Hotel Sacher – Vienna, Austria (English)

Hotel Sacher – Vienna, Austria (English)

Andreas Augustin




Cover by Manfred Markowski, over 180 photographs, illustrations, drawings and sketches

Leather-bound edition



Hardcover (real cloth bound / gold stamping / dust jacket)


2 reading marks (one for "her", one for "him"), 2 postcards (one for your personal use, one is your ticket to a corresponding membership at The Friends of The Most Famous Hotels in the World).




155 x 235 mm, 700 g

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The Hotel Sacher is a Viennese institution. It opened its doors in 1876. Franz Sacher invented in 1932, what is today protected by trademark, and therefor carefully referred to as the 'Original Sacher Torte'. For the first time we throw light on his life, the life of one of the most creative and successful chefs of his time. Meet the legendary Anna Sacher and her 100 pet dogs, discover an old invoice proving that Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Elisabeth, had her private deliveries of Sacher-Torte to the palace, read about the various Crown princes, their dinners and their scandals at the Sacher. We take you through almost 200 years of Viennese history, including the doomed last days of the second world war, when almost every building around the Sacher was shattered by bombs with one exception: the Hotel Sacher. Meet hotel guests like Graham Greene, who noted at the Sacher: ‘Here I had the good fortune to lunch with the future Duke of St. Albans’, who provided inspiring details for Greene’s The Third Man. Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Elizabeth Taylor, Ralph Fiennes, Liza Minelli, Anthony Hopkins were and are seen here. Here parades the Austria of yesteryear with its literary giants, Nobel-prize winners and nobility. See the Austria of today, as the Sacher is as much a historical legend as a modern hotel and the meeting point of celebrities, from the Queen of England to the first lady of the United States.

This book is currently out of print and will be available later in 2018.


By Andreas Augustin

The Most Famous Hotels in the World turned to the Austrian capital in 1990 to research the unique history of the Sacher, and to discover the secrets of this legendary hotel which opened during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth. It was the year 1876, the same year that saw the inauguration of the Frankfurter Hof and the Oriental in Bangkok. The Sacher is one of the last privately owned and run luxury hotels in the world, a living reflection of the ideas and standards of its owners. Doors are still pushed open by human hands and the wakeup call still comes from a real person.

imageElisabeth Guertler, who had just taken over the ‘Direktion’ of the hotel, decided to join the library of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. Blessed with impeccable quality minded, modern management skills, she also possessed an unsurpassed sense of style. Her concept was catapulting the old fashioned Sacher Hotel into the future. She would accomplish what her late husband Peter Guertler had started (the Guertler family had acquired the hotel in 1936). image Today, the house is the very epitome of elegance from head to toe, from the rooftop spa overlooking the opera house to the cosy lobby beneath and the downstairs bar and restaurants. Upstairs, in the spa, you enter a fascinating world of exotic aromas, water elements, and a sauna that exudes history. The future, meanwhile, is represented downstairs in modern spots like the Sacher Corner, a stylish glass front corner bar, inspired by Alexandra Winkler, the daughter of the house, and her brother Georg Guertler: Family business at its best.

We collected stories from the late Peter Wanninger, the chef concierge, since replaced by Wolfgang Buchmann, and Robert Palfrader, a legendary former restaurant manager. We visited retired members of staff, recording long forgotten tales and keeping them alive for the next generation. In total, we spent over one hundred hours interviewing them. image Hotel manager Reiner Heilmann had started a small collection of historical photographs. He personally guarded the hotel's collection of historic menus, as well as its legendary century old embroidered tablecloth, a kind of Sacher's private Who’s Who. It was an invention by the legendary Anna Sacher, who ran the hotel from the fin de siècle to the 1930s. All the illustrious guests were and still are invited to sign on the tablecloth and these signatures would later be embroidered. The centre piece is a signature by His Imperial Majesty, Kaiser Franz Joseph.

No other cake in the world sells better than the Original Sacher-Torte. The Hotel Sacher produces around 320,000 of this sweetest of Viennese ambassadors per year. On good days the order reaches 3,500. Many imitators have tried to copy the Sacher cake. Japanese spies have even attempted to infiltrate the inner sanctuary of the Sacher in search of the secret of all secrets. One son of the rising sun sought employment in the hotel kitchen. Being Japanese nobody batted an eyelid when he happily began to take snapshots of his surroundings, including the mixing, baking and decorating of the cake. He subsequently returned to his homeland and opened a confectionery selling Sacher-Torte. Focusing our efforts on international guests, we unearthed a treasure trove of tales. Charlie Chaplin, for instance, stayed at the Imperial Hotel in 1931. The day after his arrival, he escaped his fans to meet his composer friend Richard Strauss at the Sacher Bar for a good chat. Walt Disney, dining at the Restaurant Rote Bar, ordered a saddle of venison to the delight of the restaurant manager Robert T. Palfrader, who took the order with the words: ‘A saddle of Bambi, Mr Disney!’ image

Nobody knew that the late Graham Greene (1904-1991, left) had spent one week at the Sacher in February 1948. He lunched at the Sacher with a British intelligence officer, who told him about penicillin trafficking in the Viennese underground sewer system. As a result of this chance meeting, Greene was inspired to pen The Third Man, starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles and Trevor Howard. Interestingly, the lead actor, Orson Welles, became a regular at the Sacher. He later said that when he agreed to play Harry Lime, he was offered either a straight salary or a percentage of the profits. Welles chose the salary. It was a decision he would live to regret - the movie went on to become the most successful film of the immediate post World War II era. We searched far and wide for people who, once upon a time, started their career at the Sacher.

We found Toni Piringer, who began as an apprentice at the hotel, before rising to the post of Executive Vice-President of Fairmont Hotels and later became President of Adam's Mark Hotels. Rudolf Paller, a former manager and another great character, told us about Edward VIII, the King of England, who visited Vienna in 1936 on a state visit. As was the official custom, he stayed at the Hotel Bristol but all the same insisted on holding a lunch at the Sacher. image The next time he came to Vienna, he was no longer King of England, having of course abdicated because of his relationship with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson (to the left). Unbound by royal protocol, he could enjoy the cozy privacy of his hotel of choice, the Sacher. Edward was in fact the first man to sign the hotel’s new guest book. Today Edward VIII would have enjoyed the treatment in the Spa's steam room / to the right. The complete collection of legends, stories and – of course – history has been published in the new editon HOTEL SACHER VIENNA in the series THE MOST FAMOUS HOTELS IN THE WORLD.

Andreas Augustin


We should like to thank the following persons for their assistance:
Elisabeth Gürtler-Mauthner, Mag. Alexandra Winkler, Reiner Heilmann and the management team, especially Christine Koza and Claudia Berger. The author would like to thank all the current and former employees such as Wolfgang Buchmann, Karl Siebert, Maria v. Kellermayr, Milos Manojlovic, Robert T. Palfrader, Jaroslav Müller, Bernd Adensamer, Peter Wanninger, Johann Huditsch, Karl Schulz, Herbert Koza, Wolfgang Ebner, Adolf Kaiblinger, Josef Gross, Alfred Schister, Othmar Maurer, Klaus Ratzenberger, Franz Gwechenberger, Rosa Rosenfeld, Cherry Chappell und Robert Dachs.

Research in the archives of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchives: Mag. Carola E. Augustin
Cover and Illustrations: Manfred Markowski
Colouration of the original Sacher-Baupläne: Peter Baldinger
Photos: Starpix A.Tuma, Alexander Haiden, Bill Lorenz (Sacher Interieur, R. Nurejev), Gino Molin-Pradel (Curd Jürgens, James Levine), Toby Hogarth (Graham Greene & Paul Hogarth), Edwin Walter (Caroline von Monaco & Peter Gürtler), Robert Dachs (Oskar Werner), Imperial War Museum, London, Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, Famous Hotels Archives Vienna, Archive der Baupolizei für den ersten Wiener Gemeindebezirk sowie Bestandteile der Sammlungen Johann Huditsch, Othmar Maurer, Adolf Kaiblinger, Karl Schulz und des Sacher Archives.

All historical data was selected and assembled within the course of the research according to generally valid criteria. The declared aim of the book was to provide a general historical overview with the highest entertainment value. This undertaking thus makes no claim to completion. In this context, we owe the entire management of the hotel our thanks for the way in which they never let the allure of legend overcome the reality of the historical facts.
The whole book, including parts such as the banderole, dust jacket, postcards and book mark are subject to the protection of copyright. In particular, its storage by any electronic media and its distribution in networks of any form is strictly forbidden. Any use of this work requires the express permission of the author.

© Andreas Augustin 2008

German edition ISBN 978-3-900692-25-4
English edition ISBN 978-3-900692-26-1

Design: Michelangelo Ramazotti
Layout: Markus Rametsteiner

Publisher's recommendations

Dear wonderful Readers; 

Days like this lead to endless hours at home, time for books, time to read and to prepare our next journeys. 

I recommend the new edition of HOTEL METROPOLE HANOI.

The first copies of THE HALF MOON TREASURY are being released – exclusively to our readers (and before its official launching date). 

We have released a reprint of our successful book THE WESTIN EXCLESIOR ROME, the most famous hotel on Via Veneto. 

The new edition of THE STRAND (Yangon,Myanmar) receives wonderful readers' feedback — thank you for your notes and mails. 

There is a hotel in Seefeld, Tyrol, Austria, which stands for all the fables and legends this little olympic village has to tell. It is called ASTORIA, and run by legendary hotelier Elisabeth Gürtler. Our new book SEEFELDER MINIATUREN - ASTORIA - A STORY - A LEGEND is available now – in this store. It is in German, only (for the time being).

Upon request, we dispatch all our books personally autographed (as you know).

Have a save journey!

Andreas Augustin

aa at famoushotels dot org

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."

Harry S. Truman

(1884 - 1972)

33rd President of the United States

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