Sunday, 29 March 2015

Favourite hotels: immaculate luxury in the Alps

Number 1 in an occasional series on special hotels senior travellers will love

It’s an old cliché is that the best hotels go the extra mile to keep its guests coming back. The Gotthard in the Austrian resort of Lech certainly does that. Not long ago I fractured my hip on the ski slopes while staying there. The front desk found my wife a hotel close to the hospital where I underwent an operation. They stored the skis, boots and clothes, which we were now unable to carry home, until we returned to pick them up in summer – a return visit we were delighted to make.

The best hotels also leave you with small, warming memories: a lovely buffet breakfast in the garden at the Gotthard on a sunny morning before setting out on a hike in the Arlberg mountains (for those who turn up without them, day backpacks are provided in the bedrooms); a Schnapps graciously offered when dinner is a little slow arriving; the lovely cakes and rolls from the hotel’s own bakery which we take with us for a picnic lunch; a large Wiener Schnitzel for dinner in the Lecher Stube, one of the hotel’s two restaurants, which almost defeats my appetite despite a hard day of steep climbs and descents (they do smaller Schnitzel portions – of pork or veal).

The hotel, which has an indoor pool and fitness room has been in the Walch family since 1931, It’s now run by third generation  Clemens and his Australian wife Nicole.

If you don’t want to walk independently ( the Lech card, available to visitors staying on night or more,  gets you free rides on buses and most  lifts) the hotel offers a programme of guided hikes in summer. It's a short walk to the Rufikopf cable car (about £7.50 ride up, using the Lech card, or roughly £10 there and back) which gets you to 2362 metres for wonderful, open, treeless skiing or hiking, sometimes, in summer to the whistling of marmots).

For this level of quality, it's remarkable value. A night's b&b costs around £108 for two in a superior room in September, say, or £130 in a de luxe room in high summer. Depending on your appetite two could easily eat for around £60 with drinks in the Lecher Stube a la carte restaurant. In the ski season room prices are significantly higher.

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