Five-star hotel opens as industry braces for more competition

Vienna has another luxury hotel as the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom started operating this morning (Tues).French architect Jean Nouvel created the design of the five-star resort located on the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) in Vienna-Leopoldstadt.The 18-storey building, which features 182 rooms costing between 250 and 3,000 Euros per night, also includes a carpet dealer and an art gallery. Its opening party, which took place last night, was attended by high-profile businessmen and politicians such as Viennese Social Democratic (SPÖ) Mayor Michael Häupl.Speaking about his influences, Nouvel explained he tried to “create a dialogue with this historical city.”The celebrated architect also designed the hotel room interiors. Nouvel decided to create three different schemes for the Sofitel’s rooms, which are either dominated by white, grey or black.Award-winning French chef Antoine Westermann is at the helm of the hotel’s “Le Loft” restaurant which offers a panorama view across the city.The opening comes days after tourism industry representatives voiced concerns of growing pressure by a string of new hotel projects.Michaela Reitterer, head of the Austrian Hotel Industry Association’s (ÖHV) Viennese department, said she feared many hotel managers could see themselves forced to slash prices in the near future as 14 new hotels are planned in the city.Reitterer explained the new resorts will increase the number of hotel rooms in Vienna by 4,500 to 31,200. The ÖHV Vienna head explained that, despite a strong increase of overnight stays, the occupancy rate of hotels in the Austrian capital has declined in the past years as travellers and business partners felt the effects of the crisis.Hotels in Vienna registered 969,000 overnight stays in October, up by 3.7 per cent compared to figures recorded in the same month of 2009.The October results mean that the city’s hotels can look back on 9.117 million overnight stays in the first 10 months of 2010, up by 5.8 per cent compared to figures for the same time span in 2008. With 10.2 million overnight stays, Vienna achieved an all-time record in 2008.International travel platform Trivago said earlier this week Viennese hotels charged an average 127 Euros per night for one night at a standard double room, up from 112 Euros last month. Hotels in Geneva, Switzerland, were found to be the most expensive in Europe at 186 Euros a night, followed by London in the United Kingdom (184 Euros) and Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, with 159 Euros.Trivago examined hotels in 50 cities across the continent. The website ( offers its price comparison services based on around 160,000 daily inquiries.