History, review and photos of the luxury hotel
Hotel Sacher, Philharmonikerstrasse 4, A-1010 Vienna, Austria.
Article added on February 13, 2012; details added on February 17, 2012
The Sacher is an institution
in Vienna. The luxury hotel is better than ever since, in 2005, it has been enlarged by a
spa as well as two additional floors on top with 43 new rooms and suites in
two color schemes: red and blue.
The 6th and 7th floor are the fruit of the collaboration
between interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon and the Gürtler-Winkler family. The result is “Sacher light”, a fresh design
which can be best described as contemporary classic.
My favorite rooms are on the seventh floor with its
terraces overlooking Vienna. I stayed in the junior suite 701 with a
fantastic view from both the bed and the bathtub overlooking the next door Opera House and the Kärntner Strasse. The bathroom is
one of the best in the entire hotel. Four suites
to the other side of the hotel offer even better views. Among them is suite 708
with a large terrace overlooking the Albertina Museum, the Opera
House and the Hofburg.
In December 2011, the six-year renovation of seven floors of the Sacher has
been finished. Calming colors, wooden floors and state-of-the-art technology
are part of the concept. Only original art works are displayed in the rooms
The history of the Sacher - It all started with a cake
It all started with a cake. In 1832, with the words
„Let there be no shame on me tonight“, Prince Metternich ordered a
dessert from a 16-year old apprentice in his second year, Franz Sacher. His
soft and fluffy chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam became an
instant success: the Original Sacher-Torte.
Franz Sacher (1816-1907) was an apprentice working for the family of Count
Esterhazy, first in Pressburg (today's capital of Slovakia: Bratislava),
then in Budapest. Franz Sacher moved on to become the chef de cuisine at the
Casino in Pressburg and afterwards at the Casino in Budapest. During this
period already, the reputation of the Sacher Torte spread throughout the
entire Austrian Empire.
After the revolution of 1848 and its nationalistic troubles, Franz Sacher
decided to move from Budapest to Vienna. He first established his culinary
business in Vienna's suburb of Margarethen. In 1858, he had the honor of
catering to a crowd of 1200 people for the opening of the Empress-Elisabeth-Westbahn.
Franz Sacher died as a successful businessman at the age of 91.
Together with his wife Anna, Eduard Sacher (1843-1892) worked closely with his father.
As the second son of a wine and delicatessen merchant, Eduard enjoyed an excellent
professional education. He traveled to Paris and London, where he saw for
instance the rise of the new
In 1864, Eduard returned to Austria and opened an inn in Vienna's suburb
Döbling. Two years later, he opened a restaurant in Vienna's
famous Kärntner Strasse where, in the Palais Tedesco built by the architects
Ludwig Förster and Theophil Hansen, he established chambres séparées
the Parisian model. The success offered him the chance to build a hotel at
the place of the Kärntnertortheater, just opposite his restaurant and
opposite the Vienna State Opera (at the time called Hofoper), which had
opened in 1869 with Mozart's Don Giovanni.
The opening of the Vienna Hotel Sacher in 1876 - Anna Sacher makes it a
The purchase contract for the new hotel between four businessman and the
government was signed in 1872. In the following years, during which the site
of the former Kärtnertortheater was transformed into a hotel, Eduard Sacher
continued to make money. For the World Exhibition of 1873, Eduard opened the Sacher Garten
in the Prater, Vienna's amusement park in the city garden. It was such a
success that, the following year, he opened a second café-restaurant in the
Built by the architect Frankl, the luxurious accommodation finally opened in 1876 as Hôtel de l'Opéra.
renamed after its owner in the 1890s. The restaurant also featured chambres séparées,
an ideal place for flirts, gossip, political talks and intrigue.
In 1880, Eduard Sacher married the 21-year old Anna Fuchs, the daughter of a
rich Viennese butcher. Anna was right away involved in the running of the
hotel. Her role increased over the years because her husband's health was
The flourishing business allowed Eduard to rent the next door
building and to connect it on all floors with his hotel. In 1887 already, as
many as 200 to 400 Sacher cakes were baked daily and delivered as far as to
Berlin, London and Paris.
Unfortunately, the thriving businessman died relatively young. In
1892, his widow, Anna Sacher (1859-1930) took over the hotel and turned it
into the legend it remains until today. She was famous for smoking cigars,
accompanied by her favorite French bulldogs. She was introduced to cigar
smoking by the Hungarian-born multi-millionaire Nikolaus von Szemere, a
regular guest at the Sacher, who occupied large parts of the hotel with his
personal secretaries and servants.
As a friend of the royal family, Nikolaus von Szemere refused an invitation
by the heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand (the one who was shot in 1914 in
Sarajevo, which led to the Second World War), because the archduke's cuisine
could not match the one of the Sacher. Franz Ferdinand replied politely that
he would no longer invite von Szemere to the Belvedere, but that he would
accept all the millionaire's invitations to dine at the Sacher. With a
smile, Franz Ferdinand added: “May I ask you a favor? Don't tell my wife!”
Anna Sacher ran the hotel with a strong hand and a big heart. She made the Sacher the hotel of the aristocracy. Even the emperor's sons
were among the hotel's habitués. In 1907, even history was made in one of
the chambres séparées, where a new reconciliation between Austria and
Hungary was negotiated between Prime Minister von Koerber and Koloman von
The Sacher featured the latest technology, including fridges. In order to
offer fruit even in winter, Anna Sacher had a small green house built which
for instance featured peaches.
On February 25, 1930 Anna Sacher died in her hotel room. She had owned and
managed the Sacher for half a century. In the streets of Vienna, tens of
thousands of people bid farewell to the city's most famous hotelier.
Crisis, Second World War and Rebirth
In 1934, Franz Kroneder was appointed the new hotel manger.
Unfortunately, the world economic crisis
had hit hard already at the end of the reign of Anna Sacher. In 1934, the hotel had to file for bankruptcy. The same year, the
lawyer Hans Gürtler (1895-1970) together with the owner of a hotel at the
Schwedenplatz and the Café Siller, Josef Siller, took over the Sacher.
In 1936, under the new first ladies of the hotel, Poldi Gürtler and Anna
Siller, the Sacher underwent an important phase of restoration. Central
heating, electricity, hot and cold running water were installed.
The new hotel owner's baptism of fire came with wedding banquet for Princess
Irma von Windisch-Grätz and prince Franz von Weikersheim in 1936. The
European aristocracy left the Sacher satisfied, which was again a leading
address in the Old World.
Another highlight of 1936 came with the visit of Edward VIII, King of the
United Kingdom and the British Dominions as well as the Emperor of India. He
fell in love with the Sacher while staying on a state visit at the nearby
Bristol. He insisted on giving a lunch at the Sacher. After his abdication,
as the Duke of Windsor, he became a return guest at the Sacher. He was the
first to sign the new guest book. Manager Rudolf Paller remembered him well
because, as a bellboy, he had served him as the English King at the
Among the hotel's famous guests of the 1930s was the British actor and
playwright Noël Coward, whose play Reunion in Vienna premiered at the
Lyric Theatre in London in 1935. It features an archduke who seduces the shy
wife of a psychoanalyst (a reference to Freud) in a hotel called Lucher (a
reference to the Sacher).
In 1937, Greta Garbo was one of the last famous guests to stay at the Sacher
before Austria ceased to exist for several years. The Sacher had to fly the
Nazi flag but, according to Andreas Augustin, it never became the first
choice for the leading Nazis.
Hans Gürtler, as a lawyer, protected several hotel guest from the Nazi
regime. In 1945, the next door State Opera was severely damaged, whereas the
Sacher emerged almost intact from the Second World War.
After the liberation from the Nazis, Austria was divided into four zones.
The Russians took over Vienna and stayed at the Sacher. The marble dining
room became a horse stable. Luckily, the Sacher area quickly became part of
the British zone of occupancy. The marble hall quickly became a restaurant
again. In 1951, the British troops restituted the Sacher to the two owner
families (Josef Siller had died in 1949).
The hotel needed again a thorough renovation. The central heating and the
kitchen were updated. The hotel was quickly enlarged from 18 to 40 rooms
with bath. Hans Gürtler laid the foundation stone for the impressive
collection of Austrian paintings which ornate the Sacher until today.
After the death of Anna Siller in 1962, the Gürtler family took over the
hotel entirely. After the death of Hans Gürtler in 1970, his son Rolf took
over the house. He died just a few months later in a tragic accident. His
son Peter Gürtler became the new man in charge.
Peter Gürtler was successful enough to be able to take over the Hotel
Österreichischer Hof in Salzburg in 1988. After his death in 1990, it was
his widow Elisabeth Gürtler how became the new hotelier. Together with her
daughter and junior-chef Alexandra and her son Georg, she is running the
Sacher until today.
Elisabeth Gürtler is the daughter of the entrepreneur Fritz Mauthner. She is
a very dynamic lady who organized, in addition to running two leading
hotels, the famous Vienna Opera Ball eight times until 2007 and is now
Managing Director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna!
Among the hundreds of famous guests having stayed at the Sacher since the Second
World War, let's mention Grace Kelly, Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von
Karajan (the artistic director of the State Opera next door from 1957-1964), John F. Kennedy, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. And, last but not
least, Graham Greene. The author stayed at the hotel in 1948, where he
researched material for The Third Man. The British Club was at the
Sacher. In his autobiography, Graham Greene writes how a British
intelligence officer told him about the penicillin racket and the
underground police working in Vienna's sewer system, which became part of
the plot of The Third Man (order the legendary film with Orson Welles
An interview by John Lennon and Yoko
Ono caused a scandal. They had invited the press to a sleep-in at the Sacher, giving an interview totally
naked, but lying in the hotel bed under the sheets, which frustrated many of
the hundreds of photographers who had come to the hotel for the occasion.
Family hotels are often either among the best or the worst. The Sacher in
Vienna is a brilliant example of a successful family business, offering
a legendary history, comfort, luxury and atmosphere.
Sources: own research, information provided by the hotel management and
Andreas Augustin's 79-page book The Sacher Treasury as well as its
Hotel Sacher Wien. Gelebte Tradition.
125 Jahre Hotel Sacher Wien. 86 pages.
Hotel Sacher, Philharmonikerstrasse 4, A-1010 Vienna, Austria.
The Swan Lake Junior Suite.
Photo © Hotel Sacher Wien.
The Deluxe Junior Suite Baal.
Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
Sacher. Photos Copyright
© Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
The rooms and suites on the 6th and 7th floor are my favorites. Their design is
contemporary classic. Here a view of a Deluxe Double Room. Photos Copyright
© Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
The bathroom in my junior suite. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
A terrace on my favorite top floor. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
My favorite Red Bar - Rote Bar. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
The Deluxe Junior Suite Béatrice et Bénédict. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
A Deluxe Junior Suite Bathroom. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
The lobby. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.
The Blue Bar - Blaue Bar. Photos Copyright © Hotel Sacher, Vienna.