These cold weather conditions make it pretty hard to motivate oneself to leave the warmth of the pillow fort you’ve built at home. But we’ve rounded up for you some of our favourite Vienna cafes with fireplaces, all of which are perfect to snuggle down at, and lose yourself in a good book.
We’ve even included a few book recommendations that we think match with each cafe setting!
Café Jelinek is one of the reasons why we love living in Vienna – it’s dripping with true Viennese coffeehouse charm and is the perfect place to spend some lazy idle hours, or time with intense thoughts. The wood oven greets you as you enter, and while there’s no seating directly next to it, the cafe is small enough so that its warmth and glow is felt throughout. And it has to be one of the cosiest places to inspire reading. From the patine-stained walls covered with pictures of famous faces, the very well-worn wooden floor, to the comfortable scruffy velvet sofas, it feels as if nothing has changed since Jelinek became popular in the 80ies (It was actually opened by a Jewish couple back in 1910). We love the little marble coffeehouse tables, while a prime people watching position can be scored at the much prized seats by the big windows. With a collection of Stammgäste of all ages, the only challenge is getting yourself one of the comfy little booths to settle down in with a book.
Recommended Reading: ‘I was Jack Mortimer’ by Alexander Lernet Holenia because, well some of the action takes place on the same street as the cafe. Or the Nobel Prize winning wordsmith, Elfriede Jelinek, who this lovely cafe is named after. You could also get away with Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, or, something completely random and old like Pride and Prejudice from Jane Austen. Or, if you’d like something more rock and rolla, go for a modern classic like Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn, or The Unbearable lightness of being by Milan Kundera. And did we mention, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. So as you can tell, anything goes in Cafe Jelinek.
Torn, broken and mismatched furniture paired with a shabby chic charm and the crackling flames of a fire place – this is the lulling bubble of calm at the café attached to the vintage clothes boutique, Burggasse 24. The high, white wooden ceiling frames the café nicely and separates it from the neighbouring vintage clothes boutique attached, where you can purchase an outfit that will help you blend in to the effortlessly chic setting. The rustic, sweeping space of Burggasse24 is airy and bright, but is somehow intimate and personal. To think such a beautiful space was once a wheelchair store. This is a living room cafe with couches, a streetlamp plonked in the middle of it and not one, but two fireplaces, which exponentially increases your chances of getting some fireside action.
Recommended Reading: something like a Beatnik page turner like Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, or Factotum by Charles Bukowski. Otherwise, while the fashion is bold and creative next door, dive into the Pornographer of Vienna by Lewis Crofts.
We came in for a quick cup of coffee and ended up staying for hours on a very well-worn leather couch, filling our bellies with a pesto-tomato-mozzarella toast and soaking in the atmosphere that a room full of people’s chatter creates. Herein lies the magic of Café Kafka, a small bohemian looking café that, even though it’s located just off the busy Mariahilfer Straße, is still a secret spot amongst locals seeking peace, good coffee and a fire place during the day, or a lively, handsomely rugged night spot. The tables are small and normally just for two, so you can easily sneak in there alone for a quiet read.
Café Kafka performs the role of being a traditional Viennese coffeehouse (opened in 1880) with a few modifications. Besides having blues, soul, or other fitting music genres floating around the place (it’s atypical for a coffeehouse to play music), the Goulash and Würstels are replaced by a vegan and vegetarian focused menu. There’s a bohemian art vibe here, which is added to by the black and white portraits decorating the yellow, nicotine-stained walIs. It’s usually filled with people leisurely reading their papers, working on their laptops, or meeting up for study groups.
Recommended reading: well, it would be rude not to read one by the man Kafka himself so Metamorphosis would be our tip. Failing that, or if you fancied being less of a cliche, how about another German classic like Tonio Krüger by Thomas Mann, or a Hermann Hesse or Günter Grass. But if you’re feeling like a dreamer, call upon Rilke to complete the perfect afternoon by the fire.
Opening times MON–WED: 7:30am–1pm THUR–FRI: 7:30am–2am SAT: 10am–2am SUN: 10am–1am
Cafe Espresso possesses more character, history and stories than a 90-year-old drag queen. Cafe Espresso isn’t decked out in all their retro glam because retro and vintage are hip – no, Cafe Espresso is just an old-timer that has never grown old. It’s a pleasure to sit amongst the scarlet red leather booths and baby blue walls of its insides, and the street-side Schanigarten out front makes for the perfect place to sip coffee and enjoy breakfast. This living legend is the kind of place you can earn your hangover from the night before, and try to fight it off with a filling and fantastic breakfast the day after. The fireplace is nestled in the corner of the smoking area, blissfully right by the door so the warmth can be felt no matter where you manage to grab a seat.
Recommended reading: Cafe Espresso is a living piece of Vienna’s history so best to go with one of Vienna’s finest wordsmiths, like Thomas Bernhard, or Stefan Zweig. While reading Patti Smith’s biography here, Just Kids seems appropriate. Or some Stefanie Sargnagel suits this place like a glove.
Opening times MON–FRI: 6:30am–10pm SAT–SUN: 6:30am–12pm
Stepping into Hotel Daniel’s cafe, you feel like the neighbouring botanical gardens has encroached on somebody’s delightful looking living room. It’s a thing of shabby, chic beauty. The setting is full of mismatched furniture, including a swinging sofa, and a heap of plants, while the spacious al fresco setting is surrounded by the greenery of the hotel’s front garden. While reading a book when the breakfast buffet is being served is not advisable, catching a coffee here at any other time is the dream. With lots of natural light streaming in and a few sofas to nestle into, this cafe inside this hipster hotel is a solid choice for bunkering down with a book.
Recommended Reading: because of the boat melting off the top of the hotel’s roof, we’re suggesting it should be ship related – Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, or Robinson Crusoe by Defoe, if you feel like a classic. Otherwise, the hipster vibe may fill you with urges to read from modern hipsters like Lena Dunham, or the epic read, A Heartbreaking word of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. We’d also steer you in the direction of No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July. Or you can tackle some David Foster Wallace madness with his masterpiece, Infinite Jest.
Opening times TUE–SAT: 10am–12am SUN: 9:30am–11pm MON: closed
“If you need, there is a power socket by the window that you can charge your laptop on.” We were already in love with Marks before the friendly waiter came to us and offered us this very helpful information. How many restaurants/cafes would offer such information freely! And that’s the thing about Marks that makes it special – how authentically friendly it is to everybody that walks through their doors. There’s plenty of seating and tables to read at, or there’s piles of magazines and newspapers to flick through. Anything you order on the menu here (food or drink) is enough to inspire your intellect to go to great heights. And from most afternoons onwards they have a big fire raging in their open fireplace. This cafe really is warm and welcoming, whether its for the lavish breakfasts in the morning, a chilled evening of drinks with friends, or an afternoon of getting lost in a book.
Recommended reading: the clean aesthetics and the healthy brightness of the whole thing makes us think we should read some kind of self help book, or something generally inspiring. We’re thinking something like Murikami’s ‘What I talk about when I talk about running,’ or ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ by Richard Carlson.