Laurent Vella/Courtesy Relais & Chateaux
Top 10 European Cities for Smart Splurges
THE DRAW Venturing a bit off the main tourist drag in Vienna to up-and-coming neighborhoods like the Neubau yields intriguing design shops, cutting-edge art, and lower price tags than both the city center and other European cities.
DON’T MISS Shopping at old-is-new-again imperial manufacturers like the glass company Lobmeyr (www.lobmeyr.at) and the porcelain producer Augarten (www.augarten.at). Buying their classic designs in Austria works out to be a better deal than purchasing them in the United States. Both companies have recently hired dynamic contemporary designers.
WHEN TO GO Vienna is best experienced during warmer months, when travelers can sit outside, or during the festive weeks leading up to Christmas.
WHERE TO STAY The Ring (www.theringhotel.com) does understated luxury extremely well. The lobby’s cream- and chocolate-colored couches are perfect for curling up by the fireplace and people-watching: The hotel draws a chic, creative crowd. A more affordable option is the Altstadt (www.altstadt.at), a stylish boutique hotel in the city’s historic heart.
COMBINE WITH A trip to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, about an hour’s train ride to the east, where one can stroll the city’s main avenues, lined with brightly painted baroque palaces.
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