The sign out front depicts a friendly image of a wooden cottage next to an evergreen tree. Inside, chairs hand carved from oak wood sit in front of windows hugged by oak frames and the warm faces of the staff beam behind an oak wood reception desk.
After a smooth check in I meander deeper into the hostel and find not one but two interior gardens, where peaceful plants climb the walls and wrap oak benches, tables and chairs in a soft embrace. A hand carved, oversized wooden chess set sits on the patio and groups of weary, contented travelers relax with a drink.
Lost in the garden I begin to wonder if I am actually at a hostel in the heart of Vienna or if the hostel’s front doors served as a portal transporting me to that tranquil cottage on the welcome sign.
I dwell so much on these wooden details because I find them emblematic of what makes this hostel so special: Walter, one of the hostel’s owners, carves most of these pieces by hand.
Walter and his wife Erin, aren’t joking when they call their hostel a “labor of love.”
The Ruthensteneirs, both travel enthusiasts, opened the hostel in 1968. It is the original independent backpackers hostel in Vienna, and one of the oldest in Central Europe.
“We dreamed of creating the perfect hostel,” wrote Erin and Walter on their hostel’s website.
“A place where people of all ages and nationalities would feel welcome and at home while discovering the beautiful city of Vienna,” they added.
I had the opportunity to stay at Hostel Ruthenstiener on a recent visit to Vienna and was immediately taken by the hostel’s unique charm.
I stayed in a 6-bed female dorm. The room was spacious and came with a table, individual reading lights and a spacious locker for each bed to store valuables.
I peaked into several rooms and found they are all very open with lots of natural light and those familiar oak floors.
Across the hall from the room was a spacious bathroom. With separate showers, sinks and toilets there was plenty of space for multiple people to get ready at the same time. The bathroom also came with HAIR DRYERS a welcome and rare amenity to find at hostels.
In addition to the two gardens, there are a plethora of cozy common areas and nooks for reading, trip planning and getting to know other travelers.
I also really enjoyed the location of the hostel. Less than a 5 minute walk from Westbahnhof train station it was easy to find after taking the train from Bratislava.
The hostel is also just a few minutes tram ride away from the major sights of the city including the Old Town and Schönbrunn Palace.
With its collection of gardens, bright and cheery ambience and quiet location, Hostel Ruthensteiner is a cozy oasis in the center of Vienna, Austria.
Note: I received a complimentary stay at Hostel Ruthensteiner. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.