Above images via Daniel
As someone who travels regularly, it recently struck me how limited options are when it comes to mid-range hotels. Having stayed everywhere from the Intercontinental to luxury country spas to hostels where used sanitary products (yum) lined the furnishings, I realised that few “budget” hotels exist in the middle. At a 3* hotel, prices remained steep, yet cleanliness, facilities and customer service were the first to be compromised, and the management got away with it. Why couldn’t there be a “no frills” place which married cleanliness, comfort and affordability? In light of this, it now makes more sense to stay in an Airbnb, seek out a flat on Gumtree (for short breaks in the UK) or bite the (admittedly small) bullet and couchsurf. “Smart travel” is no longer a solely young people phenomenon – the breadth of the age range of TripAdvisor reviewers testifies this. Luckily, some companies are becoming clued up on “the gap”, and my stay at Hotel Daniel in Vienna felt like a leap in the right direction.
“Smart luxury at a fair price” is the slogan of the Hotel Daniel, and the subtitle is “Urban Stay”, precisely because it is tailored towards savvy travellers who want to be comfortable sans traditionalist excess. The prices range from €95 per night if you just want the basics, to €172 if you want a hammock in the room, a stay inside the metal caravan outside the main building or an expansive view onto Schloss Belvedere (yup, that castle with all the Klimt and the chocolate box gardens; more on that in another post).
Before I start, a short disclaimer: in many ways, my experience at hotels differs to most people’s. Where my friends struggle with noise, I sleep like a tank; while others scrutinise the hotel restaurant, I would be oblivious to pitfalls in the menu, because my dietary requirements (loosely paleo if you had to label them) mean I usually make/bring my own food. Likewise, I often excuse poor decor (although when it’s there, it’s nice). Pristine cleanliness, security and comfort are probably my only strict demands when it comes to travel, so for fairness’ sake, I perused the “poor” and “terrible” reviews on TripAdvisor, and decided to write with them in mind, so that, hopefully, my opinion will be helpful to a lot of you.
One aspect about Hotel Daniel seems to divide opinions, and that is the minimalist design of its rooms. For me, the bare concrete ceilings and uncovered lamps added to the charm rather than detracted from it. I mean, 1. it’s not like you spend the majority of your time at a hotel walking around staring upwards at ceilings, and 2. they are too high up to touch or affect you in any way. The clear windows in the shower meant that there was a bit of a faff with closing blinds, but I did have a corner room on the ground floor (just past the reception). It would be more of a problem if you stayed in another area of the hotel, I think. From the sounds of other reviewers, the noise also varies depending which room you are in (I relished the lack thereof), so if you are sensitive, ask for a quieter room when making your reservation. Sheets/towels were freshly laundered and the carpet also seemed very clean (can you tell I’m a germophobe?), and the taste of sleep in the bed was delicious. The only thing I’d have liked to see altered would be the addition of a mini-fridge and kettle.
Oh my jeans. Where to start. An accidental 24 hour fast almost ended me at the Daniel, as a result of foregoing lunch on the plane and miscalculating how early supermarkets closed in that part of Vienna. With only packets of Miso soup in my possession and the hotel restaurant having shut for the night, I ordered my first ever takeaway online. However, as two long hours passed it was clear that the takeaway, too, decided to pass me by. So I woke up at 7am, at the “so hungry I’m long past the hungry stage” stomach milestone.
My perception of the hotel breakfast, therefore, is coloured with affectionate desperation. I exaggerate: even my clouded mind managed to register that the selection was way better than continental breakfast served at most hotels, full of croissants and rainbow-coloured cereals that I couldn’t eat. The boiled eggs, served on a bed of coffee beans, were runny in the most perfect way, and unlimited helpings of roasted pepper, aubergine and mushroom antipasti, plus salad, were a double-brownie-points accompaniment. I’m wheat-free, but the bread came in several varieties and most seemed fresh, direct from the Daniel Bakery. There was also lots and lots of cereal/granola and fresh (not squash)-looking fruit juice. Yummy mummy (and daddy).
The hotel lounge (more like a cosy conservatory/veranda) was my favourite part of the Daniel. Picking up plates from next to pot plants and reading about the bees kept on the hotel roof (whom I would have loved to meet, but was, sadly, in a hurry) whilst drinking green tea… you get the picture. The photos represent it well.
Location and bike hire:
A little way out of the city centre, which was a problem for me because of lack of shops and restaurants nearby. However, the underground station is within a five-minute walk from the hotel. You can also rent out a bicycle or a Vespa from the hotel if you prefer touring the Austrian capital on two wheels rather than relying on taxis and public transport.
I arrived in the late evening, and the night porter on reception unsmilingly asked what I wanted, handed me the keys without showing me where to go or giving me the WiFi password (or any other info, but like, internet, like, priorities). In contrast to him, the morning staff at the desk were all lovely.
Solo travel when you want to splurge, and if breakfast is important.
This review is a guest post by Dina Tsesarsky — you can find her original post and other pieces of her work at She Loves Mixtapes. Disclaimer: we cannot be held responsible for intense feelings towards her socks.