This Hotel in Vienna Serves Amazing Vegan Filipino Food
The former capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire isn’t exactly known for being hip. The vast majority of tourists comes to experience the city’s history, classical music and cafes. But over the last decade, a creative resurgence has taken place.
Perhaps it’s the steady influx of German university students who are here to take advantage of the almost-free education. Maybe it’s the overall quality of life which attracts expats. Whatever the reason may be, it has slowly started to transform Vienna’s introspective yet charming culture.
Naturally, change starts in young, cheap neighborhoods, and in the former imperial city, that is Vienna’s 7th district, Neubau. Walking down its beautiful streets at night, you’ll now find tapas restaurants, heavy metal dive bars and 3D gaming joints.
At the heart of the hip Neubau district is the Hotel am Brillantengrund, an unlikely success story in a city dominated by the first district’s grand hotels. Run by the young Filipino-Austrian Marvin Mangalino, a former film editor without any previous hotel experience, the 39-room boutique hotel is a home away from home for Vienna’s creative class.
While on a sabbatical, Marvin was looking for a new challenge, a non-commercial outlet for his creativity. The dream of owning a hotel wasn’t really his, but that of an old friend looking for a new venture after having co-founded Lomography. It was then, while accompanying his friend to one of many hotel viewings, that he fell in love with the 300-year-old Biedermeier-style hotel, which at the time barely attracted any paying guests.
With his family and friends-centric approach to running a business, it wasn’t long until Marvin had convinced the owner to lease the building to him instead of the big hotel chains also vying for the location. Without major funds at his disposal to make radical changes, he left the original interior from the ‘70s intact, while continuing to add ‘50s and ’60s furniture finds to the rooms. He even kept the receptionist, who has worked the front desk for an entire three decades.
In the kitchen, Marvin’s mom Precy is in charge. Originally from Pasig, where she used to cook in her father’s karinderia, she’s been tasked with introducing Filipino home-style cooking to a Viennese crowd. And with Mama Mangalino being allergic to gluten, they had the idea of offering elevated gluten and lactose-free vegan versions of traditional dishes like adobo, sisig and bistek tagalog. They even serve siopao burgers. Eager to venture beyond the usual vegan and vegetarian options, many young people in the neighborhood were instantly drawn to her food.
For Marvin, Hotel am Brillantengrund is more than just a hotel. He wants it to be a place where everyone feels at home, a space for creatives to meet and, of course, a venue for his many different ideas. It’s even become quite popular with artists like Action Bronson and Hudson Mohawke.
The hotel has opened its doors to the Red Bull Music Academy, turning hotel rooms into makeshift studios, and the garage into a live venue and bar. There are also regular art and photo exhibits, with proceeds going to worthy causes like the Yolanda relief effort and helping refugees in Vienna.
Regular master classes, too, are held by renowned graphic designers, typographers and illustrators. It even has its own bicycle racing team, which meets almost daily in the hotel’s courtyard. Naturally, with the hotel’s artistic pedigree, the team designed its own racing gear.
You don’t have to be a cycling enthusiast, an adventurous vegan or a young artist to love the Hotel am Brillantengrund. If you’re ever in Vienna and tired of schnitzel and classical music, come by for the hospitality, unique take on Filipino food and laidback neighborhood vibe.