Think of the kind of elegant coffee house you might drop into before (or after) a visit to the theatre and you have Café Landtmann. Which, as it happens, sits opposite Vienna’s Burgtheater.
- First opened in 1873
- Prestigious location that combines tradition with a modern outlook and upmarket ambience
- Large outdoor section for summer climes and a lovely Christmas tree for wintry ones
- See also: Vienna coffee houses
A local review
“Modern tradition” is the best description I can give for Café Landtmann, as it successfully treads the delicate line between coffee house dignity and modernism.
As such, it’s an establishment that makes no attempt to capture a moment in time or history, but continues to move forward while not forgetting those traditional elements that define a Viennese coffee house.
So you have, for example, an outdoor terrace and a glass-dominated “winter garden”, but also black & white-clad waiters and spotless upholstered sofa niches.
The Landtmann first opened in 1873. An announcement in the October 1st edition of the Neues Wiener Blatt newspaper by Franz Landtmann himself suggested the new café would be notable for its (my translation):
…pleasing, solid and surprisingly elegant decor, splendidly luxurious billiards, a comfortable games room, as well as the serving of excellent drinks with prompt service.
The coffee house now belongs to the Querfeld family of locations that includes the likes of Café Residenz at Schönbrunn Palace and Café Museum near the State Opera House. Café Landtmann has its own prestigious setting, too.
Depending where you sit, you might look out onto the Burgtheater or the Rathaus park with the imposing city hall behind it. That same park lights up in late November and December for the Christmas market. And the Landtmann traditionally features its own rather delightful Christmas tree, too:
Although Vienna’s coffee houses share a common tradition, each tends to have its own unique flavour. The Landtmann version becomes apparent as soon as you step inside. The staffed cloakroom, for example, or the large white tablecloths that had me in terror of leaving a mark as I waved my pen around seeking literary inspiration.
An upmarket aura pervades the place, a venue for the well-to-do, theatregoers, politicians, and business folk to meet beneath hardwood panelling with crafted inlay designs. Even on a cold and early November morning, the number of reserved signs on tables reflected Landtmann’s continuing popularity.
Prices are, inevitably, on the expensive side, with my coffee costing more than my “Viennese breakfast”. The latter, incidentally, featured a gorgeous slice of crusty organic dark bread, an organic roll, jam, butter scoring 9/10 on the critical spreadbility index, and a perfectly-boiled organic egg. There’s a good-sized restaurant menu, too, for larger appetites.
And then there are the cakes and pastries in all their variety.
The Landtmann draws its selection from the in-house patisserie. I took a “mini” Sachertorte, which is an irresistibly seductive concept allowing indulgence without the guilt that accompanies a full slice. And it was excellent.
The waiting staff were numerous and unfailingly polite, if perhaps a little too eager to clear my table. Certainly they were much more relaxed and friendly than I remember from my arrival in Vienna many years ago. The image of the grumpy waiter seems to have become more myth than reality in today’s city.
How to get to Café Landtmann
Subway: a trio of stations ring the coffee house, all a short walk away. The nearest is probably Schottentor on the U2 line, followed by Rathaus (U2) and Herrengasse (U3).
Tram/bus: the Rathausplatz/Burgtheater stop serves the two destinations in its title, so sits opposite Landtmann, too. Tram lines 1, D and 71 all stop here. Schottentor station has all of those lines, plus trams 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44.
Address: Universitätsring 4, 1010 Vienna | Website