Lech is one of the most exclusive of Alpine resorts. Tucked at the very end of a high mountain valley within the huge Arlberg ski system, it has a peaceful and laid back atmosphere alongside a determinedly eco-friendly approach to tourism. Its pretty low-rise chalets line a mountain stream whilst craggy mountains look down from every side. The resort is dotted with sophisticated hotels and upmarket boutiques that impart a Heidi-meets-Gucci atmosphere, and it is easy to see why Lech was a regular destination for Diana, Princess of Wales, and still is for many other Royal families, celebrities and sports stars.
We were invited to visit the Hotel Kristiania, a boutique destination, located a ten minute stroll – or free private shuttle – to the village centre and ski lifts. Furnished with its own unique combination of mountain hutte aesthetic, antique furniture and contemporary art (the owner is a big collector), the style of the hotel is determinedly individual.
Our visit was just before Christmas, and despite a riot of seasonal greenery, decoration, baubles and candles adding to a risk of sensory overload, the whole effect was charming and interesting. You were certainly left in no doubt that you were somewhere high in an Alpine village during a festive season.
Each room too is uniquely styled with the same decorative charm. Rich fabrics, colourful ethnic materials and decorative lighting are all combined with original artwork and chic black and white bathrooms. There is also plenty of choice with multiple room and suite sizes, plus interconnecting options, providing varied potentials for larger groups.
Notwithstanding the striking interior designs, a glance through any window reveals the hotel’s main attraction: it’s astonishing views, surely the very best in the whole resort. Raised a little above the valley floor the hotel’s panorama over the fields to the resort centre, tucked under dramatic peaks, is magnificent. Early morning and sunset the sun painted the mountains with a pink or orange palette. At night both the stars and village lights twinkled against the snow.
With such a stunning backdrop, evening meals were another highlight. Our five course meal would typically extend to seven, with a delicious tasting item and an immaculate amuse-bouche selection before the first course arrived, although options for a delicate soup or a healthy smoothie helped to save the meal from being rather too filling.
Even the simplest sounding options would be memorable: the mushroom soup for example was exquisite – creamy and richly flavoured, presented frothy and garnished with truffle oil in a beautifully white decorated bowl. A knowledgeable sommelier would carefully introduce us to the perfect wine pairings. Dinner might stretch to two hours or more, but we didn’t care; it was by far the best dining experience that we have ever had in a ski hotel.
The small wellness area has a sauna, whirlpool and relaxation room, where revitalising massage treatments help to unwind after a hard day on the slopes. The fact that it was being refurbished during our stay was no problem as an arrangement with the luxurious Gasthof Post allowed us to take advantage of their amazing facilities including heated outdoor pool.
Attention to detail and guest care was impeccable, and everything seemed to be possible. Want a steaming, aromatic bath waiting for you in your room after a strenuous day on the slopes, a romantic picnic in the snow, a helicopter flight over snow-topped peaks, or a caring nanny to give you some special time-out as parents? It can all be arranged.
Other extra services seem to be endless. Private airport transfers with meet and greet, ski butlers to help with your skis, and a boot butler for boots. There is an efficient free village/lift shuttle available any time and at apres ski, a complimentary freshly-baked torte waiting at the cosy Rote bar. There is a turndown service, a bedding menu, you can select your bathrobe type, plan for dietary preferences, request a bath butler and probably much, much more.
We haven’t even mentioned the amazing skiing yet but in Lech not everyone actually cares. One of the things you soon realise about the resort is that everything is there, if you want it. And if you want the ultimate in luxury Alpine holidays, then Lech is undoubtedly the place to find it.
For more information visit www.kristiania.at
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of Hotel Kristiania and Lech-Zurs Tourism.