Café Schwarzenberg

Kärntner Ring 17, 1010 Wien, Austria

Lovers of Vienna’s homegrown early-20th-century Wiener Werkstätte design style will want to visit the Café Schwarzenberg: It was the preferred haunt of Josef Hoffmann. The illustrious architect who cofounded the Werkstätte drafted many ideas there that came to fruition. Opened on the Ringstrasse in 1861, the café takes its name from the nearby square that is itself named for the Prince of Schwarzenberg, a prominent Austrian field marshal in the Napoleonic wars. Guests are treated to huge vaulted windows under high ceilings and those who sit outside on the terrace enjoy views of the illuminated Karlskirche dome while they sip their Einspänner coffee with its dab of whipped cream on top.

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Café Schwarzenberg, Vienna

When it’s December, cold and raw in Vienna, and you’ve been wandering the streets (perhaps a bit lost in search of say, Hotel Sacher), and you pass by Café Schwarzenberg for the second time—it’s a sign that you should go in and take the chill off..

The café is the oldest coffeehouse (opened in 1861) on the Ringstrasse and one of the loveliest and most authentic in every way. As soon as I opened the door, I knew I’d made the right decision. A rush of warm air, and an old-fashioned glass display case full of beautiful pastries greeted me. Beyond, an older man in a suit sat at a little table with the newspaper in front of him; not far away two women were conversing quietly, over what looked like silver pots of tea. When a server motioned for me to sit wherever—I pulled up a chair at one of the marble-topped round tables near the women. As I unpeeled my scarf, removed my gloves and then perused the menu, I knew almost immediately what I was going to order.

The Schwarzenberg-Cappuccino: espresso with hot chocolate, whipped cream and chocolate flakes. It arrived in the traditional Austrian way—on a silver tray accompanied with a glass of water and a spoon, served by a proper waiter who barely smiled. But it warmed me all the way through. (And it was real whipped cream.)

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