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Grätzlhotel: From Shopfronts to Urban Hotel

Written by
Roshan McArthur
December 8, 2016

At BoutiqueHomes, we are passionate about accommodation that goes beyond the mundane, and we love hearing about hotels and homes that try something completely new. Here’s a great concept: The Grätzlhotel in Vienna, a hotel made up of shopfronts scattered throughout the city.

In 2012, a group of Viennese architects and their business partners decided the market for “standardized” or “bland” accommodation had become saturated. According to Theresia Kohlmayr, managing director of the hospitality group now called Urbanauts, “The best way to get to experience a city is to live and spend time with the people living there.”


To this end, they took former shopfronts throughout the city and redesigned them into hotel rooms. Starting with a former tailor’s shop, the rooms were designed to exude the charm of their original use and tell a story. As the project grew, they added button-makers, confectioners, librarians and vinyl dealers, among others. Each room retained traces of its former use (the discarded fittings of an abandoned lamp business now forms a one-of-a-kind light assemblage), but each has been customized to fit the contemporary style of the hotel.

Cool idea. But what is truly different is their approach to the idea of a “hotel”. These suites are separate units, not attached to each other. There are 18 of them, clustered into two groups of seven, and one group of four, in three different districts of the city (Karmelitermarkt, Belvedere and Meidlinger Markt). They exist both independently and as a part of the bigger organism. There are no lobbies and corridors, no hotel restaurants. Instead, the hotel takes advantage of what lies around it – little cafes, local spas, unique shops, and cool marketplaces.


Grätzl is an east-Austrian, colloquial word for a part of a district, and this hotel is intended to be part of the districts it occupies. The local businesses are partners who collaborate with the hotel – to serve as the hotel’s breakfast room or social hub, create picnic baskets, rent bicycles or give massages. They provide experiences guests won’t find in guidebooks. So, when travelers stay in one branch of the hotel, they become part of the neighborhood.

The end result is a more intimate connection to the city, its businesses and residents past and present. Private apartments, with tasteful, high-quality design, and all the amenities of a hotel, but only a footstep away from the grätzl.


The 18 suites of the Grätzlhotel are available to rent here.

Photographs by Ingo Karnicnik, Monika Nguyen and Heidrun Henke.