While Austria's imperial monuments and scenic wonders remain eternal, here are some of the latest developments that might affect your trip.
Accommodations -- With its young, modern, and chic design, Falkensteiner Hotel Am Schottenfeld, Schottenfeldgasse 74 (tel. 01/526-5181), is perhaps the most dramatically lit hotel in Vienna. The Falkensteiner offers elegant rooms of contemporary comfort and tasteful appointments, along with marble-floored bathrooms. It's filled with thoughtful extras from its kids' club to its Turkish bath.
Dining -- A hot new dining choice for Vienna, drawing the serious foodie, is Dining Room, Maygasse 31 (tel. 01/804-8586), where reservations are imperative because the restaurant can only accommodate 12 diners. The setting for some of the finest international cuisine served in Vienna is a private home, an intimate little hideaway that is the address of the owner and chef, Angelika Apfelthaler. She prepares each meal herself and often dedicates her dinners to a special theme, perhaps Moroccan nights.
Attractions -- In late 2008, Vienna's public transport authorities will unveil new connections on Vienna's famous Ring Boulevard, which, for the first time, will be linked to the heart of the city and many of the most visited tourist attractions of the First District. However, the entire round of the Ring Boulevard will not be changed.
The new line will link all the major sights along the Ring, including the Burgtheater, City Hall, Parliament, and the Fine Art and Natural History museums, along with the Vienna State Opera. A new line 2 will run not only to the Hofburg, but also to the Stadpark, MAK (Museum of Applied Art), the Urania, and Schwedenplatz.
The famed Lippizzaner Museum, in the Hofburg Palace, has closed due to lack of funding. The museum, a favorite of horse lovers, traced the history of the Spanish Riding School, which still remains open in spite of money problems.
Shopping -- For art lovers, a unique shopping adventure can be found at M-ARS, 9 Westbahnstrasse (tel. 01/890-5803). This is a "supermarket," stocked not with groceries but with works of art. You can literally take a shopping cart around with you. Rest assured that many works of art begin at only $15. More than 1,000 paintings, sculptures, and photographs -- the work of some 50 artists -- are on sale.
After it received international publicity, Gegenbauer, Gegenbauer 14, Naschmarkt (tel. 01/604-1088), is attracting gourmets from around the world. It offers the greatest collection of artisan vinegars in Austria, some 50 in all, plus 20 specialty oils. It's been in business since 1929, although only in 2008 did it become recognized for its rare offerings such as tomato vinegar. You can even purchase vinegar that's made from beer.
After Dark -- More and more club-goers are flocking to the Babenberger Passage, Ringstrasse at Babenbergerstrasse (tel. 01/961-8800), the most futuristic club in Vienna, evoking a spaceship. There's dancing in a romantically contemporary bar, and the bartenders serve some of the best cocktails in Vienna.
Installed in a cavernous underground station, Club Cavina, Josefstadtstrasse 84/Stadtbahnbogen (tel. 01/406-4322), presents live music. It's one of the hippest clubs in Vienna, attracting artsy types.
Dining -- In the former imperial city of Wiener Neustadt, Gastube Stachl, Lange Gasse 20 (tel. 02622/25221), has moved up the culinary scale and is now cited as the best place to dine within the city. It lies in the heart of town in an all-pedestrian zone. Its chefs prepare a Continental cuisine that has the old Austrian favorites, such as Wiener schnitzel, but also does more modern dishes such as strips of marinated salmon with pesto sauce.
Accommodations -- On the outskirts of the city at Gersberg, Romantic Hotel Die Gersberg, Gersberg 37 (tel. 0662/641257), has been restored and now is one of the most atmospheric places to stay in the region. Only a 15-minute drive from the center of Salzburg, it dates from the 16th century, when it began life as a farmstead. From a summer garden to a blazing fireplace in winter, it has all the charm of yesterday -- along with modern comforts.
Dining -- The chic Hotel Bristol, Makartplatz 4 (tel. 0662/873557), has opened the trendy Polo Lounge, serving a first-rate cuisine, mainly Austrian, Italian, and international. The venue is stately and baronial, with large-scale oil paintings, and the meticulous cooking is equally opulent.
Strassewirt, Leopoldkronestrasse 39 (tel. 0662/826391), is the latest first-class restaurant to burst onto the scene, lying a 10-minute walk south of the historic core of Salzburg. Occupying three indoor dining rooms and a well-landscaped garden, it lies in a renovated building 2 centuries old. Market-fresh menu items celebrate the cuisine and the agrarian bounty of Austria, including lamb from nearby mountains.
Attractions -- Salzburg has opened a number of new museums lately, including a series of attractions in the Salzburg Museum/Neue Residenz, which was built in the 1600s to house overflow guests from Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich's palace. The entrance is on Mozartplatz 1 (tel. 0662/620808-700). Some of the highlights of this new museum are rare archaeological treasures once housed in the Museum Carolino Augusteum, including Hallstatt Age relics, paintings by Old Masters, and Gothic panel art.
Accommodations -- In the old spa town of Badgastein, once patronized by Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck, the landmark hotel, Elisabethpark, has come under new ownership at its address at Franz-Josef-Strasse 5 (tel. 06434/25510). New owners have vastly improved the hotel, which was pretty good to begin with. Two hotel shuttle buses now take you to and from the train station.
Dining -- A chic a-la-carte restaurant and wine bar, Prälatur is among the most elegant places to dine in town, with its traditional and innovative specialties. Sisi, named after the ill-fated empress, is a traditional Austrian coffeehouse with various specialty coffees and a large selection of the most delicious cakes and pastries in town.
Accommodations -- In the provincial capital of Linz, Drei Mohren, Promenade 17 (tel. 0732/772626-0), has been so vastly improved that it is now rated four stars by the government (the smallest hotel in the area with such a high rating). It has only 25 units, which makes it a boutique hotel. The atmosphere is intimate, the service topnotch. The rooms are spread across three restored buildings from the 16th century, which have been considerably modernized.
Dining -- Herberstein, Alstadt 10 (tel. 0732/786161), may be in a historic building in the old town, but it has improved its menu and its setting so much that it is now one of the most stylish dining venues in the city. It has both an inviting courtyard and a lively bar scene, and its fusion cuisine, both Austrian and Asian, makes Herberstein come out at the top of the heap.
Dining -- In the capital of the Tyrol, Lichtblick, Maria-Theresienstrasse 18 (tel. 0512/566550), occupies the seventh floor of the Rathausgalerie in the center of town. An international restaurant, a chic dining spot has been installed here, with vistas over the Alstadt or old city. Market-fresh ingredients are used to concoct a sublime cuisine, and there is also the adjoining Café Bar Lounge 360, which is the most dramatic place at which to have a drink in Innsbruck.
Accommodations -- In this far-western province, the city of Feldkirch makes an ideal stopover. Recent improvements in its rooms and cuisine are drawing more discerning visitors to Landgasthof Schäfle at Naflastrasse 3 at Feldkirch-Altenstadt (tel. 05522/72203). Here you can rent a cozy, comfortably furnished bedroom or dine on a superb Austrian and continental cuisine. In fair weather, tables are placed in the manicured garden. The hotel is good value in expensive Austria, with double bedrooms costing 90€ ($144), or a fixed-price menu going for 15€ ($24).
Accommodations -- In the capital city of the province, Klagenfurt, Das Salzamt Palais Hotel Landhaus, Landhaushof 3 (tel. 0463/590959), has opened in a restored Renaissance palace in the heart of the city. Originally, the building was a former town salt tax office, but today it offers lushly decorated bedrooms, luxurious bathrooms (some with whirlpool baths), and heavenly beds. Personal service is a hallmark of this boutique hotel, as there are only 27 units.
Another small boutique hotel, a pocket of posh, has opened. It's Palais Porcia, Neuereplatz 13 (tel. 0463/511590-30), in a restored former town palace dating from the 18th century and once belonging to the Italian princes of the House of Porcia. Bedrooms are stylish with baroque embellishments and Biedermeier antiques. Four-poster beds and antique art add to the charm.
Dining -- In the capital of the province, the city of Graz, Arnold Schwarzenegger's hometown, the Sacher restaurant and cafe has opened at Herrengasse 6 (tel. 0316/8005-0) and has immediately become a chic rendezvous stopover. With a classic Austrian menu, chefs turn out such long-enduring favorites as tafelspitz (boiled beef) and Wiener schnitzel. Of course, they also make the famed Sacher torte, a chocolate lover's fantasy dessert.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.