As you make your way down the snowy path from warmly lit stall to stall in search of trinkets and handicrafts, you catch the scent of roasting chestnuts. You stop to buy a small glass figurine at one of the wooden shops and gaze at the softly floating snowflakes as the seller wraps your item. Later you meet up with friends to enjoy some Glühwein (German drink of hot wine with mulled spices) and perhaps share a hot Belgian waffle covered in cream and spices.
The Christmas Markets in Vienna are wondrous to explore and a special experience. If this is on your bucket list of things to do, this year in particular there is a special 30th year advent celebration. Festive decorations, Christmas tree lightings, pony rides, a town hall that offers kids the chance to make their own handicrafts, and hundreds of stalls offering everything from hot cocoa and fairy floss to wood carvings from artisans create a fairytale land for adults and children alike.
Vienna’s Christmas markets run from November 13 – December 26th this year (2015). The hours are 10am-10pm all days except for December 24, 2015 when it closes early at 7pm.
Which of Vienna’s quaint Christmas markets is the best?
Some say it is the main market at Am Hof…or Spittelberg…possibly Freyung…maybe Schönbrunn Palace or on Maria Theresien-Platz…and in front of the Karlskirche (church of St. Charles Borromeo). You’ll have to try them all and decide for yourself. Luckily the town is very walkable, so you can map out which ones you want to visit. Here’s a great resource with a map of the Christmas markets in Vienna.
Perhaps the toughest part is deciding what hotel to stay at. Rates don’t get any less expensive during the holidays, and if you are already shelling out for airfare and food, you may not have a ton of extra cash to spend on a hotel while visiting the Christmas markets of Vienna. But, if you’ve got some hotel points stashed away, here are 3 fantastic hotels you can redeem points for at an excellent value.
1. Hotel imperial Vienna – Starwood Preferred Guest property.
Selecting the random weekend of December 4-6, 2015 on Starwood’s website the basic Classic Room at this hotel (single or King for 2) is at 459 EUR (over $500 a night!) using the best available rate.
The former residence of Prince of Württemberg is steeped in charm. From a special advent brunch with live music to a lavish 6 course Christmas dinner, the luxury property prepares for the holidays with flourish. Here’s the website’s page with some details on the Christmas markets as well.
The Hotel Imperial Vienna is a Category 6 property, which means that it requires only 25,000 Starpoints for a free night. Plus, all three times I’ve stayed at this property as a SPG Platinum, I’ve been given a complimentary upgrade to the Elisabeth Suite which goes for around 800 EUR a night.
The Hotel Imperial is just blocks away on foot from one of the Viennese Christmas Markets. Here’s a handy SPG booking link.
2. Ritz-Carlton Vienna – Marriott/Ritz-Carlton property.
Using random sample weekend dates of December 11-13, 2015 the best available rate is 375 EUR per night (approx 415 USD).
Instead of paying, you can instead redeem 50,000 Ritz-Carlton or Marriott Rewards points per night (for a total of 100,000 for the weekend).
The Ritz-Carlton Vienna even offers guests special dining options during Christmas market season with everything from a Christmas Eve buffet to gingerbread decorating and a visit from Saint Nicholas and Krampus (free for those under 6). The Ritz-Carlton Vienna’s rooftop bar even hosts their own Christmas market, called “Christmas Spirit High Above the Sky” open November 15-December 23, 2015 M-F 4pm-10pm, and Saturday/Sunday 2pm-10pm. Here’s their website’s page with more details.
Here is a Ritz-Carlton room booking link.
3. Park Hyatt Vienna – Hyatt property.
Selecting again the dates of December 4-6, 2015, the best available rate came to 490 EUR (approx 541 USD).
Redeeming 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for a free night is a great way to stay at this gem of a property without having to pay a ton of money.
The Park Hyatt Vienna happens to be in a prime location as well; there’s a Christmas market right across the street from the hotel! They also offer a special traditional advent brunch on November 29, December 6, 13 and 20, 2015 from 12.00pm to 3.00pm (for an extra fee). Here’s their website’s page with more details on their holiday dining options.
Here’s a Hyatt room booking link.
All 3 of these are really great hotels to stay at while enjoying the Christmas markets in Vienna. Will you be going this year?