The History of Hotel Stefanie – Part 9
Hotel Stefanie: Honoring Tradition
Over the course of the past year, you got to know many different chapters of the history of Vienna’s oldest hotel: its surroundings, the people and the building in good as well as difficult times since July 8, 1600. The Schick family, which now manages the Hotel Stefanie in its fourth generation, is dedicated to maintaining the hotel’s history for the next generations. Read how they manage to accomplish this task in today’s ninth and final blog article on the history of the oldest hotel in Vienna.
Special flair at Hotel Stefanie
Having a history is one thing. Spotlighting that history while offering guests the comfort they rightfully expect nowadays is quite another. Like my boss, Dr. Martin Schick, likes to say, “No one wants a dirty old box.” This is why the Schick family has invested heavily into renovation in recent years and made the spirit of days past palpable with fine accents, such as a playful wash basin in the bathrooms, an embroidered velvet pillow on the sofa in the rooms, or an elegant leather folder containing information about the hotel and room.
You’ll also recognize tradition from the chambermaids or the insignias on the lapels of some receptionists: two crossed golden keys, the symbol of the “Clefs d’Or Austria” (Golden Keys Austria), the association of Austrian hotel concierges, which was even headquartered at the Hotel Stefanie for several years. The keys pertain to the times when a concierge (French for “doorman”) acted as the gatekeeper of a mansion and had to store the keys carefully.
Antiques as contemporary witnesses
You’ll find a much older key still, in a large frame across from the reception. This key concerns the “Original Imperial Royal Suite Key of the Imperial Chamberlain for His Majesty Emperor Franz Joseph I” (Emperor of Austria, 1848–1916), conferred to the Imperial Chamberlain, Franz Thomas von Bourcy, Chamberlain, 1882. The task of a chamberlain consisted in ceremonial assistance, for starters, such as helping a prince put on or take off his garments, assisting with a manorial ride or while traveling. As a symbol of his rank, the chamberlain was permitted to carry a key that symbolized the authorization to access the imperial chambers.
This key really suits the lobby of the Hotel Stefanie, the oldest hotel in Vienna. It is but one of many “contemporary witnesses” that the Schick family has collected for years and exhibits throughout the hotel. Exceptional pieces such as the finest silverware, porcelain service sets, glasses and elaborately designed clocks from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as antique furniture, decorate the lounge and the restaurant in particular.
In addition, among the antiques are several original objects that were in the possession of Princess Stephanie, such as a wash set with a magnificent pitcher and washing pan, and a fan.
For Dr. Schick, it is always a great pleasure to see guests standing and marveling in front of the display cabinets and pictures.
Protecting from oblivion – the book
“If I don’t write it down now, the knowledge disappears and with it many stories about the Hotel Stefanie,” Dr. Martin Schick says.
It was a matter close to his heart to have the stories about the oldest hotel professionally researched by a historian on the one hand and on the other to refine them with personal anecdotes. Along the way, we obtained proof that we really are the oldest hotel in Vienna. According to Dr. Schick, “History and dates are often all too quickly ‘pulled out of a hat’. However, we have the documents and proof of our past.”
If you’d like to read the history of the oldest hotel in Vienna, a book dedicated to the subject is available for purchase at the reception of the Hotel Stefanie.