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The Original Sacher Torte at Hotel Sacher in Vienna: Yes or No?

Updated: Jan 3



Inside of Café Sacher in Vienna


Sacher is undoubtedly one of the most popular and renowned chocolate cakes and can be found and tasted all over the world. Nevertheless, this sweet delicacy first saw the light in Vienna in the faraway 1832 by the hands of a young Franz Sacher, whose son Eduard would establish one of the reference points of Viennese high society and, today, a main destination for all tourists in the city - the Hotel Sacher.


The Hotel Sacher still bakes its Sachertorte following the original recipe invented by Franz and today, besides being a luxurious 5-star hotel, is always crowded with dozens of people willing to try a piece of their signature cake for quite a high price.


Is this experience a so-called tourist trap or is it really worth your time and money spent there? Let's find out!


 

In this article:


Sacher Tasting at Hotel Sacher: The Hotel and the Torte
Sacher Tasting at Hotel Sacher: The Experience
Sacher Tasting at Hotel Sacher: Useful Info

 


Sacher Tasting at Hotel Sacher: The Hotel and the Torte



A view of Hotel Sacher from Philharmonike Str. in Vienna
A view of Hotel Sacher from Philharmoniker Straße

1. THE HOTEL SACHER


Sacher cake can be found all over the world and is omnipresent in Vienna and Austria but, If you decide to taste the original Sachertorte, the Hotel Sacher is your place to be!


The Hotel Sacher is located on the corner between Philharmoniker Straße and Albertinaplatz, at the heart of the historical center of Vienna and right in front of both the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) and the Albertina Museum, two institutions in the city.


When, back in 1876, the Hotel was founded by Eduard Sacher (1843-1892), the son of Franz Sacher, the first inventor of the modern Sachertorte, the initial name given to it was Hotel de l'Opéra to easily associate it with the nearby State Opera, but it was quickly changed to Hotel Sacher as soon as it became clear that its true treasure was the signature chocolate cake.


However, it was the Opera that brought in the most important guests and helped the Hotel become a luxury destination in the then-imperial capital. Proof of this today lies in the names given to some suites and spaces of the Hotel, which all come from the composing and classical music field.


When Eduard died in 1892, it was his young and ambitious wife, Anna Maria Fuchs-Sacher, who took over the Hotel and soon understood the role that the Sachertorte could play in its destiny: in a matter of years, the Hotel became a must for the Viennese high society attending performances at the Opera and for tourists (who, at the time, normally came from wealth only).


When the First World War broke in and the Austro-Hungarian Empire reached its end, the Hotel Sacher was already an institution in the city, but harsh times brought harsh consequences for it nevertheless. With the halt on tourism, on Opera performances and diplomatic trips to the city, the Hotel risked bankruptcy, which eventually came in 1934, four years after Anna Fuchs-Sacher's death.


Anna Fuchs-Sacher was a visionary and emancipated owner, but moving towards the second half of the 20th century a new approach was needed: the Hotel was purchased by the Siller and Gürtler families and was heavily renovated. This was also when the Sachertorte began to be more steadily sold on the street and shipped all over Europe and to the United States.


In Nazi Europe, Austria and Vienna unfortunately fell under the control of Germany and the Hotel faced a new period of decline: it was not before 1951 that the Siller and Gürtler could have their Hotel back. By then, it was already in urgent need of renovations and it would take a few more years before it could once more rise to popularity. This time, however, its fortune was not to be stopped again.


After passing fully into the sole hands of the Gürtler in 1962, Hotel Sacher initiated a period of expansion and embellishment, and by the 90s it was turned into an enterprise, opening several stores and branches in Vienna and in Austria (the very first venture outside the country is recent and located in South Tyrol, Italy).


The Sachertorte and the luxurious hotellerie experience remain the mainstays of the Hotel and its branches, thus continuing to attract hordes of tourists and illustrious guests. Among them, over the decades, are: Emperor Franz Joseph, Queen Elizabeth II of England, US President John F. Kennedy, Gustav Mahler, Graham Greene, John Lennon and Yoko Ono (who, in 1969 organized a singular press conference here).


The original Sachertorte served at Café Sacher in Vienna
The original Sachertorte served at Café Sacher with the trademark round stamp and a side of whipped cream

2. THE SACHERTORTE


If you are here, you probably know what a Sachertorte is, but let's make a quick recap!


The quintessential chocolate cake, the Sacher is made of two layers of dense chocolate sponge dough with a thin layer of apricot jam in between and is all covered in chocolate icing (which sometimes comes with some more apricot jam underneath). Also, it traditionally includes a side of unsweetened whipped cream (the typical Sahne) to facilitate its consumption, since without it the original recipe may be quite dry.


Today a solid part of mass culture, the Sachertorte was initially invented in 1832 in Vienna by Franz Sacher (1816-1916), who at the time was a young cook working for no less than Prince Klemens von Metternich, one of the most prominent and influencing political figures in the then-European scenario.


The story goes that on one lucky day in 1832, the Prince urgently requested a superb dessert to be served that same evening. The main chef was incapacitated, so 16-year-old Franz Sacher had to take over the task. Pulling from 18th-century cookbooks mentioning chocolate cakes with jam, he came up with his own version, which was very well received by the Prince and became the starting point of the Sacher family's fortune.


Of course, the enormous popularity of the cake made it a sought-after prey for those who wished to reproduce and sell it at high costs! Its recipe has always been a secret, but this has never stopped anyone from trying to unravel it. In fact, it is now said that its true key lies in the chocolate icing, which is made from three different German chocolates and gives the original Torte its iconic consistency and taste.


The most famous rival of the Hotel Sacher is maybe Cafe Demel Wien, whose first founder Demel Kávéház is said to have put his hands on the original recipe when Eduard Sacher Jr., son of Eduard Sacher, worked for him - if you are interested in a very similar and slightly cheaper version of the Sacher, this is a great alternative.



3. HOTEL SACHER AND THE SACHERTORTE TODAY



The Hotel Sacher - What to Expect

With its majestic imperial Viennese-style façade and interiors, today the Hotel Sacher offers all its guests the chance to experience a luxurious stay in one of its rooms or suites (a two-night-stay in their Deluxe Room can cost two adults 1350€, while if you opt for their Grand Signature Suite prices can go up to 5760€, as seen in the Hotel Sacher website).


While being able to afford this is certainly a luxury in itself, the Hotel Sacher is the perfect place to have a full glance at the everyday life of the imperial Vienna high society who used to gather here and find your cozy and warm spot among the imponent but rather cold surrounding buildings of Vienna's historical center.


Inside you will find precious tapestries, sumptuous furniture and crystal chandeliers, and infinite memorabilia of all those who visited and made the Hotel great. Basically, get ready for a jump into the Belle Epoque era but with a touch of modernity - in the end, what you are visiting is not a museum!


Of course, the Hotel Sacher does not only offer hotel stays but over the decades has divided its efforts into several cafés and restaurants - the original Hotel Sacher in Vienna today consists of the Hotel itself, restaurants Rote Bar and Grune Bar, the Blaue Bar, Café Bel Etage or Sacher Eck, Café Sacher, and Salon Sacher. More than that, the signature cake can be bought in place or in several other branches across Austria, and at the Vienna Airport, making the initial idea of a 16-year-old boy a true enterprise!


The Original Sachertorte - What To Expect

Today, although eating a good Sacher-inspired dessert is a piece of cake (lol), if you really want to taste the original one, Hotel Sacher and its affiliates make it really hard for anyone to get mistaken and buy the wrong one.

The Sachertorte in its official packaging
The Sachertorte in its official packaging

The original Sachertorte, the trademarked one, is clearly recognizable by the round-shaped chocolate stamp that comes on every single slice or on every whole cake. Even Demel Cafe, the place that is said to have obtained the original recipe, cannot produce nor sell any cakes with that stamp but must use a rectangular one.


Moreover, if you buy a Sachertorte from Hotel Sacher, it will come in a unique, squared, white, wooden box with golden details and the Hotel Sacher name written on it.


The Sachertorte you may taste today at the Hotel and that you can buy in place or online still sticks to the original recipe and is still accompanied by a side of whipped cream (if consumed in place) to smoothen its dryness.


Considering the important price the original Sachertorte comes with, be aware of any reproduction that may cost you good money! Here is an overview of what to expect from their online shop:


  • Small-sized cake (16cm diameter): 48,50€

  • Medium-sized cake (19cm diameter): 59€

  • Large-sized cake (22cm diameter): 66€


(Prices are updated January 2024)


Considering the prices for a whole cake, as you may imagine eating a single piece in place will cost you around 10€.


Is it worth it? Can this be considered a tourist trap or does it have a higher significance? It's finally time to find out!




 


Sacher Tasting at Hotel Sacher: The Experience



1. WHAT IT IS


If you decide to taste the original Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher, your experience starts at Philharmoniker Straße 4! Depending on whether you reserve your table online or opt for a last-minute walk-in, you may have to wait in line for some time - when I went there, I had booked my table so I was quickly seated, but I saw many people waiting outside. Vienna is a highly touristy city regardless of the season, so expect to find lines at any time of the year!


Once seated inside (the Hotel also has an outdoor area), what you should expect is a 5-star cafeteria service - experienced staff, curated menus, red-velvet couches and imperial-style furniture, soft music played in the background, precious decorations and paintings with a view of Vienna historical center.


Their menu offers you various choices of Sachertorte combined with hot or cold beverages and other hot or cold dishes.


Once you are done with your eating and drinking, you can pay the bill and walk away. Tips are not required but welcome.


➊ Café Sacher or Sacher Eck? In case you are wondering which one to choose or what might be the difference, you should know that Café Sacher and Sacher Eck are basically two portions of the Hotel Sacher specialized in direct service to customers who are not necessarily hotel guests. Café Sacher provides a more traditional atmosphere, while Sacher Eck has been recently renovated in a modern imperial style and includes an elegant shop.


Menus at Café Sacher in Vienna
Menus at Café Sacher

2. PRICES AND DURATION


Prices

As we have often said, the Hotel Sacher is a 5-star luxury hotel and a mainstay of Vienna, so if you pay a visit expect an expensive bill!


The total price of your experience may vary according to what you decide to order, but this is an overview of some of the options:


  • Coffee: 6,5/6,9€

  • Hot Cocoa: 7,9€

  • Hot Tea: 6,9€

  • Sodas: 5,5€

  • Apfelsaft (Austrian/German-style apple juice), 0,25l: 4,5€

  • Sachertorte (slice): 8,9€

  • Combination of Sachertorte (slice) + hot beverage + mineral water: 20€


Prices are updated to January 2024, here you can check the full menu on the official Café Sacher website. And here the menu of the Sacher Eck, which offer is more diversified if you are looking for something more than a portion of Sachertorte.


Here is my receipt so you can check what I spent at Café Sacher in April 2023 for two Sachertorte and two cold beverages:


Receipt from Café Sacher in Vienna
Receipt from Café Sacher

Duration

The duration of your experience really depends on how much time you wish to spend there and whether you have reserved your table or not.


I reserved my table at Café Sacher, was seated and served rather quickly, ordered a Sachertorte with a cold beverage and spent roughly one hour there - it would be great to stay for half a day, read a book and watch life in Vienna unfold outside the window. However, considering the ever-present long line, you will definitely feel the urge to leave your table to someone else at some point!


If you did not reserve a table, add 15 to 45 minutes of waiting to the overall duration.


A glance at the imperial-style interiors of Café Sacher in Vienna
A glance at the imperial-style interiors of Café Sacher

3. YES OR NO?


After all we have said, is tasting the original Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher worth the high price and possible waiting?


I have often read about and heard people say that this all felt like a tourist trap and that the whole experience was a capitalist disappointment. Personally, I believe it depends on how much you know beforehand, and this is why I decided to write this post.


YES If you are fascinated by imperial Vienna, you love historical buildings and atmosphere and wish to spend some time in a venue that is not a museum nor a historical reproduction but a hotel that has seen history unfolding (or sitting) in its rooms and is part of it itself, this is your place to be.


Also, if you are a first-time visitor to Vienna and have never tasted the Austrian-style Sachertorte, the high prices may be justified by the 5-star, luxurious atmosphere, the significant historical role the Hotel played, and the uniqueness of the Sachertorte's recipe.


NO If this is not your first time in Vienna or you are not much into the imperial era of the city but are a huge fan of Sacher cakes and you like them most in their modern version - moisty and jammy - this may not be the right place for you.


Hotel Sacher proudly sticks to the original recipe made up by Franz Sacher which, invented in the 19th century, may not fully match our current tastes. You may find it quite dry and the whipped cream that comes with it may disappoint you if you are not used to Austrian Sahne, which is unsweetened and quite dense.


Thus, if you are only looking for a good dessert, there are plenty of other, less expensive choices.


A tourist trap is an artificial experience thought to spill money from tourists' wallets and that has nothing to do with history, art or culture - which is not what Hotel Sacher offers, although it looks clear that the hotel is heavily exploiting its fame to make profits - whether this may be worth it or not really depends on your priorities!


Interior decorations of Café Sacher in Vienna
Interior decorations of Café Sacher

4. ALTERNATIVES


Have you made up your mind and decided that you may be still willing to try an Austrian version of the Sachertorte but maybe not to wait and spend good money to taste it at Hotel Sacher?


The Austrian cafe experience has become widely popular in Vienna and many other historical coffee houses offer similar options and high quality Sacher cakes.


Here are a few:


  • Demel Cafe Wien: with its long history and the privilege of having accessed the original recipe, the Demel Cafe is definitely your first choice. Firstly founded in 1786, it was only in the late 19th century that Demel became a main opponent of Hotel Sacher - its willingness to give itself a historical vibe is confirmed by the official website. Prices are slightly cheaper than at Hotel Sacher but shape, packaging and taste are very similar. Find it in Kohlmarkt, a short distance from the main Stephansplatz!

  • Gerstner K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker: a view of the Vienna State Opera, a slice of Sacher cake for a better price (6,70€ as of September 2023), an 1847 café and little to no line outside? If I got your attention, then Gerstner is your place to be, find it a few steps from Hotel Sacher, on the other side of the street.

  • Café Central: Another beautiful venue that aims to highlight its historical significance (it was founded in 1876, according to its website) and offers excellent desserts (among which is the Sacher cake) and cafeteria services. You can find it in the Innere Stadt (city center), in Herrengasse, same area as the Demel Cafe.

  • Kurkonditorei Oberlaa (Neuer Markt): my last suggestion is one I tried myself and would definitely recommend for its high quality cakes, service and location. Oberlaa has several branches in Vienna, but I visited the most popular on Neuer Markt, found no line but the perfect shelter for one of the frequent rainy episodes and enjoyed a wonderful view!


In all these alternative cafes, prices are still high but not as high as at Hotel Sacher and their recipes always slightly differ from the original!



 


Sacher Tasting at Hotel Sacher: Useful Info



1. HOW TO REACH THE HOTEL SACHER


The Hotel Sacher is located right at the very heart of Vienna's historical center, with a main entrance on Philharmoniker Straße 4 but cornering Albertinaplatz as well.



Considering its prominent location, it will most likely pop up in front of you if strolling in the Innere Stadt (the city center).


Anyway, here above is the Hotel on Google Maps so that you can easily access the directions from your position. Also, here are a few info to reach it:

  • By subway: hop off at station "Karlsplatz" served by lines U1, U2, and U4*.

  • By tram: the lines you can take are 1, 2, 62, 71, and D and your stop is Opernring.

  • On foot: from Stephansplatz it's an 11 minutes stroll to reach Hotel Sacher (800m / 2624ft) and same from Karlsplatz, while it's only 10 min from the Museum Quarter at Marie-Theresien Platz (700m / 2296ft) and 12min from the Hofburg (900m / 2952ft).


*Line U4 doesn't temporarily reach the station Karlsplatz, so you may need to change line.



2. OPENING HOURS


If you don't wish to stay at the Hotel Sacher but only to try their delicacies, here are the opening hours of the Café Sacher and Sacher Eck, two adjacent portions of the Hotel where Sachertorte are served throughout the day:


➊ Sacher Eck is open Mon-Sun from 8AM to 10PM


➊ Café Sacher is open Mon-Sun from 8AM to 10PM



3. HOW TO RESERVE A TABLE


In case you are planning your visit to Hotel Sacher in advance and wish to avoid waiting in line for some time, as I mentioned you can opt for reserving your table at Café Sacher or Sacher Eck and be sure to get quickly seated.


You can find the link to make your reservation at Café Sacher here - the procedure is easy and quick and you will receive a confirmation email.


Here is where you should click if you wish to reserve a table at Sacher Eck.


Once there, you just have to keep your reservation email in hand (if there is a line, just skip it and ask a waiter) and you will be shown inside.


If you reserved a table at Café Sacher your booking will not be valid for Sacher Eck, so if you wish your experience to have a modern touch, know this in advance!





 



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