It’s rare that a sensation of dizziness as one walks into a restaurant isn’t precisely proportionate to degrees of excitement at the pre-prandial aperitif hour. But as we tumble into Restaurant 57 at the superlative Melia Hotel in Danube City, Vienna’s slick business district, the sensation is, for once, short-lived. We’ve just been rocketed up the titular 57 floors in about three seconds flat, courtesy of a lift so lightening-fast that – were they capable of feelings of inadequacy – would make all the other lifts feel creaky and old in comparison, and spat out at the top floor of DC Tower, the capital’s most vertiginous skyscraper.
Keen to capitalise on the not unpleasant sensation, we immediately augment it with a swiftly dispatched cocktail at the eaterie’s adjoined and glossy Flow Bar, which has the air of the archetypal playground for well-heeled hard-working types who come for the requisite hard-play element of their days. It is here that, doubtless, the be-suited unwind from all the deals done in the surrounding towers with something well-shaken and laced with vodka. And although our work has been of the less arduous variety, our day spent scoffing bratwurst here and eyeing up Egon Schiele masterworks there, we find it apt to follow suit.
On sunny days, the views towards one of Europe’s most elegant, culturally packed yet curiously unsung cities and the Danube itself must be spectacular; it is so close that in daylight that you feel you might splash right into it were you to press too hard against the glass that dominates at the Dominique Perrault-designed tower. On the evening we visit, however, all the bobbing boats, the industry, the iconic ferris wheel, the 20th-century palaces to art and the 19th-century cream actual palaces are obscured by haze. We don’t mind; soon the pregnant grey clouds bursts forth, and all around us snow begins to fall. It’s somehow befitting both of the high drama of the Melia hotel’s building and the romance of the city beneath.
Cocktails and cooing over snow dispensed, we settle into our repast. As is apparently obligatory with the Melia group, the food and wine are exceptional. Many of the dishes come with a Spanish accent, nodding to the company’s Iberian origins, and include such delights as Iberico pork chops – quite unmissable when paired with a chilli mayonnaise – and some of the very finest padron peppers you’re likely to enjoy outside of Spain itself. Much of the meat and fish is cooked on the Josper Grill, that invaluable addition to any self-respecting restaurant; everything tastes impeccably fresh and healthy (we hope it was, at least; that chilli mayonnaise was moreish and greedily devoured). For those craving something suitably decadent, the ‘chocolate dream’ is very much in the realms of the fantastical; we had to share it, and even then it proved almost a step too much for us. Almost.
Many of the Viennese cognoscenti make their way to Danube City for dinner at Restaurant 57 alone and it’s easy to see why. But to eschew the rooms occupying the other 56 floors of the 220-metre Melia Hotel in the DC Tower, would be an oversight indeed. Every room in the eco-friendly building is, in fact, a suite, and the piece de resistance of each is its spectacular panorama. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the cityscape beyond in dramatic style, its twinkling lights beckoning explorers enticingly. But while the views provide the high drama, the room itself supplies the all-important details. A masterclass in sublime minimalism, black accents – particularly in the so-slick-you-might-slip-on-it bathroom – set off the prevailing white to sensational effect. And since Vienna is a city teeming with coffee connoisseurs, thanks to its rich coffee house heritage, the Melia’s caffeine provision is suitably high-end, with Nespresso machines in every room.
A wrench though it might be to leave the spectacular surrounds of the Melia, those views render the visitor powerless to resist Vienna’s myriad charms. But before you venture across the river, do take time to take in Danube City itself (noting, on the way out, the spectacular spiral staircase in the lobby, complete with shimmering gold underbelly). The area itself has all the sophistication that the rest of the city displays, albeit in a modern rather than fin-de-siecle context. And while in the old centre one might enjoy parading around avenues and parks, here it’s the skyscrapers and signs of industry that dominate.
Just as well, then, that the Melia has established itself since its opening in 2014 as one of the city’s best spots both for visiting businessmen and general travellers. We’re sorry, Ultravox, but on the contrary; it means a good deal to us.
Located in the tallest skyscraper of Austria, The Danube Tower, prices at Melia Vienna start from £101. For more information, visit www.melia.com.