Be a princess or at least feel that way. In the meantime, you can rent apartments in many castles as a holiday guest. Since some time also the “Imperial Suite” (167 sqm) of  Schönbrunn Palace, the former home of Empress Elisabeth and Franz-Joseph of Austria.

The suite is located above the former sleeping chamber of the mustached Emperor and above the study room of Sisi (not Sissi!), who was murdered in 1898. After a major renovation, the suite has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a salon, a living room and a kitchenette as well as extras such as flat screen TV, stucco ceilings, chandeliers, etc.

According to the style of Maria Theresia (the mother of Marie Antoinette, who died on the guillotine), the suite is decorated in white, black and gold, combined with the imperial pineapple damask design of the Viennese court.

Of course this accommodation has its price; a regular night is available for about EURO 700.-; weekend / wedding arrangements including traditional Fiaker (horse)carriage, roses, champagne, private cook etc. are around EURO 5,000.- or on request.

Also the Austrian Federal President appreciates the royal ambience; since 1946 the presidential chancellery is located in the so-called Leopolds wing of the “Hofburg” (official imperial residence).

On the other hand, only a few people know that also private individuals respectively “normal  people” like you and me are allowed to live in the former residences of the Habsburgs today.

However, despite all the charm, living in history-rich real estates also means restrictions in everyday life.

Although the waiting list for those castle flats is long, the Federal Ministry of Economics (responsible for flat administration) ensures that there is no preference for “higher levels”. It requires no special contacts, good references are of course not a disadvantage. The apartments are subject to regular rental law which means there is a right of entry in the case of death as well as a right of rental continuation for common household-members.

A total of 187 residential units are under the administration of the Austrian Republic: for example 47 in the HOFBURG of Vienna, 57 in the BELVEDERE, 11 in the AUGARTEN, 12 in ORTH Castle on the Danube and 39 in the HOFBURG of Innsbruck. Belvedere (Innsbruck)

The description of private living in a historical context is rather sober: The apartments are between 30 and 200 square meters in size and are classified in the normal standard (category A). There is no special equipment. In the Hofburg, for example, the apartments do not have any representative premises and are mainly located on the third floor in the former staff rooms. In general, there is a reasonable rent according to the average rental statistic of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber – operating costs are as usual.

Typical tenants are people who prefer a historical environment and are prepared to live with certain limitations. For example, the fact that the design of the apartments is largely limited by the historical building appearance, and is maintained according to conservation principles. The lack of modern infrastructure has – sometimes – taken into account. For example, apartment tenants in the Hofburg in Vienna and in Innsbruck, have to reckon with few shopping facilities for daily needs, parking problems and noise caused by events.

Also the inhabitants of the private apartments in Schönbrunn Palace have to deal with certain restrictions in everyday life. This is caused by the status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (eight million visitors per year). For example, tenants are not allowed to decorate their windows as they like. In a special situation, even in the selection of curtains certain colors are not accepted, as these – according to cultural and operating standards  – could represent a visual impairment.

Also concerning the access to the castle area, special permits and control measures have to be considered. As a “compensation” apartments are offered at local rental rates between EURO 10.- and 17.- per square meter, partly with views to the castle park and the Gloriette, but also to the narrow courtyard.

The apartments are very different in every respect, also in terms of size, height (2-3 m) and room layout. And as everywhere, there are apartments that have been inhabited for decades by the same people, but there are also several new re-rentals per year.

If you want to stay here, you can reserve yourself a place on the waiting list. Good chances for vacancies are usually indicated upon renovation phases.

Take a look at the next visit, if there a “flat free-sign” at the entrances.

Incidentally, also in Bavarian castles (for example Nymphenburg in Munich) apartments for permanent rent are open for everyone. Depending on the domestic equipment, however, these are sometimes more expensive than those offered in Vienna.

Also in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern many renovated stately manors and castles wait for permanent tenants. We really enjoyed the 1.5 years in the historic walls of Roggow Manor (nobles of Oertzen) close to the banks of the Baltic Sea (near Rerik/ Kühlungsborn). If you want to know more about this estate, please feel free to contact me.



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