At the age of 16 London-based poet Rachel fell in love with a painting she saw in an art book, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. So when her boyfriend Antosh wanted an unforgettable gift he surprised her with a trip to see the original, up close and personal, in the city of its inspiration.
We filmed their romantic pilgrimage through one of Europe’s great cities – historic, hip, traditional and trend-setting – it could only be Vienna. If you'd like to follow in their footsteps, here are some of the highlights from the trip.
Where to stay
Every great trip starts with a great accommodation. The Grand Ferdinand takes the elegance and grandeur Vienna is known for and mixes it up with some decidedly 2016 flourishes (think open-plan bathrooms and a rooftop pool that’ll have you on Instagram in a second). Address: Schubertring 10-12, 01. Innere Stadt, 1010
When Antosh mentions ‘the best coffee I’ve ever had’, he’s talking about Coffee Pirates. You can smell the wares from this cozy little spot long before you catch a glimpse of it. They roast all their beans in-house and the aroma draws students from the local university for pre-lecture espressos and tourists who’ve heard about the city’s best cappuccino. It’s worth asking the staff what they recommend – the guys working here are coffee experts. Address: Spitalgasse 17, 1090
Then it’s on to Vienna Butterfly House. There’s the burble of a waterfall, the humid heat of the jungle and butterflies the size of your hand. It’s only when you look out through the bank of curved-glass windows and catch a glimpse of the opera house that you remember you’re still in Vienna. Address: Josefsplatz, 1010 Wien
If you want a memento of your trip that goes beyond the obligatory selfie, then you HAVE to try out Supersense. Tucked away in a corner of an imposing Palazzo is a shop that sells all things hand-made. Have your Polaroid picture taken and then blown up life size before your very eyes, make a letterpress print or even cut a vinyl record. But if you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty there are still a ton of one-off, hand-crafted gifts to impress your friends back home. Address: Praterstraße 70, 1020
We’d guess libraries aren’t most people’s ‘must-see’ list but few cities have a library quite like Vienna’s. It’s set in the grand Hofburg Palace for a start, and, once inside, you find yourself under a vaulted, painted roof that would put most art galleries to shame. And as you wander about, surrounded by towering wooden bookcases that have a definitive Hogwarts vibe, don’t forget to check out two of the odder museums in a city that has over a hundred – the Esperanto and globe museums. Address: Josefsplatz 1, 1015
Then it’s down the stone steps into the shadowy cavern of Jazzland. Peals of trumpet ring from every wall and the smell of proper Austrian home-cooking makes you feel at home right away. But you can’t stay all night because then it’s on to the museum. Address: Franz-Josefs-Kai 29, 1010
The Belvedere Collection. Home to The Kiss (and about a hundred other masterpieces). Frankly, the building itself is a work of art – a proper fairy-tale Austrian castle, complete with formal gardens and reflecting pools – but inside it’s a colourful tour through a thousand years of art history. Then, it’s that golden embrace that we’ve all come to see – The Kiss is part of the world’s biggest collection of Klimt pictures, a collection as romantic and ornate and extravagant as the city that hosts it. Address: Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030
Book your romantic stay at Vienna's Grand Ferdinand on Booking.com. Opened in 2015, the hotel is located right on the Ringstraße boulevard in the centre of Vienna and offers a rooftop pool, 3 restaurants, and free WiFi access. The City Park and the Vienna State Opera are within a 5-minute walk.