Bad Gastein, Austria.
It's ski season (duh), and demand is higher than Mont Blanc this winter. We're avoiding crossing skis with the Courchevel crowds by seeking out lesser-visited locales for our annual snow fix, and Bad Gastein's belle-époque beauty and top-notch spa scene has put it high on our list while looking at where to book.
There's something distinctly Wes Anderson-eque about this elegant Austrian town. Once a favourite of European royalty, who found its curative waters and restorative mountain landscapes suitably de-stressing, it's now where in-the-know Austrians and Germans head to hit steep, relatively empty slopes and carve up scenic cross-country routes. Bad Gastein is higher than most Austrian resorts, so you can count on the powder to be uber-reliable - and considerable snowfall is expected across the region for the 2023 season, too.
Bad Gastein's belle-epoque elegence, left, and a skier on the slopes. | Photo credit: Nikolpetr / Shutterstock.com
A spa day. The word "bad" means "spa", so pampering comes with the territory. Dip into wellness retreats dotted across the area - our favourite is Felsentherme, where mineral-rich indoor and outdoor thermal baths fill with water from 18 different mountain springs.
Where to stay?
Stay at architect and hotelier Ike Ikrath's Hotel Miramonte for sweeping valley views, a private Aveda spa and 36 elegant, yet intimate, bedrooms.
Where to go for dinner?
People climb mountains (literally) to enjoy the wood-fired pizzas at Jägerhäusl (Kaiser Franz Josef-Strasse 9, 5640).
And for a drink…
Try The Blonde Beans, a Swedish-owned café serving coffee made from Malmö-roasted beans and Gastein mountain water. The sticky homemade kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) are a bonus. You'll find the café across the street from the train station.
Hotel Miramonte's distinctive lounge area, left, and the outdoor terrace.
Who to take with you?
A keen skier. With 760km of pistes, 270 lifts and 45km of cross-country ski trails on offer, you'll want the company of a snow pal who knows their salopettes from their ski pants.
Essentials to pack
Talking of salopettes… we're making Free People's All Prepped Colorblock Bibb part of our slopeside wardrobe this winter.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Gatwick to Salzburg, from where you can hop in a transfer shuttle and be buckling your ski boots in just 90 minutes.
This article was updated 28 November 2022. It contains affiliate links, which means SUITCASE may earn a small commission if you click through and book.