain our entire time there so we had been longing to return.

We took an early flight from Heathrow on Friday morning, and by lunch we were walking through the park in the sunshine in Vienna. We packed in plenty of museums, coffee shops and sights before our Sunday evening flight home, but still felt like we had enough relaxing downtime that we could head to the office refreshed by Monday morning. If you haven’t been to Vienna before, I recommend it for it’s beautiful architecture, history and grand old coffeehouses; it is a city just made for romance and cultural enlightenment. Next time we’ll come back in December for the famous Christmas markets and a night at the opera (the weather was perfect so we didn’t take in any of the renowned music halls this time, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a cold winter evening in Vienna).

A Girl, A Style _ Hofburg Palace ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Hofburg Palace Vienna
These were the best things we covered during our stay:

Do // If you’re a culture addict, then Vienna is quite simply one of the best cities in the world. Grand architecture, rich history, breathtaking palaces and wonderful museums are yours to be explored. You’ll see many of the renowned ‘sights’ – the State Opera House, the Homburg Palace (above), St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Spanish Riding School – just walking around the old town and between the museums. On this trip we visited and loved the Belvedere Palace (the largest collection of Klimt and other masters housed in a baroque palace where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand once lived) and the grand Kunsthistorisches Museum, and on our last visit we loved the Albertina Museum and spectacular Schonbrunn Palace (which I posted here).

On both visits, we loved pottering around the fresh food market and eateries at the Naschmarkt (below), and on Saturdays there is a flea market at one end that is worth a visit if, like me, you love an antique treasure-hunt. If the weather is fine, take a stroll through the beautiful Volksgarten in the Museums Quartier, or find a chair beside the roses for a spot of people-watching.

For us, the highlight of the weekend was a sunset carriage ride through the old town. A white carriage drawn by two gorgeous white horses arrived at the entrance to our hotel looking like something straight out of an Austrian fairytale, took us on a tour of the town and then delivered us to Prater, a nostalgic 250 year-old amusement park. There, in the middle of the park, awaited the most exquisite three-course dinner in our own candlelit carriage on a grand old FERRIS WHEEL (so marvellous it warrants capitals for emphasis). As the sun went down, we ate dinner on the Reisenrad twirling high above the lights of the funfair rides below as the Viennese skyline glittered off in the distance, and each time we reached the ground a waiter would pop in to top-up our champagne or bring new dishes. Definitely a date night for the books.

A Girl, A Style _ Naschmarkt ViennaA Girl, A Style _ ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Prate Park ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Riesenrad Prater Park Vienna
Eat // It’s a good thing Vienna is a city made for long walks, because diet-friendly it is not. Here’s it’s all about the three C’s: chocolate, cake and coffee. The Viennese are passionate about their kaffeehaus tradition, and there are dozens of grand old cafes in the city which are worth a visit as much for the political cultural and literary history (these are the places where the likes of Freud, Loos, Trotsky would loiter) as for the confection.

My favourite has to be Cafe Sperl – all marble tables and dark wood paneling – where after spending the morning at Naschtmarkt, we tucked ourselves into a corner booth and lingered a while over coffee and the best apple strudel I’ve ever had as a pianist played all my favourite jazz standards. The next day we found a table upstairs at the equally glorious (though a little more touristy) Demel for tea and apricot strudel, and later stopped for coffee at Cafe Central which serves up some excellent people-watching with a side of history beneath its magnificent marbled arches (the cafe was a favourite of both Trotsky and Hitler during their Vienna years).

Lastly, if the famous Wiener Schnitzel is what you’re after, go straight to Figlmuller. I don’t eat meat so only had a salad, but the boyfriend was exceedingly pleased with his schnitzel – albeit defeated by the vast size – and the original Wollzeile location was oozing with old Austrian charm.

A Girl, A Style _ Cafe Sperl ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Kaffeehaus ViennaA Girl, A Style _ Cafe Sperl ViennaWearing: Boohoo dress // J.Crew necklace // Lulu Frost necklace // Valentino bag // NARS ‘Charlotte’ lipstick // NARS ‘Gaiety’ blush

Stay // We stayed at the beautiful InterContinental Vienna, located just opposite Stadtpark and just a few minutes walk from the MuseumQuartier, the Old Town, the Naschtmarkt and the Belvedere Palace. Our suite had views over the park and was possibly bigger than our apartment at home. The staff were utterly delightful and organised that magical carriage ride and candlelit dinner on the Riesenrad for us. If you have a special occasion to celebrate (perhaps an anniversary or birthday or part of a honeymoon), then I can’t recommend the ‘romance‘ package enough. No detail was spared, and they really did go the extra mile to make sure we felt pampered and welcomed.

A Girl, A Style _ InterContinental ViennaA Girl, A Style _ InterContinental ViennaA Girl, A Style _ InterContinental Vienna
Souvenir //  You really can’t go to Vienna without trying a slice of the famous Sachertorte (a rich dark chocolate cake with layers of apricot jam inside and a bittersweet chocolate icing, invented in Vienna in 1832). Better yet, take one home to share. Only Hotel Sacher and Demel sell the real deal. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet-tooth, pick up some longues du chat or a tablet of dark chocolate at Demel, or a box of Sissitaler or Mozartkugel (the city’s iconic marzipan chocolates). Yum!

Good to know // The city is compact enough that you can walk just about everywhere, but otherwise the subway is clean, easy to use and goes everywhere you’ll want to visit. Most Viennese speak excellent English, but will appreciate your efforts to try your best German (the official language).

A Girl, A Style _ Demel ViennaA Girl, A Style _ ViennaWearing: ASOS dress (I’m wearing the ‘tall‘ version for a slightly longer length) // Chanel bag // Dune sandals // Tom Ford sunglasses // Mimco bracelets (old)

Have you made it to beautiful Vienna yet? Let me know if you have any recommendations I can try on my next visit!

Love, Miss B xx

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Punting on the Cam

A Girl, A Style _ Punting on the Cam 3A Girl, A Style _ Punting on the Cam 7

One sunny Bank Holiday weekend last month, my friends Liv and Joe were visiting Cambridge for a spring staycation. Of course, I did what any self-respecting Cambridge-resident would do: rounded up my favourite Cambridge girl Caroline and her boyfriend, Oscar, and insisted on a picnic and an afternoon of punting on the river to kick off the summer.

I cycled across town to meet the gang at St John’s, where we all traipsed through the Bridge of Sighs towards the river to borrow a punt from Caroline’s college. We all piled in, the bottles of champagne outnumber the crew, and set off on the Cam with dashing Oscar and his master punting skills at the helm.

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The sun was shining gloriously, so the afternoon melted into dusk as we floated up and down the river more times than I could count until it was time for dinner. It is quite simply the best way to see all the grand colleges along the Backs, and the three of us recounted all the marvellous historical tales we could think of as we passed each college, and made up our own stories when we couldn’t think of anything better.

It wouldn’t be a Cambridge summer without at least a few adventures by the river, and there’s no place I’d rather be on a sunny Sunday afternoon than messing about on boats with friends.

Summertime in Cambridge, you’re alright.

A Girl, A Style _ Punting on the Cam 10A Girl, A Style _ Punting on the Cam

Wearing: Saint James for J.Crew top // ASOS jeans // Salvatore Ferragamo pumps via Monnier Freres // Ralph Lauren blazer // Chanel bag // Tom Ford sunglasses // Chanel brooches // Michael Kors watch // J.Crew necklace.
Beauty: Chanel ‘L’Eclatante’ lipstick // NARS ‘Gaiety’ blush // Deborah Lippmann ‘Naked’ nailpolish

What are your very favourite adventures to kick off summer? I’d love to hear your traditions, old and new!

Love, Miss B xx

Photos by Joe Galvin

On the Pastel Streets of Notting Hill

Of all the neighbourhoods in London, Notting Hill is one of my favourites. I first stumbled upon Portobello Road ten years ago (on my first visit to London by myself, all wide-eyed and overly enthusiastic and probably searching for Hugh Grant), and it was love at first sight. Even though these days, Portobello Road is horribly overrun with noisy tourists every Saturday (and tacky souvenir shops have subsequently popped up between the antique shops), the neighbourhood still retains all of its bohemian charm.

I love treasure-hunting for vintage jewellery, china, antique maps and curiosities on Portobello, the cafes and boutiques along Westbourne Grove (where I always stop for Diptyque candles and lunch at Ottolenghi and, when I have a bout of homesickness, a beauty fix at Aesop and the perfect Australian brunch at Granger & Co) and strolling the leafy, mansion-lined residential backstreets (and dreaming of living in one of those glossy townhouses myself someday).

For me, this place is doubly-special for all the wonderful moments I have spent there, and whenever I have a case of the mean reds (to paraphrase Holly Golightly), a day wandering Notting Hill is always just what I need to put me back in a good mood. Dearne, my dearest friend and fellow-Australian-in-England, and I would always meet here on weekends for brunch, treasure-hunting, walks around the neighbourhood (she actually did live on those leafy streets) and endless chats about boys, shoes and the meaning of life (see previous case in point here).

So it was only fitting that for our last girl date before De moved back to Australia, we crammed in all our favourite things in Notting Hill. I put on my most ladylike skirt, pinned on a few brooches (favourites from previous Portobello Road treasure-hunts) and raced off to meet De by the curiosity shop on the corner. After scrambled eggs at Granger & Co and a stop at Diptyque (obviously), we strolled those gorgeous streets searching for the prettiest pastel townhouses in her neighbourhood and soaking in the last of the summer sunshine. After one last twirl around Portobello Road, we said a very teary farewell on that perfect, pastel street.

Yet as hard as it was to say goodbye to someone I treasure so much, I feel so grateful to have such special people in my life and to be able to make memories in places this wonderful.

 Wearing: Topshop skirt (sold out, but similar styles here), ASOS shirt, Zara sandals (sold out, but gold version here and similar style here), Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets, vintage brooches (from Portobello Road, but similar styles here and here), Chanel ring (sold out, but similar style here), Jersey Pearl necklace, Grand Bazaar necklace, Chloe sunglasses.  

Oh Notting Hill, I love you!

Do you have any favourite places that are so special to you? And I’d love to hear your Notting Hill suggestions!

Love, Miss B xx

Thank you De for the photos (I miss you already!)