Today’s Story – Vienna’s Oldest Hotel
Imagine – it’s summer in the year 1600:
You’ve been traveling for weeks with a wagon full of your wares, which you would like to sell in Vienna. You’re tired, you can feel in your bones the trip along mostly little-paved roads. The city emerges before your eyes, life around you becomes ever more active, more and more buildings border the Taborstrasse, which leads to the bridge into the city. Ahead, to the left, there is accommodation. It looks cozy, and you’ll stay here to reinvigorate yourself so that you can conduct your business the next day.
400 years later:
This morning you were still in New York, but now, in the late evening, you’re at the Vienna International Airport, waiting for your luggage. You’re tired, you can feel in your bones that you were sitting for hours in the airplane, and it was a turbulent flight. After a short taxi ride, the city emerges before your eyes. It looks cozy, not as hectic as in America, and this feels good. You turn onto Taborstrasse. Ahead, to the right, there is a hotel where you reserved a room so that you can be reinvigorated for your business appointment the next day.
In the year 1600 there were many inns in Vienna. Today, there are many more hotels in Vienna, yet I’m speaking of one and the same building: the Hotel Stefanie, Vienna’s oldest hotel. It’s hard to believe.
“History and dates are often quickly pulled out of a hat. We, on the other hand, have the documents and proof of our past,” Dr. Martin Schick, my boss and the owner of the Schick Hotels, said. He continued: “There are many hotels in Vienna, but the history, one of the few things in life money can’t buy, make the Hotel Stefanie unique.” I can only agree wholeheartedly!
The book about the hotel’s history
To make the hotel’s history palpable, over the course of the last year a book was written on the Hotel Stefanie that describes the impressive development of the hotel from the year 1600 to the present day. Intensive research was conducted under the guidance of a historian: Documents were combed through, photographs sorted and many long discussions conducted. The book’s 88 pages contain stories about the building, its surroundings, as well as the Schick family itself.
A brief overview
On July 8, 1600, a “Gastgeb” (inn) was mentioned in official documents for the first time at the site of today’s Hotel Stefanie. From time immemorial, the Taborstrasse has been the access road from the northeastern part of the Habsburg empire into the center of Vienna. For this reason, a number of lodging establishments settled here, just in front of the city gates. The “White Rose”, which later became the Hotel Stefanie, soon became one of the best lodging establishments in the imperial city of Vienna and is however, the only one to have been mentioned in the building registers continuously for 400 years.
In 1888 Carl Witzmann, the great-grandfather of the current owner, acquired the hotel and renamed it the “Hotel Stefanie” in memory of the marriage of Crown Prince Rudolf with Princess Stéphanie of Belgium. At the time, the building had over 110 guest rooms and was among the largest hotels in Vienna.
In the coming weeks, I’ll give you some insight into this wonderful “biography of Taborstrasse 12” and will be happy for you to continue this journey with me.
By the way, would you like more details? The book is available for purchase at the reception in the Hotel Stefanie.