Austrian resorts aren't the kind built half way up a mountain within the last 50 years; they’re original old-as-the-hills mountain towns – and so are their hotels.
Many have been in the family for hundreds of years, and welcome you into their wood-panelled lodgings like long lost relatives.
Blending in with Austria’s pretty-as-a-picture villages are some wonderfully old-school ski hotels. They aren’t all about who has the biggest pool or swankiest spa (though some score highly in both departments), but more whose guests have the widest smiles when they leave.
Dating back to the 17th century, the Tiefenbrunner has been in the Brunner family for not two, not twenty but TWO HUNDRED years; enough time to make it a master of welcoming service. The traditional Nassereinerhof was built in the 12th century as a customs station - and has been run for the last 60 or so years by the lovely Cordin family.
Some hosts put on traditional music evenings, which give a terrific taste of local culture. Staff dress in dirndl and lederhosen in certain hotels; others serve regional dishes like Gröstl and Schnitzel on top of the European favourites. And while exteriors and decor hark to days gone by, facilities and modern essentials like Wi-Fi keep up with the times.
No corners are cut in Austria’s high end hotels. Some, like the Sporthotel Lorünser, have nabbed prime positions on the side of the slopes, while others go all-out for facilities – Hotel Alpine Palace in Hinterglemm gets glowing reviews for its sports, spa and games rooms. Kirchberg’s Hotel Rosengarten shoots, and scores when it comes to gourmet glory - with more Gault&Millau points than any other restaurant and a whopping 2 Michelin stars.
Most half and full board hotels do a good mix of European favourites, often with hot, cold and continental options in the morning, and a different theme (Italian, Austrian…) each evening.
If you’re staying over Christmas or New Year’s Eve, you’ll often find that hotels host a celebratory gala dinner with all the trimmings. Some pensions and Snow Houses mightn’t be big enough to serve meals on site, but do have arrangements with nearby hotels and restaurants where you can have breakfasts and suppers.
A lot of the Austrian resorts were farming villages and market towns long before the ski lifts arrived, which means the bulk of hotels are a walk or bus ride from the slopes rather than ski-in, ski-out. But there’s always an exception to the rule (or in Austria’s case, a few exceptions…), and in mountainside resorts like Obergurgl, Hochgurgl, Zurs and Hochsolden, skiing from your doorstep’s the norm. This can make life a whole lot easier, saving you from having to trudge about in ski boots and meaning you can easily pop back to the hotel throughout the day if you need to.
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