Seventy kilometres away from the city of Salzburg, there is an alpine valley named Grossarl. It boasts 3,700 inhabitants, and views so pretty you could be staring at a screensaver. Except you’re not. You’re smelling the air, fragrant with flowers – and yes, the whiff of cows. You’re hearing the rush of the river. You’re tasting the cold bubbles in the glass of Prosecco that has just been handed to you. Yep – that’s the check-in process at the Grossarler Hof.
Run by two families, the Andexers and the Viehhausers, this traditional 4-star hotel is every bit as charming as you’d imagine. It features 49 rooms and suites, a restaurant, gym and state-of-the-art spa facilities, but it’s the panoramic viastas that woo you.
Take a look out of any window, or step out on to the balcony that runs along the exterior, and marvel at the colours: sky blue, cloud white, meadow green and geranium red. No offence, Beyoncé, but the Austrian Alps woke up like this.
The Rooms & Interiors
If you do manage to tear your eyes away, the Grossarler Hof’s interiors do not disappoint either. Mixing the best of chalet-chic and contemporary design, the rooms are an elegant harmony of oak floors, cosy rugs and luxurious linens. There is a flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, and a Nespresso coffee maker for those in the suites.
To my delight (and my roommate’s annoyance) there is a loudspeaker system in the bathroom, pumping out the very best in Austrian radio. You can turn it off via the dial on the wall, but really, why would you want to? My shower-singing reached hitherto unknown heights, and I now consider any bathroom without surround-sound to be slightly dull. Passé, even. Pointless.
Food & Drink
We continue our sensory journey with a meal at the Jagastub’n, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant. As we sit on gnarled wooden chairs beneath hunting trophies, listening to goldie oldies, it is easy to imagine we have travelled back in time. Chef Walter Viehhauser cooks up regional specialities with an emphasis on local produce and a modern presentation style. There are no schnitzels or strudels, but the cream of cucumber with shrimps quickly becomes My Favourite Thing.
Also worth noting is the fillet of trout roasted in lemon butter, served with black risotto and stewed tomatoes. Fresh, salty and just the right amount of tangy; it is a dish to be savoured.
What to See & Do
For those wishing to escape the mini-Eurovision happening in their hotel room, head down to the Erlenreich Relax & Spa. Here, a Jacuzzi, steam bath, infrared cabin and Finnish sauna awaits you. There is a selection of organic snacks and herbal teas at the Bio-Vital buffet, to which you can help yourself as you pad around in your fluffy bathrobe and towelling slippers. There is also a menu of treatments, ranging from the esoteric (‘Sun Power’ reiki) to the no-nonsense (full body massage). I opt for the latter – which is 50 minutes of pure indulgence – while my friend chooses the Éclat de Givre facial. She says her skin looks dewier, but if it does, I’m too blissed out from my massage to notice.
Of course, no visit to Salzburgerland would be complete without taking advantage of the Great Outdoors. The hotel is ideally situated close to the Grossarl cable-car terminus and the Hohe Tauern national park, which means that guests can explore the Alps in any number of ways: hiking, e-biking, or even paragliding. In addition, there is a supervised weekly programme of activities including guided walks and morning yoga.
One of the many great things about the Austrian Alps is its distinct seasons. The Grossarler Hof is open to guests from June to October or from November to April, with different experience packages on offer. While the summer months are an ideal time to try your hand at golf, fishing or climbing, the colder months open up so many possibilities. Why not explore the winter wonderland with a snowshoe walking tour or a torch-lit evening hike? Then, head back to the hotel for a mug of hot chocolate and listen to live music in front of an open fire. Whichever time of year you visit, you can be sure of a warm welcome – and an absolutely incredible view.
Rooms at the Grossarler Hof Hotel start from £77, which includes meals, spa access and a variety of activities.
Regular flights with easyJet airline from London Gatwick to Salzburg starting from £78 return. Regular flights with Austrian airline from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Salzburg starting from €300 return.