Pilots need a special license to land an aircraft at Innsbruck Airport and a lot of skill. Snow-capped mountains completely surround it, and before landing, the plane seems to be flying parallel to the highest peaks. The view gives you a taste of what awaits you. The road to the small ski village of Lech takes you through winding tunnels carved into the mountain, the dark stone of which contrasts starkly with the glistening snow, which gets thicker and thicker the further you go. venture into the Arlberg region of western Austria.
A short drive through the winding streets of Lech takes you to Severin’s – The Alpine Retreat. The wooden building is nestled on the mountainside, giving you breathtaking views of the picture-postcard landscape. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a glass of champagne and ushered into the living room, where a fire burns in the corner. This is also where most guests enjoy their coffee and newspaper in the morning, and a cocktail and conversation in the evening.
We stayed in the family suite, which has a spacious living room with a fireplace, waterfall shower, and the first tub I’ve been able to fully immerse myself in. My favorite part was the balcony, where I started the day wrapped in my bathrobe listening to the silence that is never allowed to me in London, watching the sun set over the snowy roofs of the wooden huts with golden light pouring from their windows.
Lech is one of the best places for snowfall in Europe. It’s a quaint yet exclusive ski resort, and you can tell the people who frequent it are there for more than just apres-ski drinks. Skiing is an integral part of village life, with gondolas and ski lifts springing left and right from the river that runs through the town. There are plenty of assorted designer ski suits and Aston Martins parked outside restaurants and hotels, but this is understated luxury, which feels much more private and special. Around 80% of people who holiday in Lech are return visitors, and it’s easy to see why. A family of three generations would find slopes suitable for all; there are 300 kilometers of ski slopes for all levels. Equipment is available to rent or buy from Strolz, the local equipment shop. And there are plenty of other activities too. We took a cross-country ski lesson with an excellent local instructor who took us along riverside trails and on a snowshoe hike up the mountain, where we stopped to drink tea and watch a group of deer dip their heads in the snow.
The village is also greedy. Back at the hotel on Sunday evening, it’s fondue night; you can choose from beef, chicken or vegetable broth and you get a range of fresh meats and vegetables to cook in the bubbling pot. The sommelier is excellent at recommending accompanying wines. I would suggest trying the local offering; we had made one with austrian grüner veltliner grapes which were fresh and green, cutting through the richness of the dinner. During the rest of the week, you can order from the hotel’s carefully curated seasonal à la carte menu, which offers four courses, all accompanied by wine recommendations. I had the Tyrolean alpine prawn served in a rich bisque to start and the puff pastry confit of red alpine char for the main course. For dessert, I would recommend Severin’s Kaiserschmarrn – sweet and fluffy pancakes typical of the region served with roasted plums and applesauce. We also went to the exquisite restaurant at the Rote Wand, a fine dining hotel, which is also worth a visit.
Severin’s also has an extensive wine cellar that contains over 600 bottles from around the world, the oldest of which were bottled in the 1970s. If you want to experience the wine cellar, be sure to Let the staff know in advance as they have to arrange things with the sommelier, but they are happy to accommodate any requests we have made. The staff is what makes Severin truly excellent. Their attention to detail and concern for their guests transforms a beautiful home into a warm home.
Nicole was invited to Séverin. Rooms start from €690. The hotel closes for the season on April 19 and reopens in December 2023. See severins-lech.at.