Unlike many other renowned Alpine resorts that are jam-packed with luxury hotels, Lech am Arlberg is a town for skiers, albeit those with lots of money, and its ski credentials are superb.
Not only does it host one of the oldest and most renowned ski clubs in the world, but it’s an integral part of a vast, interlinked ski area including St. Anton, Zurs and St. Christoph, and is simply stunning. It is also home to a number of world and Olympic-class ski champions including the famous Othmar Schneider whose medals add a touch of authenticity to my favourite hotel in Lech, the Kristiania.
Kristiania Lech sits at the head of the village, a 10-minute walk in ski boots from the lifts, and is owned and managed by Othmar’s daughter Gertrud, a wonderful ambassador for Alpine tradition who has created an intimate, quirky hotel that offers unbeatable personal service. I had the pleasure of four days at the Kristiania last Easter and was blessed with a week’s worth of fresh snowfall and startling blue skies.
My room lorded over the traditional village and its snow-covered rooftops, but had an African theme with warm, earthy tones and animal prints. No two of the cosy 29 rooms at the hotel are alike so there is a style to suit everyone from traditional Alpine chalet to Marie-Antoinette-inspired elegance.
Corridors are peppered with cushions and Moroccan lanterns, the candlelit bar is rich in colours and textures and the lounge chairs on the outside terrace are draped with blankets at night and thick duvets during the day for mountain gazing.
The Kristiania is part of Small Luxury Hotels and was awarded ‘Best Hotel of the World’ this year by the affiliation which didn’t surprise me given its personality – defined both by the team and the huge collection of contemporary art that Gertrud loves to display and change with the seasons – and its attention to detail.
I won’t give the game away because it’s a voyage of discovery but don’t miss the amber candles burning in the downstairs cloakrooms, the truffle honey drizzled over cheese at dinner, the local Gruner Veltliner wine and the treasure chests in each room.
The hotel works on a half-board basis which I usually find restrictive but, in this case, was a blessing as the food is excellent and the multi-course menu changes every night.
Lech am Arlberg is within 200km of four airports including Innsbruck and Zurich, and we loved the comfort and service provided by VIP chauffeurs ‘Arlberg Exclusive’ who cater to both commercial and private jet passengers.