Luxury is a state of mind and once in Vienna this must be your way.
Vienna symbolises elegance and royalty as it continues to charm the world for centuries. As the most livable city in the world, it manages to balance traditions and trends with the finesse of subtle discreet luxury. This is your goal on a holiday in Vienna letting you slow down, provoking the ability to celebrate everything fine in life, embracing the artistic in you.
Invariably Hotel Bristol a heritage hotel, part of The Luxury Collection brand is your partner in this sojourn. Offering the discerning traveller a home away from home as they say, Hotel Bristol is a world in itself.
Standing at the corner of Ringstrasse Boulevard, across the Vienna State Opera, Hotel Bristol has been serving impeccable hospitality from 1892! Imagine what must this baroque art gem witnessed all these centuries from this absolutely amazing location.
Here`s my 7 top reasons for a stay at Hotel Bristol – The Luxury Collection
The Unmatched Grand View
No one offers a better view of Vienna State Opera than Hotel Bristol. Of the 150 rooms and suites designed exclusively in a baroque style with sophisticated interiors, Hotel Bristol gives the premium proximity to world`s one of the most beautiful opera addresses;so much so that from the hanging balcony of your suite or exclusive room, you can witness the evening setting in as the opera starts reflecting on the giant electronic screen. Trust me it’s a absolutely a lifetime experience.
Always Setting The Right Mood
Hotel Bristol breathes charm and musicality, something so synonymous to the mood of Vienna. So you could be staying in a room called Gustav Malher or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or even Herbert Von Karajan! Once you enter your room you would be greeted with a rather beautiful flower arrangement exclusively of surreal roses in an elegant hand cut glass carafe with a bottle of complimentary wine and mozartkuglens!
The Prince Wales Suite – Celebrating Life
As a lover of ultimate luxury the hotel`s premium suite offers you a most breathtaking view of the opera as well as a distant glimpse of St.Stephen`s Catherdral. The suite stands out with the most ornate interiors, inside the sprawling living space of 360 square metres. This I call heightened holidaying!
The Exquisite Salon Mood
Where the quotient of hospitality is so high, needless to say that that it is going to be same for your guests. With four different salons holding different engagements and from a guest list of 10 to a 200, Hotel Bristol does it like no other. Once you have decided your venue of engagement either of these salons named once again as namesake of historical sights;Schönbrunn, Belverde, Bristol and Burggarten you know your guests and you are in the right and tender hands of warm hospitality.
Perfecting the Art of Lounging
Well lounging is about savouring moods! And Bristol has perfected it with both Bristol Lounge and Bristol Bar that serves from morning till night. And yes Vienna loves to unwind for no reason, so head to the lounge or bar for relishing long breakfasts and your evening cognacs! I absolutely love their range of Austrian boulangerie – endless variants of breads. Time to indulge!
Signature All The Way – Hotel Bristol`s Sachertorte
Hotel Bristol is a part of Sacher Group and isallowed to serve world`s perhaps the most indulgent dessert, original sachertorte, a secret recipe, carefully crafted by the head dessert chefs and tops the list of endless desserts that you can cherish at any time of the day and evening. Even the memory of this ‘object of desire’ keeps me in my mood of pleasururable holidays.
Hotel Bristol – A Mirror of Vienna
This is the biggest asset of this luxury heritage, its really literal. Hotel Bristol is a miniature Vienna and if you are a connoisseur of everything supremely fine, this is the only address for you while you holiday in Austria`s gorgeous capital Vienna!
Well I doubt if I can actually identify 7 things you must do and see while in Vienna.Vienna is the most rewarding city of Central Europe perfect for an all year round holiday. It has four distinct seasons and you can never get short of experiencing attractions.
From its stunning heritage of imperial times, to astounding Gothic and Baroque churches, unending list of cultural institutions, an opulent opera evening, endless coffee-cake sessions in oldest and newest cafés of the city, to strolling in the only wine producing district within the city limit, Vienna offers diversified sights and sounds to create a life long memory.
1.Check out the magnificent heritage!
With the long imperial history of Austria, Vienna reflects its most elaborate monuments right at the heart of the city in the old quarter of the town. The first stop must be the ornate Hosburg Palace which in current times is the official residence of the President of the country as well as home to the most amazingly curated museums and art galleries.
Vienna Hofburg is immense, a real good look can take few hours. Make sure to visit the museum of Empress Elizabeth better known as Empress Sisi, one of the most interesting queens of the world. A walk through her museum is a great way to know her life from personal to public.
I was particularly thrilled to see her portable medicine chest that she carried while in travels and her personal workout station. Check out the Imperial apartments, relishing the regal way of life, moving on to the amazingly curated royal furniture collection that hosts 16500 artifacts from 16th century onwards. Note that all of these and more can be savoured by 1 single ticket which gives you an access to Vienna Hofburg with Imperial Apartment, the Museum of the empress ie Sisi Museum, Imperial Silver Collection and the Schönbrunn Palace! Alternatively you can buy a Vienna City Card that allows you entry to all of these and more.
2. Pay a deep visit to St. Stephen`s Cathedral!
A holiday in Vienna is incomplete without seeing the St. Stephen`s Cathedral. The imposing gothic architectural marvel is considered a symbol of Vienna and is one of the most grand ones across Europe!
The church was initiated by Duke Rudolph IV in 15thcentury. The long history of the church has not affected its popularity, even after hundreds of years visitors throng this church dedicated to patron saint St. Stephen.
Built out of limestone, the church measures 351 ft in height and 446ft tall at its highest mark. 13 bells adorns the tower room of the cathedral while southernmost tower that took 65years to be constructed is the singular most spectacular icon of Vienna. If you are adventurous enough make sure to climb 343 stairs that lead to the tower room, the view of Vienna is unmatched from here.
3. Show some art love at Belverde Palace !
Vienna is full of palaces but this beautiful baroque piece Belverde Palace is not only a must heritage see but also is the trove of Austria`s largest and most valuable art collection from middle ages. Divided in two quarters the Upper and Lower, the Upper palace boasts of hosting the entire 18th,19th and 20th century art originated from Austria.
Of these exquisite showcasing are Gustav Klimt`s world famous ‘ Judith’ and ‘The Kiss’. The architectural gem was built by an architect called Johann Lukas Hildebrant as the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy in 18th century outside the limits of the then city. So if you are an art lover you know where to head off in Vienna.
4. Get passionate about biking on the Ringstrasse!
Ring Road or Ringstrasse is the circular grand boulevard road of Vienna that cuts across this beautiful city`s most prominent district for a stretch of 5 kilometres. It is said that the road is a willful desire of Kaizer or emperor Franz Joseph and was built in the year 1857.
Today it is the green crown of Vienna, perhaps the greenest thoroughfare that has an exclusive lane for the bikers and demarcated tram tracks. If you have loved biking as a growing teenager, this should be your chance to renew your passion. Most Viennese bike to work or otherwise, so renting a bike isn’t difficult at all or at the best borrow one from your friendly hotel manager.
5. Indulge over a Sachertorte!
War over a cake ! Yes you are reading it right. I will let you know about that in my next food blog, the fascinating war around this world famous dessert indulgence but for now believe that a long session over sachertorte and Viennese espresso is mandatory. Honestly there can be nothing as palette fulfilling as enjoying this rich cake in layers after a long que at Demel Bakery or even better at The Sacher Hotel.
All old cafes serve their own ‘sachertorte’ but the original sachertorte is only at Hotel Sacher. The inevitable combo is the espresso that is served with loads of whipped cream.
6. Gorge over a sparking wine!
Weingut Wien Cobenzl – Vienna is the only city in the world that boasts of wineries within the city limits. Away from busy old district of Vienna, up in the elevated terrains lies Cobenzl, one of the best vineyards of Vienna. The city administration has encouraged a revival of old traditional wine making of Austria and currently 700 hectres of land across both sides of river Danube are now being ultilised for the same. Cobenzl vineyard that sits atop 19th district of Vienna offers a stunning wide angle view of the city and endless green of the vines. They organize curated wining tasting, sales and awesome vineyard walks, and as if it was not enough Cobenzl also is one of the most amazing wedding venues of Austria. Once your late afternoon vineyard trip is over, make sure to head off to their wine tavern or the cozy ‘heurige’ as the locals say for the most relaxing and amazing time – yes a traditional farm meal or supper with loads of wine awaits you there.
7.Shake a leg with Mozart !
Well Mozart is everywhere in Vienna! If you were just thinking of a regal evening at the Vienna State Opera you are right! Surely enjoy the musical evening at the baroque opera address that still holds a different programme everyday annually with over 60 operas and ballets and needless many of them are influences or directly connected to Mozart`s composition. Surely a lifetime experience.
One a lighter note do not forget to exchange a quick hello with the men who dress up as a look alike of Mozart as they sell tickets for smaller opera or musical events strolling in neighbourhood streets of the State Opera. And if still your heart is not full with Mozart, then don’t forget to carry back a box of Mozartkugel or Mozart chocolates.
The shy escort who had come to receive me at the Vijayawada airport was economical with his words – in a local tone he said “Ma’am this way” I followed him. As I sat in the allotted car for the guests of Novotel Vijayawada Varun, I breathed a fresh air and looked around.
Away from the grinds of the big city, I was here in the close embrace of nature surrounded by green as the car drove out of the airport, speeding towards the main city.
In twenty five minutes, I reached my destination – Novotel Vijayawada Varun, a plush luxury hotel. The hotel is one of the newest properties under the brand name of Novotel from Accor Group, located at Vijayawada city within the Amaravati Capital Region. Situated on the banks of river Krishna, Amaravati had been a prosperous kingdom from ancient times. Present day Amaravati has been chosen as capital of the newly formed Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, down south of the country.
For afar the sleek structure of the hotel looked like a silver drape drawing my attention. I sensed a hint of its design, the moment I stepped into the 15th floor hotel.With a total of wi-fi enabled 190 rooms, 25 apartments and 12 suites including 1 presidential suite, Vijayawada Varun is all about ergonomy packed with comforting luxury, an apt choice for the business meets that follows a leisure stay or even a long stay in one of those self-sufficient plentiful transit apartments.
There are no dearth of options though, whether you are a business traveller or someone who just wants to take a break from the grind and yet enjoy the comfort of a five star, Novotel Vijayawada is the inevitable choice in this part of the world.
Well it will be for me, with their most cozy, abundant rooms, a host of indulgent offerings including a phenomenally stunning infinity swimming pool that delivers a grand view, a spa that evokes your senses and a gym that keeps you in check, gently retaining that balance between lavish dinning and staying healthy.
And lastly it is their array of melange gastronomy in the form of food and beverage verticals; Food Exchange, Wugan the Pan Asian specialty restaurant, the infinite Andhra traditional food and finally the Gourmet Bar that reestablishes Accor`s signature hospitality, making you long for more.
The Unobtrusive Luxury
I have always believed in instinct and it prompted, its going to be fun, comforting and unwinding. The delicately decorated rooms had a palette of earth colours making them look visually appealing. Once I checked in, I drew apart the curtain, it was the perfect room with a view. My eyes met the lush green hills beyond.If you are traveller who soaks in the local experience, do not forget to draw the curtains apart.
There can be scenic surprises.
The coffee table had my invigorating welcome drink, made of tangy lime and fresh mint, along with the special handcrafted granola and chocolate bar as small token of goodness, neatly wrapped. Soon I got smitten by the little caffeine corner squirreled with handpicked variations of tea.
I already knew Novotel Vijayawada Varun was all set to indulge me. An absolutely energy spiking shower and I was ready to bring on three days of fulfilling luxury and ample comfort.
The stay started with the guided walk through the hotel. Basking in the strength of ergonomic design there were plush rooms, opulent suites, the newly introduced transit apartments, studios along with two conference and mice facilities marked with distinct decor interconnected via slender artistic corridors.
But cherry on the cake was the terrace infinity pool coupled with the gym – both offering vistas of serene hills.
While the terrace pleased me to no end, I was also fascinated by the bright open lobby at the ground level, where one can relax to no end. It is here that the hotel has four pampering choices interestingly built within the same space yet distinct.
The centre setting with fluorescent yellow sofas is post-modernist in its look, while the Gourmet Bar, a European concept is more of a slow unwind that has just started to take the fancy of the locals.
The other side of lobby holds the fantastic, colourful open kitchen – an experiential approach to food, where you are more than welcome to pick up your choice of breakfast, lunch, dinner buffets and order for Ala Carte. This is Food Exchange for you – honestly this is where I had spent most of my dining hours!
The first evening was planned fairly adventurous keeping the theme of progressive cuisine. Would you believe the scale of innovation that Chef Vinay and his team demonstrated! It was like a roller-coaster ride on my taste buds with dishes that had so many flavours to it. That was the most unforgettable evening for a foodie, food writer and intrinsic food lover like me. Chef Vinay rolled out the platter as he explained the back story to each of these mind blowing culinary creations situated between the local Andhra and the global flavours. My personal favourite was the flavourful Seared Sea Bass with Nallaa Karam Annam with Chinmichuri Buree Blanc!
How interesting was it to have an Andhra and a French flavour blended together!
The Wholesome Experience
When you are with Novotel you are going to check out the city as well. So, on the second day a drive to Kondapally Fort was scheduled followed by a visit to a traditional toy hub making Kondapally wooden toys.
While the visit to the 14th century fort perched on top of the Kondapally Hills was immense thrill, posing at the ruins and silently enjoying the expansive monument built by the Reddy kings, that looked like rugged brown drop amongst serene green hills swept by the monsoons.
Prenoon was spent at the colourful centre of toy making – with the namesake of Kondapally, a form of traditional wooden toys made by the local artisans using soft wood variety called ‘ponuku’ that grows much in abundance on the Kondapally range itself. Most craftsmen families had been working for generations, however many are now turning towards mechanical devices for a faster production! My eyes did spot the classic dancing dolls and the king on the royal elephant.
Back in the hotel the afternoon panned out to be super easygoing. The beautifully decorated spa Dew had a long lists of spa massages on their offerings. I opted for the 90minute session of Deep Tissue Massage. Honestly it turned out to be one of the most restorative pleasures for the tired urban citizen`s body and mind, being lulled into rejuvenation by the tender massage skills of one the best masseurs I have met in recent times. Annie the master masseur had perfected the art of relaxation and I just surrendered to her.
The evenings of Novotel Vijayawada Varun are dedicated to succulent gastronomy. The second evening was no exception only the quotient of magic heightened. Wugan – the Pan Asian specialty restaurant our venue for the evening, was designed on the lines of oriental aesthetics. The colour range selected for the interior of the vibrant eating spot was slightly brighter, set in the blue, white, golden and bronze with wooden panels creating a sense of privacy for those who want it.
In no time, under the perfect mentoring of Chief Chef Vinay, the Asian Chef Mir was happily showing off best of his food art thrills, quite a ninja act!The act got displayed through a five course meal, an assembly of authentic dishes from Japan, Thailand, China, Vietnam and more. Listening to Mir was fun as he and his colleagues skillfully rustled up some of the dishes right in there, with the diners watching in awe! My picks were Tom Kha Chicken soup and Soyu Dashi Prawns with grilled vegetables.
The evening just rolled by quickly and a long 8-hour cozy sleep invited me.
The Gourmet Bar – The Final Act of Warm Hospitality
Invariably the discovery continued the next day, while the day was spent visiting the Mangalagiri traditional weavers creating most enchanting weaves, the evening was divided into the desirous innovative cocktails with fusing alcohols like Vodka, laced with creativity! The top notch was Vasant Neer Thandhai ! Note the presence of the the famous Guntur Red Chili an important element in the vibrant mocktail
The final day`s dinner was an ode to the local Andhra traditional platter consisting twenty dishes from start to the end. For mandatory sweet lovers Chakra Pongali have to be last dish as well as dessert of choice. Its delicacy, sweetness and flavour fullness is simply symbolic to the hospitality that Novotel Vijaywada Varun offers.
Photos : Motly Krew and Novotel Vijayawada Varun
It won’t be far-fetched to use the expression that street art “is a movement” , or in a less intense statement, a dimension of outreach by artists who believe in its power and consider it an art form in itself. A thing which has now been accepted and gone beyond debate is that street art is one the most visible forms of expression with an unmistakable presence, covering social , political and cultural aspects.
The origin as many would point out is graffiti, is correct to a large extent. The emergence of graffiti artists during the 1970’s and 1980’s is considered to be a catalyst. It was a blend of eclectic creative work with a reflection of a social shade, angst, or maybe not. Over the years street art or its now known as urban art has carved a space for itself in the popular culture.
The walls of cities have been turned into canvas by amazingly gifted and brilliant artists.
Without diving in to the discussion of the distinction between graffiti and urban art, this is a tribute to the artists who have lifted up the drab surroundings of many a city around the globe. The dilapidated wall and buildings are transformed into colourful and meaningful art forms which have found the love of many.
Bandra in Mumbai has to have the distinction of being a treasure trove for some of the best and most fascinating urban art in India.
Every few hundred steps one can stumble upon engaging and brilliant pieces of street art.
It now seems to have merged so wonderfully with the surroundings, the walls , lanes and people that it is impossible to imagine Bandra without its signature urban art.
The most nameless artists who just leave a signature or an art name have made this art form enhance a location and turned it into a must see for travellers and art lovers who can be seen walking by in the lanes of Bandra, mostly armed with cameras or just admiring the eye catching choice of characters and colours.
XPO magazine sums it up to precision when talking about the street art of Banksy: “There is no language or cultural barrier for the viewer, no university degree in art history required or complicated theory to understand the work. Bam, it grabs you just like that!”
The Back Story –
While serving the intensely thick Shorba or soup made with loads of nut paste and chicken broth, Chef Nadeem Qureshi smiled. I was delighted looking at the creamy soup whose thickness and aroma was invigorating.
The Chef quipped, “well its no surprise as Awadhi royal cooking is all about flavours and how you finely balance the spices. I am just following the authentic tenets and adding my own creative elements to cater to an exclusive category of diners, who believe in fine, luxuriant food”.
We sit down over the newly launched lavish menu at the luxury Indian restaurant Soma of Grand Hyatt, Mumbai while engaging in a free flowing conversation with Chef Nadeem Qureshi, the creator of the refreshingly distinct and authentic menu.
Before I got into the divine act of savouring the platter, knowing where`s Nadeem`s touch of personal signature comes from was important.
Who does not know of the infinite kebabs and biriyanis that adorn the Awadhi royal food fare but what is fairly unknown is the beauty of the flavours used in the cooking of Awadh and the large range of spices associated. The other interesting quirk is the unique combination of vegetables and meat, in common parlance not easy to imagine.
The Chef quipped, “My grandmother used to combine simple vegetables with meat and they used to transform into the most exotic dishes. Moong Dal (split peas ) and mutton or bottle gourd and mutton. The flavour of each dish was distinct and tasted unparallel. Then there would be a Baghar Ka Chawal ( a rice dish) a fairly close cousin of pulao. At the household level too cooking was about spending much patient hours and the main fuel had to be invariably charcoal fire and nothing else. Here at Soma, I have reintroduced many of these culinary techniques, tracing from generations of authentic royal cooking of Lucknow.”
The Chef disappeared as I started my gastronomic indulgence, cherishing the select menu served at Soma.
The luxuriant food fare had loads to savour with varied dishes like:
Anari Jhinga ( lobster with pomegranate), Raan-e- Sikandari ( an authentic lamb
Ammi Ke Kache Gosht Ki Galawati ( Mum`s lamb kebabs)
Kale Jamun Ka Murgh Tikka ( Chicken Tikka in Black Plum)
Assorted Non-Vegetarian Kebabs
Creamy Dal Makhani ( Pulses in thick gravy)
Lobster Malai ( Lobster in coconut cream)
Mithai ka Dabba – The Dessert platter
The sprawling restaurant oozed aroma`s wafting through the air, drawing me to the food served.
Here`s the three top dishes that I would recommend for the indulgent connoisseur in you.
Lobster Malai ( Lobster in coconut cream) – An extremely tender lobster dish, this is meant for slow savouring. Cooked in the freshly extracted coconut cream sauce, the traditional one does not use curry leaves. But as the chef had mentioned, signatures only get created with innovation. Thus the curry leaves were the new add on, creating a very mild aroma, familiar to the luxury diner of the city, an instant connect with the coastal taste.
Kale Jamun Ke Murg Tikke – ( Chicken tikka in black plum)
Who can even think of plum being a key ingredient to a poultry dish, the Kale Jamun Ke Murg Tikke of Soma is a delectable twist in form of lip smacking dish.
Carefully crushed on a hand mortar, the tangy taste of plum is then combined with spices and murg or chicken transforming it into a dishes that is enticing and addictive least to say.
Mithai ka Dabba – The Dessert platter
Served in a decorative wooden chambered box, Mithai Ka Dabba translated literally the dessert box is a world in itself. Along with the popular ones, finds place the more exotic sweet dish like Thande Gulab Kheer or The Frozen Rose flavoured Rice Petal Pudding or Malai Makkan – the Sweet Buttery Cream.
Interestingly roses had always been used as an edible ingredient in the royal cooking and this delicious exotic sweet dish is cooked in milk and rosewater combine, before finally being topped with edible dried rose petals.
My lunch left me satisfied, not because the food was heavenly but because the food fare was a magical journey into taste and aroma.
Grand Hyatt Hotel and Residencies
Bandra Kurla Complex Vicinity,
Off Western Express Highway,
Santacruz East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400055
Phone: 022 6676 1234
Follow Us In Our Food Trail – Looking out for some Must Eats of Turkish Food
If you love food in all categories from starters to dessert to a cuppa and a lite bite then Turkey, the seat of erstwhile Ottoman Empire is the place to head off to. Actually Turkey is one of the few countries where even a ordinary conversation can turn into a delectable food experience.
From its mezze or platter of appetizers to its succulent kebabs locally addressed kebaps to its buttery pilaf and an array of absolutely fine desserts.
Turkish food is all about flavours and subtlety.
Turks love their vegetables, rice and meats that form the major elements of the local cuisine. Aroma is important in Turkish food and so is the freshness component. Copious quantities of garlic, tomato, fennel, aniseeds, cinnamon, basil, nuts and yogurts are used leading to its really flavourful dishes
Trailing through the universe of Turkish food that`s an empire in itself here`s the must on the list which without being savoured the food experience would remain incomplete.
Meze – Little is big here. In the world of appetisers , if there is something that lilts one and all, it has to be Meze. The possible variations of meze are interesting a chapter in itself, the ingredients remain healthy yet enticing. Such is the popularity of meze that there are designated restaurants called ‘meyhane’, that specialise in serving meze. The most sought after meze’s to name a few are, ,Grilled Eggplants with Yogurt (Patlıcan Ezmesi), Grilled Eggplant Salad (Patlıcan Salatası) Mint Yogurt Dip (Haydari), and the not to miss, Chili Tomato Paste (Ezme) purely because tomato is omnipresent in Turkish cuisine.
Adana Kebap – Lovers of mutton and non-vegetarian fare will never find themselves short of choices in Turkish cuisine. Adana kebap named after the city of Adana is a must have. The process of preparation is detailed, the result sinfully tempting. Minced meat is kneaded to a finer consistency, then added with minced garlic, grounded cumin, dried green hot pepper, fresh local red peppers to pack it with a punch of aroma, awakening the taste buds. Mounted on metal or wood skewers, it is charcoal grilled slowly and evenly. Served on a warm lavaş (a thin bread that`s pita like) accompanied by parsley, grilled onion, roasted tomato and a green / red pepper.
Kuzu Mutancana – A dish made with mutton shank, this delicacy literally melts in your mouth with hardly bothering you more than a few chews. The mutton is draped by dried apricots, abundant use of nuts is as rich and sumptuous as a dish can get. The finesse of this dish made me speak to the chef Mehmet who said “ this does require long and patient hours of cooking before it is served on the plate but all worth in the end when one hears praise or sees the satisfied expressions of the discerning diner on the table”. The smiling chef before rushing off back to the kitchen mentioned a Turkish proverb, “ The world is a pot and man is its ladle”.
Bal Kabagi –A Turkish dessert, made out of pumpkin chunks soaked in sugar syrup overnight. Once the chunks gets cooled down, they are dressed with walnuts and lots of fresh cream or even yogurt. The visual of this dessert actually can make you dive right in. Very simple, yet a refreshing sweet dish, this one is surely not to be missed. Although a traditional, seasonal dessert made during winter months in many Turkish homes, it is now served in restaurants throughout the year.
So when you are in Turkey – don`t forget to check out these absolute delicious delicacies!