Anybody who's ever been to Vienna will know "Vienna Stafa Tower", the historic department store on Mariahilfer street. The top six floors of this landmark round building in the heart of the Austrian metropolis are currently being converted to house the RUBY MARIE – a brand new Ruby hotel with 186 rooms scheduled to open at the end of 2015. We asked Michael Struck, the owner of RUBY SOFIE, which only just celebrated its first anniversary a short distance away, about his second Ruby hotel right in the center of Vienna.
Michael Struck is the founder and Managing Director of the Munich-based Ruby Hotel Group. What stands out most for him about the department store conversion is that it is going to radically transform the face of the Vienna Stafa Tower. Which is exactly as intended, because Ruby hotels are not just hotels, Ruby hotels are hotels with a difference. As he explains, "What makes our hotels stand out is reflected in the kind of services we provide, the way we communicate, our interior design and ultimately, the entire story behind the hotels, which makes them unique."
Guest number 30,000 – Ruby #1 one year on
Struck's Lean Luxury concept – which is defined by first-rate, trendy design, high-quality interiors and a wealth of multimedia provided at affordable rates – has already drawn in excess of 30,000 guests to Ruby Sofie, the first of the Ruby Group hotels and located in Vienna's third district.
Lean Luxury is simply about cutting out everything that is not vital to guests – the most extreme instances of which are only possible thanks to cutting edge digital technology. Check-in for example: not only has that been sped up, but check-out has been dropped completely. Struck prefers cloud-based architectures, which is why hetras is one of his key system partners. "We want lean structures because most of our automated processes are ultimately designed to do all of our admin work for us and hence allow us to fully concentrate on our guests."
So, how is this concept going to be reflected in Ruby's second Vienna hotel? "Anybody familiar with Ruby will immediately recognize some of our key defining features", explains Struck, "such as our luxuriously comfortable beds, free high-speed WiFi and personal tablets for surfing the net, listening to music or exploring the hotel and city."
New: an event space for pop-up stores
One of the new Ruby's unique features is an event space designed for a wide variety of events such as art exhibitions, pop-up stores and similar with which Ruby's wants to contribute to this district's creative flair. Further, the new hotel also has a purpose-built yoga and meditation room and a lounge-style cinema for guests to unwind in. "Not only that, but our 'library' is designed to act as a very laid-back working space and comes fully equipped with iMacs, vending machines and a 'galley kitchen' where guests can help themselves to free coffee and tea day and night", explains Struck.
What about the location? This time, right in the city center – the heart of Vienna's seventh district, which makes the Ruby Marie an ideal base for business as well as city breaks. As such, it is within easy walking distance of not only a wealth of fascinating shops, restaurants and clubs, but also the museum quarter, the lively Spittelberg quarter and Westbahnhof railway station, as well as Vienna's most important landmarks: Hofburg Palace and St. Stephen's Cathedral.
Is that even possible, for 69 Euro?
Is that even possible at a rate of just 69 Euro? According to Struck, "Yes, it really is. But only thanks to our Lean Luxury philosophy – which means lean structures and priorities." By that, he simply means cutting out "everything that is not absolutely necessary to our guests." Which, in concrete terms means no restaurant, no spa – and instead, a fantastic bar.
Ruby Sofie has already been drawing visitors into its trendy bar, from which guests also check into the hotel, for over a year with highly original ideas – such as, for example, the fashion shooting workshop offered during the PixelPower conference. It’s precisely these kinds of events that contribute to what Struck hopes to replicate at his second Vienna hotel: "Providing people with a unique hotel experience at surprisingly affordable rates". Which Struck sums up as follows: "We are offering our guests the following lean luxuries: a hotel right in the heart of the city, with outstanding design and high-quality interior furnishings and the following essentials: quiet and a clean and comfortable bed and bathroom."
Breathing fresh air into a historic building
As far as Ruby hotels are concerned, stories and history is important. And when it comes to Ruby Marie, the story becomes really quite extraordinary. Originally built as a department store, the Stafa building has had a long and very varied history. Struck not only values this history, but also intends to make the building's history tangible in a number of ways: "It is really important to not only honor but also to preserve this special building's soul and character. And so, we have purposely designed some of the interior features to not only reflect its unique history, but also to act as breath of fresh air."
Picture: Thomas Kleedorfer