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I first stood on skis (clumsily) a mere seven years ago in Austria. As a girl from Arizona with limited snow experiences at the time, the treacherous dream of becoming a decent skier felt quite unreachable. Now, here we are, not only a decentish skier, but madly in love with the classic alpine lifestyle surrounding it.
From Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn to the Cambridges, escaping to the alpine mountain villages of Central Europe has long been a traditional aspect of continental European living. Today, I’m sharing one of my most personally beloved and sentimental destinations: Sölden, Austria. I hope this article inspires you to plan your own winter holiday in this magical Tirolean hideaway.
What to Wear for a Classic Austrian Ski Holiday: Alps & Meters
Let me preface this romantic ski adventure with the fact it wouldn’t have been nearly as true to my spirit if I weren’t wearing the pieces that capture it. Alps & Meters celebrates quintessential alpine lifestyle with each and every design. Stitched and woven with the nostalgic spirit of vintage royal ski holidays and the modern winter princess in mind, this luxury alpine brand will be the only designs I support on the Austrian slopes in 2020.
From my iconic Monarch Jacket and perfect-fit Twenties Trouser (both of which kept me warm and classic at the summit of Austria’s windiest glaciers) to my beloved Ski Race Knit Monarch sweater (which I would gladly sport in every colour), these luxury designs transitioned effortlessly from slopes to five-star Tirolean dining in the village. Alps & Meters styles marry sporty versatility with the timeless alpine glamour my heart beats for.
My Alps & Meters pieces are a critical part of my sustainable, capsule winter wardrobe. Each classic piece is a pièce de résistance of alpine style in itself, making it perfect for every classic winter memory made. Stay tuned as I share a classic guide to alpine fashion and complete packing list this week, the very heart of that winter wardrobe forever being Alps & Meters.
When is the Main Ski Season in Sölden, Austria?
The destination boasts a snow guarantee between late October and April. As a person who considers skiing and alpine escapes a part of my lifestyle, Sölden’s unique snowy conditions make it my first choice as a getaway from London.
Where to Stay in Sölden, Austria?
For luxurious five-star hearts: Das Central // If you are devoted to luxurious details from check-in to check-out, Das Central is the place to stay in Sölden. It’s the classic choice for prime spa time, modern Tirolean cuisine and happens to boast my favourite lounge area (for writing, cappuccino, etc.). I also treasure the personal daycare for children, giving sport-loving parents a chance to enjoy slopes with peace of mind.
For wellness and design aficionados: Hotel Bergland // This is one of the most aesthetically thoughtful hotels I’ve experienced, and truly marries alpine luxury with Tirolean design. Oh, and if you need some wellness time, the “sky spa” should speak straight to your soul.
For sporty, modern hearts: Gruenwald Resort // For those whose travel spirits strike a middle between modern luxury and devotion to sports, the dreamy chalets and apartments of Gruenwald Resort will suit you perfectly. Ski in, ski out. The four golden words in Sölden. I stayed here during my “jetsetter” days (read the full report here).
For humble, traditional souls: book a pension // There are a variety of quaint, locally owned pensions throughout the valley (often by non-English speaking Austrian Omas and Opas, my favourite humans). These are often not advertised online as they want to avoid working with large corporations like Booking and Expedia. Therefore, they are best discovered spontaneously upon arrival with “Zimmer Frei” signage.
Where to Ski in Sölden, Austria:
There is no shortage of slopes for every level of skier. It’s a paradise for intermediate types, daring black slope lovers and off-piste explorers alike (with a guide, please). I happen to be a skier who enjoys the spectacular landscape exprience of easeful blues and the sweet adrenaline of reds, making Slope 30 my absolute favourite. 30 requires a few lifts to reach, but the heavenly views and spectacular ride down to my favourite red slopes make the journey all worth it (over and over again).
There are two main gondola stations which transport you to the main access points of Sölden’s 31 lifts and 144 kilometers of prime alpine slopes: Gaislachkogl and Giggijoch. You can get latest slope information and openings via Sölden’s interactive slope map.
Which Ski Pass to Buy?
There are a variety of ski passes to cater to any amount of days you’ll be in Sölden and these can be purchased directly at the gondola stations or provided with your hotel (depending on where you stay). You can find all information on ticket types, prices and options on Sölden’s tourism page.
If you plan on returning to Sölden a few times throughout the ski season or know you’ll be visiting more than fourteen days, I highly recommend buying a Season Pass for Obergurgl-Hochgurgl. With a single day costing €56, the pass is a practical investment for serious skiers.
If you plan on night skiing or partaking in tobogganing (sledding) on Wednesday at the Gaislachkogl middle station, you’ll need a special Night Ticket.
I highly recommend the new Otztal Valley Ski Pass (available when purchasing for three or more days), which gives skiers and snowboarders access to all slopes within the Otztal Valley, including Sölden and Obergurgl. There are buses connecting skiers to each main station throughout the valley, so no fret if you don’t plan on coming by car (though, I do recommend one).
Another appealing option to mention for those who value insurance, the Sölden Slope Rescue Card includes insurance for any rescue-related costs, including helicopter. This covers the Obergurgl-Hochgurgl area in Sölden.
Where to Take Ski Lessons in Sölden?
For those who want to improve their skiing techniques, increase confidence or simply want to start the lifetime love affair with the sport from the beginning, I can’t imagine a more idyllic place to learn. I actually took a private course this past trip to be more comfortable at higher speeds, so I’ll recommend the school I know personally: Skischule Solden-Hochsolden.
They have a large team of expert skiers who speak a variety of languages and cater to every skill level. They are mostly available even during peak season, but I do recommend booking ahead to ensure you get a spot at the beginning of your holiday rather than the middle or end. Skiing is truly a lifetime love, and as with all loves, there is always something new to learn.
I will try a different school on my next visit, and shall update this area with my personal experience.
Where to Eat in Sölden (And What to Order):
Gampe Thaya // I adore this mountain hut’s devotion to local Austrian ingredients (most of them coming directly from the farm itself). I sat there for hours on this past trip, soaking up sunshine and views, coffee after coffee. Overhead countless time were tourists asking for “Coke” or “Pepsi” — the hilarious response from servers was always something along the lines of “no, but we have Elderflower juice.”
My favourite meal here? Breakfast. Reachable via a red slope or short hike, I always aimed to ski my way down before 10AM (when they switch to the lunch menu). A dreamy assortment of alpine honey, homemade Tirolean jams, lush butter, local cheeses and gloriously fresh bread — it’s no wonder why Gampe Thaya’s breakfast is undoubtedly my favourite in the world. Even the cappuccino is extra by all means, frothy with rich milk direct from the cows a few meters away. The lunch is equally spectacular, and should always end with Gampe Thaya’s bombastisch Kaiserschmarrn, served still sizzling in the skillet.
Tiroler Stube // This is a lovely spot to grab a quick bite in between lifts and slopes surrounding Gaislachkogl. I often pop in for a recovery Heiße Shokolade and fuel with the Semmelknödel Trio; a perfect, delicious source of Tirolean energy to continue a day of snowy adventures.
s’Pfandl // The family that owns this restaurant couldn’t be anymore kind, admirably hardworking or Tirolean in tradition. This spot is always superfluously full after the ski day (rumour is Klitchko prefers it when in town). The family always works hard to ensure each and every dish is true to Austrian quality. My go-to s’Pfandl order is a rather rich Austrian dish — Käsespätzle — which is essentially a far more superior version of macaroni and cheese. I even feel I’m insulting Käsespätzle by relating the two. Also a must: the Frittatensuppe.
Ice Q // For a spectacular view and exceptional dining experience, architectural glass wonder Ice Q is at the top of every Sölden visitor’s to-do list. Certainly a more modern menu for Tirolean standards, Ice Q is a culinary experience to be had. I usually opt for the Chef’s Table experience, which always guarantees a table alongside the iconic glass windows.
Das Central // I love staying in at Das Central for lunch and healthier options on a day where skiing conditions aren’t optimal. I adore the Winter Salad with extra avocado (I eat avocado in superfluous amounts on a regular basis, so finding a perfectly ripe supply in the Alps is a big deal to me). I adore the lounge area, where I often retreat for work and Kaiserschmarrn with homemade plum sauce worthy of praise.
Where to Experience Après Ski in Sölden
As I’m sure readers have gathered, I’m more a cosy, classic soul than a wild one who rages (despite my American heritage). I usually opt for a fireside spot at Grizzly Bar (Dorfstraße 70) for Après Ski drinks, or end the day at my favourite mountain hut, Gampe Thaya, before skiing back down into the valley — although, I never mix drinking and skiing at the same time.
For those who do love DJ parties and modern millennial alpine celebrations, Sölden is a perfect town to go a little crazy (and you won’t be alone). Try Marco’s or Hotel Liebe Sonne for the true experience.
Other Things to Do in Sölden (During Winter Season)
- Night Ski Show “Indian Girl” // This lovely experience occurs every Wednesday evening, prefaced by DJ dance time.
- 007 Elements // Bond fans (I’m speaking to you, British audience) will be delighted to learn that those snowy iconic scenes in Spectre were filmed right here in Sölden. The world-class cinematic installation will delight every fan alike. Daniel Craig not included, leider.
- Snowshoe Hiking & Winter Walking // For those devoted to walks, there is nothing more magical than an early morning trek through winter wonderland.
- Spa Time // Head to Das Central or Hotel Bergland for my favourite Sölden spa experiences (the latter boasts yoga courses). Those who want to make a whole spa day can also head to neighbouring village Längenfeld, which is home the Instagram-famous Aqua Dome.
- Night Tobogganing // Essentially sledding, but Austrian style. Perfect for a family night out on Wednesday.
- Electric Mountain Music Festival // If you love electric music and your ski holiday can wait until the end of March / early April, best include the iconic Electric Mountain Music Festival in your plans.
Stay tuned in the coming days as I share a classic guide to alpine fashion and packing list for your very own ski getaway (featuring Alps & Meters). Leave any alpine questions in the comment section below!