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This list is for the more adventurous visitors who want to dive deep into Vienna’s shady past, as these bars (and one hotel) have one thing in common: not so long ago, they used to be brothels.
Empress Sissi, the Opera Ball and street vendors dressed up as Mozart: Vienna seems to be a pretty clean and proper place. For sure, the city has a lot of magnificent history – but wait until you hear the story behind these seedy locations.
If 1950s Hollywood were located in Vienna, the stars and starlets would be gathering at this notorious bar to sip overpriced gin tonics. From the outside, the place is inconspicuous but the adventure starts once you try the door and find it locked. In order to get in, you have to press the old hidden doorbell and hope that somebody opens up (depending on how loud and crazy it is inside, you might have to wait a while). Once you’ve made it inside the former brothel you’ll be greeted by worn out red carpets, shabby furniture and the smell of sins past. The ever-changing and diversified DJ lineup makes a visit an acoustically interesting experience but even if you don’t like the tunes, the atmosphere here is legendary on many nights. It’s a place where even the uptight Viennese dare to let loose.
If Tanzcafé Jenseits had been developed by a team of 30-something marketing professionals, this is what it would look like. The fancy interior, exclusive black leather booths, sparkling floor tiles, quality cocktails make guests feel like VIPs – and if you don’t trust the bartenders, you can also rent a cocktail machine for the night. Located just a few hundred meters away from its prototype Tanzcafé Jenseits, this used to be a rather dubious brothel. Today’s visitors are business types who enjoy the dapper atmosphere and admiring themselves and other guests in the large mirrored doors.
After the horrors of World War II, Vienna’s population was left shattered and starving in a battle-torn city. Many young women turned to the world’s oldest profession to earn some cigarettes (a valuable currency back then) from the allied soldiers. After meeting them in a nearby café, they would invite their new acquaintances to the hotel that is today called Hotel Beethoven – named after the famous composer who used to live right around the corner (and no, no one knows whether or not he was ever a customer here). Today, the hotel is a popular destination for tourists who want to soak in a bit of Vienna’s naughty side.
After a couple of drinks, the stars might appear closer than they are – especially in this cosy bar in the ninth district, where the ceiling is sparkling with a thousand lights. You’ll find a go-go stage in the centre of the room and what was formerly a “gentleman’s room” equipped with comfortable seating and a chimney – one can almost see the spirits of former costumers enjoying a cigar in the company of a young lady of the night. This is one of Vienna’s most popular bars for private events as it can easily be rented for a night, and while the company might not be as illustrious as in the olden days, it still makes a great venue for a theme party.