’Live like a local’ idea extends to Trieste

There are a couple of ways of explaining the URBANAUTS’ formula for success when launching a new hotel. One way they describe it is to offer guests the opportunity to experience the particular city as authentically as possible, and another is their “live like a local” concept. What it adds up to, they say, is a rethinking of the idea of a hotel, and it seems to be working because they have just expanded out of their home country Austria for the first time, to the Italian port city of Trieste.

In Urbanauts’ own words, it means opening modern, chic and centrally located studios to provide the perfect starting point for exploring the surrounding area. And this is not necessarily the well-trodden tourists trail, for instance their grätzlhotels in Vienna are outside the Ringstrasse and Innere Stadt, rather than inside, and a selective network of partners in the area enables guests to experience what is termed “the Essence of Local”. Encountering the city as authentically as possible – this, in a nutshell, is the concept of Urbanauts.

The idea originated in 2012 when Urbanauts GmbH realised its first innovative grätzlhotel in Vienna’s Belvedere district. Former shops were transformed into hotel rooms with a new design to offer visitors a particularly authentic Vienna experience. The Budapest Times stayed in the grätzlhotel Karmelitermarkt in Vienna’s second district, Leopoldstadt, and one thing we enjoyed was seeing the easily distinguishable men residents whizzing around on their bikes in this traditionally Jewish neighbourhood,

In each of the locations across the Austrian capital, and later the Upper Austria city of Linz, the neighbourhood itself is the hotel lobby and, as Urbanauts Managing Director Theresia Kohlmayr describes the concept, the company sees itself as a discreet travel partner. “We offer our guests a network of fellows and then it’s up to the guests to follow our recommendations or embark upon their own adventure,” she says.

As with all Urbanauts accommodation, the new venture in Trieste, Urbanauts Studios Minelli, has no lobby: there is a keybox and the self-check-in enables guests to arrive as they wish. The same is true of the check-out, which allows them to simply leave the key on the table in the studio when they depart.

Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

The Urbanauts Studios Minelli are 36 newly designed studios in a partly listed 19th-century palazzo in the picturesque San Vito district, overlooking the Gulf of Trieste. The modern studios, each equipped with a small fitted kitchen, come in three sizes: Cozy, Comfy and Spacy, 30, 40 and 50 square metres respectively. This aims to provide something for everyone, whether they’re visiting the port city alone or on business or enjoying the Italian culture and sunshine together with the family.

The studios extend over six stories, the last of which offers a terrific view across Trieste’s rooftops to the sea. The refurbishment was the work of the Vienna architectural office BWM Designers & Architects. Earlier, the office played a major role in the design of the Urbanauts grätzlhotels in Vienna “The design concept is influenced by the typical colours of the city and celebrates the ‘dolce far niente’ (sweet doing nothing)”, explains Erich Bernard of BWM Designers & Architects.

The entire spectrum is covered, from the delicately pink sky, via the darkly sparkling sea, to the classic red aperitif. On the ground floor, which is laid out as a community space, the motif of the “Città degli scrittori” – city of writers – is quoted and then implemented in the form of a communal table in the heart of the library, which recalls Trieste’s famous antiquarian bookshops, and comfortable reading chairs.

The idea of experiencing the city like the locals in the tightly-knit neighbourhood could involve Italian specialties such as the locally roasted coffee or an aperitif overlooking the port. The neighbourhood itself is the hotel lobby and the accommodation enjoys a symbiotic relationship with its social context. The chosen location enables guests to set off to explore the city on foot.


Urbanauts Studios Minelli opened on March 17, 2023

Via della Madonna del Mare, 4

34124 Trieste, Italy


  • Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

  • Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

  • Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

  • Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

  • Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

  • Photo: Roberto Pastrovicchio

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