The SO/ Vienna impressed me only after looking at its photos on the Internet, especially those of a panoramic view taken from the18th floor Das LOFT restaurant. Has the hotel come up to my expectations? Read my review to find it out.
THE WORLD OF JEAN NOUVEL
The building, the construction of which took five years, was erected in 2010. It was designed by the world-wide known French architect Jean Nouvel, a laureate of Pritzker Prize and an architect of such buildings as Torre Agbar in Barcelona and The Louvre of Abu Dhabi. The multidimensional block consists of different texture walls forming a light, modern building on a relatively small area. Originally Nouvel’s concept involved the use of only three colours: white, grey and black. In contrast to these colours stand out the works of the Swiss artist – Pipilotti Rist, which can be seen on the ceilings – over the entrance, in the internal lobby with terraces and in the restaurant on the top floor. They are compositions of computer printout and computer generated, digitally sequenced animations changing in real time on a ring-shaped screens mounted on the ceilings. I must admit that all the compositions make a lasting impression and the photographs do not even come close to capturing the brilliance of these images.
After the process of rebranding the hotel opened again in September 2018 as SO/ Vienna, which is a Sofitel sub-mark. The interior changes introduced by Eichinger Offices Partnership include the design of the reception desk as well as the decoration of the new Café BAR/terre by the entrance to the hotel. Additionally, some coloristic accents have been added in the hotel rooms (the walls, the inside of wardrobes, lamps and sofas). Personally, I am in favour of the original, minimalist design proposed by Nouvel, but it is certainly a question of taste.If you are interested in Nouvel’s architectural concepts, I recommend visiting the official website of his atelier, where you can see the original design of the hotel rooms and interesting sectional views and architectural plans of the building.
The SO/ Vienna – situated at the edge of Vienna center, right on the Danube Canal – is within easy walking distance of the city’s major attractions. You can get from the airport to the hotel by S-Bahn or Metro. It also offers transfers by Mercedes limo (E &S class and Vito) at the price of €55. A parking space in the underground car park costs €30 per night.
The check-in (in German) was quick and efficient. As usual, I used the option of online check-in for the members of the Le Club program, so the room card was prepared for me in advance. Among other benefits of this status, I received an upgrade to the Prestige Suite on the 17th floor overlooking the centre of Vienna, a voucher for a drink (a large selection – almost everything from the drinks list), a welcome gift (cookies and an apple) and an access code for Internet Premium. I also asked for a late check-out (at 6 pm) and my request was fulfilled without any problems. The receptionist was very kind and competent, she explained where I can find the health spa and the business center and informed me about breakfast serving hours. Another staff member took care of my luggage, which was delivered straight to my room.
So LOFTY in SO/ Vienna
The SO Lofty belongs to the highest category of rooms in this hotel. The only more luxurious apartment is the 180 square metre SO VIP, also situated on the 17th floor.
My suite, which spread over 80 square meters, was modern, mainly in grey colour with red accents and it featured a hall, living room, two toilets (both entirely white), a wardrobe and a sleeping room with an open bathroom containing both a bath and a shower. The red accents, additionally found in the wardrobe interior, are the result of this year’s refurbishing – according to Nouvel’s original concept, the whole suite, including bed-linen, used to be grey.
The living room was spacious and consisted of a lounge area with a grey-red sofa and a big table. In the hallway inside the wardrobe there were a yoga mat and dumbbells supplemented with a description of recommended exercises. What is more, the room featured a mini-bar stocked with complimentary soft drinks (water and juices) and a Nespresso coffee maker, placed close to the table alongside some hotel Vienna guides and a free postcard depicting a stunning view from the hotel windows. On the wall there was a big LCD television. What also captured my attention in the room were the ingenious blinds, obviously grey in colour, which in fact were sliding panels that had to be moved as a whole to cover the windows. However, they are usually useless as the view from this apartment is magnificent.
The bigger part of the bedroom was occupied by a comfortable Sofitel MyBed with bedside lamps and four pillows. Behind the bed one could find a BOSE music set, wall sockets and a Pillow Menu. Next to the bed, by the wall there was a writing desk with a hidden panel of various ports and an electric outlet.
An LCD TV set was mounted on the wall near the desk and in front of it there was a grey (no surprise!) armchair with a footstool. There was also a dressing table with big mirror close to the bathroom.
The bedroom was linked to an open-plan bathroom, which was entirely grey, as you might expect, and it contained a showerhead, a bath and two washbasins recessed in the countertop.
There were towels, dressing-gowns, as well as Hermes cosmetics and accessories made under the hotel’s own brand name – Sofitel. The bathroom could be separated from the main sleeping area with the use of sliding panels hidden in the wall.
The only problem I experienced during my stay there was related to cosmetics. Although a few times I requested that the staff replenished them, nobody did it until the next morning, but as an apology for this inconvenience I was offered a big set of large size (200ml) Hermes toiletries.
It is important that the hotel was able to handle this situation properly, yet this should not have happened.
The suite was well-prepared for my stay as far as cleanness and the standard of fittings are concerned; on account of refurbishment works both the sofa and the table were replaced with new ones.
The air conditioning was efficient and worked only when all windows were closed. It was possible to adjust it in each room thanks to control panels.
Turn-down service, in other words preparing the bedroom for sleep, involved being asked by a chambermaid what I needed (water, cosmetics, coffee, tea) in the evening. However, there was no traditional turn-down, which I experienced, for example in the Sofitel Victoria, and which meant to make the bed and dim the lights.
Breakfast is served in Das LOFT restaurant on the 18th floor from 6:30 am to 10:30 am and till noon at weekends during summer. The restaurant (awarded with one Michelin star) is capacious and gives panoramic views of Vienna
The breakfast itself was hearty and the waiters spoke English and German fluently. Apart from generous buffets offering bread, charcuterie, cheeses, fruits, muesli, regional specialties, FIT foods and products for allergy sufferers, you could also order dishes from the menu: eggs Benedict, hard or soft-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and omelets with ingredients of your choice.
Among flour dishes you could choose pancakes and wafers of different kind. Additionally, there were French toasts available with various toppings, Chinese breakfast and a mysterious So Tasty dish, which I did not taste.
I ordered eggs Benedict, pancakes and wafers; all these dishes were delicious and promptly served. The service was exemplary, the waiters were always ready to top up my glass and cup with fresh juices and coffee. There were no problems getting white coffee with lactose-free milk.
The cost of breakfast for those who do not have it included in the room price amounts to Euro 39 (when with Prosecco). All alcohols have to be paid for extra.
So SPA and SO FIT
Located on the 5th floor of the hotel, SO SPA is open from 10 am till 9 pm (the gym/fitness room is open 24 hours). It features a steam bath, sauna, Jacuzzi, a relaxing room, state-of-the-art gym and treatment rooms. The SPA seemed to be quite intimate, during my stay I met only a few people there. What is more, Cinq Mondes and Carita products as well as other cosmetic accessories, towels and drinking water are available there free of charge.
Everywhere in the SPA you are surrounded by Jean Nouvel architecture. From the sauna and Jacuzzi you can have a spectacular view over Vienna and from the relaxing room you can see the internal courtyard. Another unquestionable attraction of the hotel SPA are its terraces with comfortable couches from which you can admire the city through the picture windows.
ADDITIONAL SERVICES OFFERED
On the 1st floor there are a business centre and a library, where the hotel guests can use computers, printers and copying machines and read books on art and architecture. There is also a Concierge stand close to the reception desk.
All members of the hotel staff were competent and cheerful and breakfast service was absolutely perfect. The only incident with cosmetics, mentioned earlier, caused a minor inconvenience. There was no problem with communication in English, German or Polish.
The check-out was quick and efficient; I obtained the extension of my stay until 6pm without any problems. On my departure form the hotel the receptionist asked (this time in English) about my impressions of the stay in Vienna and offered to order a taxi.
SO/ VIENNA PRICES
I paid €225 a night for a room with breakfast. The privileges mentioned earlier were granted to me as a member of the Le Club program. Standard room prices in this hotel start at €200 a night.
The SO/ Vienna is above all beautiful, modern, minimalist architecture of Jean Nouvel, standing in stark contrast to the traditional centre of Vienna. It is also breathtaking views that the guests can enjoy not only from Das LOFT restaurant but also from the hotel rooms.
The SO Lofty suite I stayed in was amazingly comfortable and spacious, and the possibility of separating different parts of the apartment by the use of sliding panels made it very practical. The breakfast was sumptuous and delicious, and the service first-class. The problem with cosmetics turned out to be incidental, and in any case the hotel apologized and compensated me for the inconvenience. Apart from that, the service was faultless.
If you are looking for an exceptional place within a short distance from the centre of Vienna, the SO/ Vienna is the perfect choice.
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