Vienna's new city centre homes

Offices are being converted into new homes in the heart of Vienna, surrounded by classical grandeur and Baroque palaces
As classical and cultured as a Strauss waltz, Vienna might seem a little stiff at first to those more used to cities with a bohemian edge. Yet search behind the serious art collections and the elegant Hapsburg architecture and you'll find that Vienna has another side.

You can see it in the fashionable boutiques of the intimate 5th and 6th districts and the Zaha Hadid-designed library under construction in the 2nd district. Vienna, a city that can certainly take itself seriously, also provides space to relax with 23 lidos and a dozen lakes. It so impressed Mercer's quality of living survey that it has been named top global city for ease of living for an impressive four years in a row.

As Austria's capital and, indeed, its only city of any significant size, nearly half of compact Vienna is given over to green space, the most of any European city, and it is the only European capital with a vineyard within the city limits.

Vienna
© Alamy
A horse-driven taxi crosses Helfenplatz in front of the vast façade of Vienna's Hofburg Palace

Building on tradition
"Just as in many cities worldwide, Viennese authorities are keen to encourage residents back into the centre," says Robert Leingruber of developers Signa Holding.

"This appears to be working, and local demand is matched by demand from foreigners, notably Russians, Germans and Turks, who appreciate the security Austria provides.

"Vienna is attractive for tourism and also business, with organisations such as OPEC, the United Nations and General Motors all based here."

The classical grandeur of the 1st District, Vienna's heart with its Baroque palaces and monumental façades leaving precious little space for new-build, is where developers are keenest to turn office space back to residential.

Signa is developing Goldenes Quartiers, two buildings on the prized pedestrian retail area, into a complex of 18 super-smart shops, a Park Hyatt Hotel and 12 apartments for sale. Prada, Armani and YSL have already signed up.

The freehold apartments are on the top two floors of the grand building, providing a bird's-eye view of landmarks such as St Stephen's Cathedral. Prices start from £4.16 million for a high-ceilinged duplex apartment of 2,152sq ft with parking available. To date, four have sold, with the rarity value of a grand apartment slap in the city centre accounting for the high price. Visit goldenquartier.com.

Vienna holiday homes
Knight Frank has 48 new apartments in Embassy Row starting from £407,400. Visit knightfrank.com
Elsewhere, 48 new two- and three-bedroom apartments in an eco-sensitive building in Embassy Row start from £407,400, and a refurbished one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a late 1800 building in the centre is £590,000, both through Knightfrank.com.

Style and humour
Hotel Sans Souci, in the city's majestic Museum Quarter, is a 63-suite hotel with 15 apartments from £594,230. Opened in December 2012, its owner, Norbert Winkelmayer, has taken a classic 19th-century building and injected high design, courtesy of design brand 'yoo' and more than a little stylish humour in Vienna's first hotel residences.

The Austrian businessman donated from his own extraordinary art collection, hanging Picassos and Lichtensteins around the hotel beside furniture by Tom Dixon and Arne Jacobsen. A fabulous spa with Vienna's longest indoor pool, lit by a dramatically over-the-top chandelier, light wood floors and exuberant but considered use of the owner's beloved purple all merge the best of tradition and contemporary style.

The remaining five apartments range from 755 to 3,660sq ft and benefit from full hotel services. Visit yoo.com.

Contacts and fact file
Goldenes Quartiers: 00 43 1532 9848; goldenesquartier.com
Sans Souci: 020 7009 0100; yoo.com
Knight Frank: 020 7629 8171; knightfrank.com
Buying costs: allow 8-10 per cent buying costs in Vienna

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