Hotel Kristiania, Lech, Austria

Hotel Kristiania, Lech, Austria

Bypassing the need for marble-clad bathrooms and stiff ski butlers, expect retro design touches, fireside raclette and exceptional cocktails at family-run hotel Kristiania.

you’ve been to Lech, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been
before. You probably got swayed by the social lights of flashy
Gstaad, bouji
St Moritz
and blingy Courchevel.
But with its spectacularly better skiing over a vast and varied
area, superlative food in innumerable locations (fondue is an
exception here) and such comfortable, modern ski lifts that you
could be in the
, Lech is a stellar
ski resort
that stands the test of time and trends.

A chocolate-box village at the end of a valley that gets cut off
in wintertime, Lech offers a smattering of bars for après-ski
antics, though the rowdy crowds are banished to St Anton, aptly
named and positioned like San Antonio in Ibiza (i.e. a good
20-minute bus ride away). There are 15 hotels with five-star status
and myriad more catering to all levels, including pensions. All are
stylish and housed in beautiful chalets – no apartment blocks to be
seen here. But if you want to be made to feel like you’re in the
bosom of your own home, check into the family-owned Hotel
Kristiania, run by the two fabled Mrs Schneiders – mother and
daughter – who are the most discreet yet effective hosts you will
ever meet.

At Kristiania, nothing is too complicated and within minutes the
divine staff will know you by name. Each and every meal is
brilliant and your every whim is catered for, often before you even
know what you want. It’s like staying with close friends – better,
because if you’re not in the mood to talk at breakfast, you don’t
have to. The Kristiania is like Lech itself: cosy, elegant but not
fastidiously so, warm, welcoming, fun, and relaxed. It encapsulates
the very best of Austrian hospitality.


Each of the 29 rooms are quirky, fun and surprising. Personally
decorated by both Mrs Schneiders, they draw inspiration from exotic
travels laced with Marie Antoinette heirlooms and traditional
Austrian touches. Take your pick from classic to “themed” – or
plump for the penthouse suite with loft-style living room and views
across the mountains. All come with the usual hotel amenities but
in a homely format – no tennis-court-sized bathrooms swathed in
marble here.

What’s for breakfast?

Anything that takes your fancy as the Kristiana eschews the
ubiquitous hotel-style buffet for an a la carte menu. Local eggs
with speck and cheese are unmissable and will energise you for the
day ahead, as will the daily fresh juice shots.

How about lunch and dinner?

Take your pick from the Kristiania Restaurant with its
fine-dining Austrian cuisine, the cosy and romantic Kaminzimmer for
raclette or fondue next to the wood-burning fire, or eat in the
fabulous bar. The food is top-notch across the three – we’d
recommend taking half board for at least some of your stay. The
wine list is impressive, not in the usual show-off way but because
it is full of gems at good prices.

Is there a bar?

The Rote Bar is so good that if you’re not a barfly you’ll take
up drinking just to be able to hang there. The superstar barman
mixes a sublime old fashioned – particularly the bacon-infused one.
You can also get an excellent club sandwich.


There is a lovely albeit small spa with a sauna, steam room,
jacuzzi, glacial shower and treatment rooms. If you’re in a group,
you can book out the whole space. Transport to anywhere into or out
of town is very handy, although it’s only a 10-minute walk back
from the centre if you’ve eaten out and fancy a post-prandial

Things you should know…

There’s a cosy little corner called Kleine Halle just by the
entrance with a discreet little kitchen-style space which is a
divine spot to have tea and read a book. If you want to really know
what Lech is all about, spend time with either Mrs Schneider – both
will regale you with tips and tales.

Within a short walk you will find?

Restaurants galore, both for lunch and dinner, sometimes at the
end of an easy gondola ride into Uber Lech, sometimes just around
the corner. Fux, Griggeler, Goldener Berg, Bergkristall are all
fantastic, though our favourite has got to be Murmeli. A bit
further away is Rote Wand Chef’s Table in Zug, which is also not to
be missed.

Alessandro Tomé is a contributing editor at Spear’s

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