Loos American Bar

For fans of architecture, the Loos Bar is a must while in Vienna. Adolf Loos, one of the first modern architects in history, is best-known for his infamous Looshaus (1910-12), a provocatively undecorated building that outraged the Habsburg royal court living across the street from it on Michaelerplatz.

The American Bar (1907), hidden on a downtown side street off Kärntner Straße, embodies the stylistic philosophy of Loos: exquisite materials marble, mahogany, alabaster without superfluous decorations. The dim cocktail bar is tiny, the impact is striking (lots of mirrors are meant to enlarge the space). That portrait hanging on the wall: he's Peter Altenberg, a close friend of Loos and a famous Viennese coffeehouse poet.

The crowd is heavy on tourists and scoring one of the few precious seats is nearly impossible, but a visit is worth it for a peek at least. Try going during off-hours.

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