Vienna has a new high-end centre for living and shopping, with impressive real-estate pricing, and superlative shopping opportunities to match.
Known as the Golden Quarter, the corner of luxury stores and top-price accommodation is nestled near the end of the Graben pedestrian zone, close to the iconic Julius Meinl market.
One of the highest profile investors in real-estate who has developed the concept for the area is Tyrolean investor René Benko, who recently made the news when he re-acquired Germany's ailing Karstadt chain for the price of €1.
The 37-year-old Benko has also been responsible for much of the development in the Golden Quarter through his real-estate investment company Signa, whose holdings are valued at more than €4 billion.
Signa has developed 14 luxury apartments in the area, including a penthouse dream-home with 304 square metres, setting a record for the most expensive real-estate in Austria, at up to €30,000 per square metre.
Signa Holding's managing director Christoph Stadlhuber says that everything is included in this price; "everything is there for nine million euros, up to the coffee spoons."
"The neighbourhood is not a shopping centre, but a high quality urban quarter in the heart of Vienna," said Stadlhuber.
Anchoring the space is a luxury hotel, the Park Hyatt Vienna, with 143 rooms. Altogether, the development features a total of 42,000 square metres of space, of which 9,500 is reserved as office space, and with 19 high-end stores.
At the entrance to Vienna's Golden Quarter. Photo: Paul Gillingwater
And the shopping is indeed of the highest quality. Wandering through the precinct, The Local saw a host of top names, including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Armani and the soon-to-open Chanel.
Alexander McQueen – http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/at/alexandermcqueen
Of the stores in the area, the Alexander McQueen outlet offers one of the most compelling shopping experiences. Situated in the heart of the Golden Quarter, the store features a selection of the late designer's signature styles, now under the competent direction of his successor, Sarah Burton.
The McQueen label includes high-end men's and women's designer clothing, often featuring the ubiquitous memento mori favoured by the designer, although the skulls are being de-emphasized in favour of more natural organic materials, including real fur and animal prints.
Despite McQueen being an English design house, it is quintessentially Italian, with all of its garments, handbags and shoes being made by Austria's southern neighbour.
While the top designer pieces costing hundreds of thousands of euros were not in the store when we visited, there were plenty of beautiful items on show, including a fox fur cape for only €14,500 – which would buy less than half a square metre of a nearby penthouse apartment.
Song – http://www.song.at
Closer to The Local's office in Praterstrasse is an elegant designer boutique known as Song.
Already known in Vienna's first district since eight years, Song has moved to the second district, giving it room to breathe, and to offer not only a wider range of fashions, but also an intriguing combination of art, unique furniture and designer items from an eclectic range of designers.
These designers range from Dries van Noten to Christopher Kane, with furniture by Piet Hein Eeek and Lobmeyr. An adjacent gallery provides opportunities for the discerning art investor.
Park – http://www.park.co.at/
Continuing the trend of simple one-word names, Park is in Vienna's seventh district. It offers a visual aesthetic similar to Berlin's Apartment on Alexanderplatz, with its all-white interiors. The store caters to the well-heeled, with brands including Acne Jeans, Raf Simons, Comme des Garçons, Ann Demeulemeester, Damir Doma and Pelic Avenue.
In addition to women's and men's fashion, one can buy books, magazines, and shoes.
Also in the seventh district is the Danish chain Wood Wood. Brands sold here include Play by Comme des Garçons, Henrik Vibskov, Fjällräven, Vibe Harsløf, Malin + Goetz, Peter Jensen, Linda Farrow and of course the private label Wood Wood. There are also perfumes, nail polish and great jewellery.