We’ve all heard about ‘hygge’, the Danish concept of coziness and contentment which has become very fashionable lately, but did you know that there’s also a German word with a very similar meaning that has been in use since the mid-1800s? ‘Gemütlichkeit’, as it is known, is very much in evidence in the Austrian Alps, where chocolate-box farming villages have been transformed into smart – but still very charming – resorts. Nestled between the borders of Austria, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, the mountains here have their own unique Alpine culture. Visitors should expect friendly locals, fantastic food and lots of fun.
Though you might immediately think of skiing when you picture the snow-capped mountains, the Austrian Alps are actually a fantastic year-round destination. Ski slopes generally start to open in December, with the best of the snow lasting from January through to April. After that, spring sets in and the mountains bloom with flowers. Warm, sunny days generally last until late September, and visitors in the summer will find the perfect conditions for hiking, biking, and any other outdoor pursuits. The most convenient airport is located in the town of Innsbruck and is serviced by flights from across Europe. Although a little further away, the airports in Zurich, Switzerland and Munich, Germany also provide connections to many Austrian resorts.
The ski-area of Arlberg, in which both St Anton and Lech lie, is the largest in Austria and one of the five largest in the world, with almost 200 miles of downhill skiing. There are runs to suit all levels of ability, though, that said, if you are experienced you will find a particular wealth of challenging slopes within close proximity of St Anton. Wherever you stay, some of the smaller towns in the area are certainly worth dropping into for a hearty lunch, such as quaint St. Christoph with its picture-postcard village center. If you really want to push yourself there is heli-skiing available, which allows you to explore untouched off-piste areas at the highest points of these incredible peaks.
Aprés-ski is a fundamental part of the alpine experience everywhere in Europe, but the tradition is particularly strong in Austria. Still wearing your ski gear, head into a bar at the foot of the mountain, or to a chalet on the slopes, and join your fellow skiers in animated conversations about the day's sights and adventures. In both St. Anton and Lech there are spots to suit everyone's tastes, whether you want to relax with a glühwein – a spiced red wine served warm – or indulge in more spirited celebrations, in which case there are many places where the schnapps will the flowing, and the steins will be full with locally brewed beers.
The birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is famed for its baroque buildings, in particular, the Hellbrunn Palace, the Prince Archbishop's Residence, and the University. The Schloss Mirabell, a huge palace just outside the city, has more than just stunning architecture to offer though, as it is surrounded by some of Europe's most spectacular formal flower gardens which played a starring role in The Sound of Music. The Hohensalzburg Castle, built in the medieval era, and perched imposingly atop a small hill in the south of the city, is also worth a visit, not least for its panoramic views. After a long day sightseeing tuck into the region's signature dish – schnitzel. In Salzburg, they believe the breaded veal should be so tenderized that, once flattened, it is at least the size of the plate it sits on.
Though the mountains are generally seen as a venue for winter sports, St. Anton and Lech are by no means quiet in summer. Once the snows melt the Austrian Alps become arguably even more beautiful, as their mountain meadows bloom with wildflowers, and their dense pine forests come to life. Hikers flock to the mountains from May to September to immerse themselves in these landscapes, as do mountain bikers and paragliders. There is a special magic to experiencing the Alps from above, alongside the native golden eagles and griffon vultures, and there are a number of gliding schools in St Anton and Lech to help you get off the ground. Though, if you'd rather not exert yourself too much, there are also many spas taking advantage of the fresh mountain waters, where you can gaze at the snow-capped peaks without working up a sweat.
If you’re looking to sample the charms of this stunning region, be sure to check out our selection of luxury rentals in the Austrian Alps.
We have a wide range ofSt. Anton chalets to cater to every taste. The Chalet Maria Schnee is perfect for families with children, who will love its charming playroom and bunk beds, while the adults can spend their evenings chatting by the large, modern open fireplace. Groups of friends will feel at home in the Chalet Austria, which sleeps 29 across its three self-contained apartments. Each is fitted out with traditional wooden furniture, a fully-equipped kitchen, and spacious yet cozy living area, and all set beneath the traditional wooden beams. The majority of our chalets are in the Nasserein district of St. Anton, within a short walk of the main lift of the same name, though we also have luxury chalets in the pretty nearby village of St. Christoph, which is served by its own lift.
Austria's alpine design combines the best of the region's baroque architectural tradition with a sensitivity towards the use of local materials and an emphasis on creating warm, comfortable living quarters. Our luxury Austrian ski chalets embody this synthesis, with their abundance of careful carpentry, swooping beams and roaring fires. Visit with family or friends and relish your time together in one of our opulent mountain homes.
A favorite of the late Princess Diana and other European royals, exclusive Lech maintains a down-to-earth vibe, despite its blue-blooded patrons. Each Lech chalet rental we offer showcases traditional Alpine design, but for something different try the Uberhaus, an ultramodern chalet with its own bar, cinema, games room, and outdoor pool, perched on the side of the piste. At the other end of the spectrum, there's Chalet 1597. Built in the 16th century, it features the stone walls and supersized beams that are typical of the period.