So often, the most reasonable city-centre hotels are international chains with the same functional decor and the same anonymous utilitarian style in all their properties. Once you've gone up in the lift to your room, you could be on the first floor or the tenth, in any city round the globe. But city life happens down at street level and the young team of Viennese architects Lutter, Kohlmayr and Knapp have developed 'urbanauts', a new concept in accommodation that takes this into account and looks at decentralising the idea of a hotel, extending horizontally through the city at ground level rather than vertically.
Along with the rest of the world, Vienna has had its share of business closures, and the smaller manufacturing trades are moving out to the periphery; this is where the urbanaut concept comes into its own: a novel idea that is set to convert some of the disused workshops in the very centre of the city into modern hotel rooms. With a floor area of around 25 square metres and clever technology that combines privacy with a good view of what's going on outside, the first urbanaut accommodation - opened in August 2011 near the city's trendy Freihausviertel district - was a former tailor's shop, and its decor reflects this history. The intention is to add more urbanaut rooms in the same neighbourhood, to form a decentralised hotel with services scattered throughout the surrounding area.
Instead of having reception, restaurant, spa and bedrooms housed in a single building, breakfast can be eaten at the coffee-shop on the corner, the hamman across the road offers all the facilities of a luxury spa, and if you fancy a drink, there's a bar just down the road offering a genuine experience of drinking alongside the locals rather than the sanitised and insulated anonymity of most hotel bars. And the foyer? Well, that's the whole city, and you're right there, from the moment you step outside your room.
Each urbanaut room will be equipped with a list of recommended establishments where the travellers can access all the services they'd usually find within a traditional hotel. The price includes the hire of two bicycles for the duration of the stay, and all sorts of other services can be added to customise your visit. The young team of architects behind the urbanaut experience are sure that these 'street lofts' will provide an authentic urban experience unlike the usual tourist packages.