We recently took a trip to the fantastic Austrian ski resort of Lech to check out the best luxury hotels and lodges it has to offer. If you're looking for a memorable few days in the mountains, be sure to read our top picks for a lavish stay in Lech.
We flew into Innsbruck and were collected efficiently by a minibus and driven up to our first port of call, the Hotel Kristiania. This magnificent hotel is situated in the heart of Lech, with its elevated position offering incredible views across this pretty town. Experience the stunning backdrop of the enormous mountains that surround it.
The hotel has several rooms, all luxurious yet completely different. Every room has a theme of sorts and are true to their given name but remain tasteful and luxurious.
The communal areas of the hotel are welcoming and cosy, with beautiful lighting and inviting open fires throughout. The warm welcome is enhanced by hotelier, Gertrude Schneider, the perfect host during our stay. Her energy and knowledge are second to none.
We left with the distinct feeling that this hotel is accustomed to welcoming returning guests and generations of families. All whom no doubt appreciate the home-away-from-home touches that the place is filled with.
The food lived up to and exceeded my (now rather high) expectations while the front of house staff and sommelier ensured we chose the perfect wine to accompany our meal. It was all utterly delicious, a thoroughly enjoyable first evening that set the tone for the trip.
Strolz Ski Centre
After a tasty breakfast, we went to Strolz, in the town centre of Lech, a ski shop like no other. The wooden shop, while unassuming from the outside, is more like a tardis on the inside. Elevators take you down four floors to a spacious, efficient, luxurious and ultra-modern ski boot fitting area where iPad-integrated technology ensures you leave with the perfectly-fitted kit. This shop also provides ski lockers, so you can ski off the mountain, head straight to Strolz, leave your skis, boots and poles and head back to your chalet, free of cumbersome kit.
(A note to those who might be tempted to take the stairs: there are a lot of them, and shiny, slippy floors are hard work in salopettes and ski boots! My advice would be stick to the elevator, especially if you’ve got children in tow.)
A fantastic local ski instructor took us on a truly magnificent route. Having skied several times in the Arlberg, today we were taken to new heights, conquering the ‘White Ring’; a beautiful circular route that takes you through Zurs and eventually back to Lech.
Hotel Goldener Berg, Oberlech
We then stopped in Zurs for a quick spot of afternoon tea. Sampling the famous local apple strudel, this provided much-needed sugar and energy to get to our next stop; the Hotel Goldener Berg in Oberlech.
This fantastic hotel is perched on the side of the mountain, affording the ultimate ski-in/ ski-out experience for those who would rather avoid the hustle and bustle of Lech itself. Oberlech is an idyllic village situated above Lech, only accessible by cable car or on-skis at an altitude of 1750m.
Fortunately, the new Lech-Oberlech cable car offers a quick, efficient trip, taking only four minutes to get down into the centre of Lech. Cable cars run every 15 minutes and more often at peak times. You can stay out late in the evening, too, with the cable car running from 7 am to 1 am.
The other brilliant aspect about Oberlech is that the whole area is linked through underground tunnels (so there’s no need to traipse through snow or bad weather to reach your destination.)
Connected to the Goldener Berg hotel is the restaurant Alter Goldener Berg, which is renowned for its fondue. The building itself is over 500 years old, so expect intrinsic character and charm. A panoramic wooden terrace allows you to watch people tobogganing down the piste into Lech, which is always entertaining. Note to anyone with kids: this is an excellent way of tiring them out in the evening, while you relax with a glass of wine.
We took the pleasure of tobogganing down to our hotel (it would be rude not to) where we promptly hit the hay.
After a good night’s sleep, in the morning, we visited another beautiful 5-star superior hotel, Severin’s Alpine Retreat. Chic, spacious rooms, with interiors by Reinhard Strasser combine with contemporary art for an opulent finish. It maintains the feeling of a private chalet rather than a boutique hotel yet offers everything you could need, including a stunning spa complex. Another great thing about this hotel is that you can opt for bed and breakfast stay, which makes it more versatile than other luxury hotels within the resort.
More skiing and then drinks with Gertrude back in our hotel and that was day two done.
Day three meant more exploring, before ending up in the Hotel Aurelio, a recently-finished smart, ski-in/ ski-out hotel which overlooks the village. Expect sweeping, modern interiors.
While the hotel boasts individually-designed bedrooms and suites, it also has an interconnected, private 8-bedroom chalet Aurelio Club Chalet Lech. Voted best “Luxury Chalet of the Year 2016”, we decided to pay the club chalet a visit, where we stopped for a gourmet lunch.
We ordered food from the hotel’s kitchen menu, created by 3-Hauben awarded chef Christian Rescher and his protégée, Markus Niederwanger. The food was outstandingly good and included Waygu beef tartare, Wienerschnitzel and Alpine naan, which was all delivered straight to our private dining room. Certainly, one of the more memorable lunches we had during our stay.
Our third night took us to Stuben where we relocated to the centre of the village. Stuben, known as ‘the jewel of the Arlberg’ is a beautiful historic village where many locals choose to drive to, park up and ski from. For this reason, this landmark village can get busy during the weekends but don’t let this put you off as it’s well worth the visit.
We headed into The Schneider Haus, also known as House Hannes Schneider. An old Austrian farmhouse, famous as being the childhood home of Hannes Schneider, father of modern alpine ski instruction.
It’s Schneider who we can thank for basic skiing instruction; who developed teaching techniques for everything from snow ploughs to parallel turns. Eventually indicted into the US ski hall of fame in 1958, the area’s pride in this heritage is distinct.
Hannes was a mentor of Gertrude’s father, and it was in memory of him that the former family home where he grew up was tastefully transformed into a cosy hotel with a boutique, heritage feel. Beyond that, the hotel is rustic and cosy, within easy walking distance of a couple of fantastic restaurants in Stuben.
A highlight of our time in Stuben was the toboggan ride. After piling into a minibus and paying a nominal fee, we were driven to the top of the nearby slope. With head torches attached, we flew down the slope on toboggans and met at the bottom for a glass of glühwein before strolling back to the hotel.
Our final day started with breakfast in St Anton, at the glorious five-star superior Hotel Tannenhof. Despite its enormous size, there are relatively few individual rooms within the hotel. Instead, you will find a handful of larger suites; all finished beautifully to an extremely high standard. Breakfast on their sunny balcony was terrific and the perfect way to end our time in Lech on a high. A short minibus back to Innsbruck and we were soon on the flight back to the UK.
Staying in Lech proved to be a delightful trip and one that I’ll be remembering for a while for all the right reasons. This is a ski resort that one day I’ll be returning to with my own family and is somewhere that I know can offer a little something for everyone.
If you would like to book a holiday in Lech, but you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and we can tailor our hotel and lodge recommendations to you.