SHERATON SALZBURG (*****): We already can hear small voices bitterly whispering in the fog that going to the ever so romantic city of Salzburg to stay at the Sheraton is a monumental gaucherie. These critics must come from people who have never visited this particular outpost, far different from the "deluxe bunkers" the US hotel chain actually operates in some other cities. Indeed, the Sheraton Salzburg is a very warm, friendly, and pleasantly old-fashioned hotel, housed in a turn-of-the-century building, strategically located on the right bank of the river Salzach. It takes but five minutes to reach the Old City, by foot, across the extraordinary garden of the SchloB Mirabell. The Sheraton uses it as a park: nothing less! The Mozarteum and the Puppets Theater are a headturn behind the hotel; the railway station a scant 500 meters away. For a first visit to Mozart's homeland, this is definitely the ideal place to stay.
We enjoyed the "Deluxe Rooms": spacious, generously equipped with a combined fax machine and PC printer - they are a dream made true for regular corporate guests. Should you be a tourist, we most kindly advise you to make a reservation for a romantic room with a view on the park. There is a connecting corridor to the neighbouring SPA; but a fee is required to use it.
SCHLOSS MONCHSTEIN (****L): An oasis of silence, over a land of history and culture: such is the SCHLOSS MONCHSTEIN. Settled on the top of the Monchsberg hill, a green paradise easily accessed by the rocky paths winding sinuously up from the edge of the Old City, this superb castle well shaped by the end of the XIVth century and restored three hundred years later with the addition of a tower and chapel, became a deluxe hotel in 1947. Less famous than its proud rival, the Goldener Hirsch, the SCHLOSS MONCHSTEIN doesn't look the role of a challenger anyhow: its "raison d'être" is not social life, but superlative rest away from the crowds. Intimacy is a key to its success. Set with 17 rooms and suites, each different from the next, tastefully decorated with period furniture and precious items, this jewel of a hotel is definitely ritzy. Let's say, without any hesitation, that they are the most luxurious in town.
The service is discreet and distinguished, making the guests feel like they have a home away from home, should they be so fortunate as to have such a high echelon of staff in their own abode. We were very impressed by the Paris Lodron restaurant , and we most heartily agree with the "Gault and Millau" gourmet guide which ranked it as the best one in Salzburg. Very original is the tiny chapel, famous from the Monchsberg...to Tokyo: plenty of Japanese couples travel round the world to get married here, then to enjoy honeymoon in an incredibly romantic room with a view atop the Old City, the river Salzbach, the SchloB Mirabell and its garden " à la Française". Ex-votos have long since been replaced by shining copper plates engraved with the exotic names of the couples who sealed their love here : you see quite a lot!
Besides the Nippons, many stars have enjoyed the Schloss Monschtein, at least once in their life: think of Peter Ustinov, Claudio Abbado, Mickey Rooney or Lucciano Pavarotti, they have all walked the paths of Prince Architop Paris Lodron, and of Catherine of Russia who were, some centuries ago, its first distinguished guests. Open on a 25 hectares park befit for romance... and jogging, the hotel is also equipped with a tennis court. It is regularly and deservedly awarded and praised by the world media: named "Urban Sanctuary of the World" by "Hydeway Report Magazine". You will find it love at first sight.
GOLDENER HIRSCH (****L): There are two penultimate attractions along the Getreidegasse, the main historic and shopping street in the Old Salzburg: Mozart's birthplace, and the Goldener Hirsch. Since the beginnings of the XVth century, this baroque masterpiece has continued to cultivate the fine art of Austrian hospitality. From a modest guest house, the Goldener Hirsch turned into the most famous hotel in Salzburg. The idea of staying anywhere else during the period of festival is an untenable jest for those of high society. Snobism ? Maybe, somehow. Exploring the resources of this venerable city, it is now possible to find more luxurious (and cheaper!) accommodation. But nowhere else would we bask in the glamour the jet-society radiates. Who likes staying here? Come on: don't ask us to reprint the "Gotha" and the "Who's Who" overwhelming our files! From Herbert von Karajan to Arnold Schwartzenneger, all - we say ALL - the rich and famous delight in the place faithfully, quite often for a tuxedo and cocktail dress supper, in the most social restaurant to be found in all Austria. Getting a table is not at all easy, particularly during the period of festival; but obtaining a reservation in one of the 73 rooms and suites is vastly more than a challenge...Vaulted, decorated with period furniture, they are extremely "gemutlich" (which means at the same time fancy, romantic and distinguished). This top luxurious "gasthaus", the Goldener Hirsch, due to its liliputian size and enormous success, easily justifies its permanent selectivity.
OF SALZBURG AND CARINTHIAN MOUNTAINS:
ALMDORF "SEINERZEIT" (****L):Between Salzburg and Slovenia, boarding the "Nockerberge" (the most beautiful national park in Carinthia), and close to the SPA city of Bad Kleinkirchheim, this exceptional hotel opened in 1995. Though four stars deluxe, the Almdorf "Seinerzeit" actually doesn’t look like a palace. With three main buildings and 21 chalets, surrounding a small lake where one can fish for trout on Summer time, and ice skate on Winter, it looks like a traditional Carinthian hamlet: Almdorf "Seinerzeit" actually means "old alpine village". Very scrupulous care has been taken during its construction. The architects are nobody but the young owners: Isabelle and Karl Steiner. This Franco-Austrian couple invested both his heart and soul in the enterprise: using only 100% natural regional materials, and asking local people to build up the hamlet just like their ancestors would.
The result is splendid: the Almdorf "Seinerzeit" looks like much more an ethnological open-air museum than a hotel. The decoration inside the chalets seems a daydream: in a complete opposition to the standard setting in most of the hotels nowadays, the touch remains completely personal. Wood –and its exquisite essences- is everywhere: in accordance with that specific touch of rusticity Austrian people transforms in the greatest comfort. Dishes, lamps and carpets…even the most neglected piece of decoration gets its own story (and sometimes History!). Wood is used for heating the chalets…even when they are empty ! Mattresses are made out of natural latex and lamb wool. Space is not a problem here: each chalet is about 75 square meters, divided on two floors: there are two bedrooms, a vestibule with kitchen, a sitting room, and two bathrooms…including an old style one, with a tub made out of massive pine wood. There is also a very large terrace and even a private garden. If foreigners just start discovering the Almdorf "Seinerzeit", the place already received a multitude of awards from part of the German speaking medias: all of them emphasized, besides the very exceptional location, that anticipating service which pleases guests accustomed to stay in palaces-hotels. It is here completely family oriented: which is even better than in a grand-hotel. You stay in a somehow "super-deluxe Gasthaus", where everything is made a very personal way, and where the guests express their own satisfaction directly to their hosts: not under written form, on a questionnaire which would be directed on the desk of a pale marketing manager. We don’t want to play that stupid IN and OUT fashion game, but we would like to mention that the hotel is now a favourite spot for Austrian and German TV stars. Maybe are they looking for some comfortable simplicity here?
The Almdorf "Seinerzeit" neglects nothing, indeed, to make a stay even more pleasant. After skiing the all day down virgin runs, or after enjoying a Summer walk across the green paths, some relaxing herbal baths are offered to the guests: the medical herbs used on the purpose can only be find in this pollution-free area. No tourists to pick them up all around. You enjoy this privilege of being unique. These treatments are actually relaxing, and relieve cramps, rheumatism…and even gout. We heard the hay baths were particularly efficient on the matter. The SPA treatment room is so beautiful, with its wide goldsmith’s fireplace and its wooden tubs! There is also a sauna, of course: on request you can use it on your very own. The "Fellacher" restaurant, warm and rustic like the rest of the hotel, offers generous breakfasts, and proposes "a la carte" delicious and somehow confidential specialties from the segregated Carinthian mountains. You don’t have to feel uncomfortable if you are fitness oriented: those afraid of "Knodels" and "Strudels" accompanied by draft beer or "Sekt" will find their equilibrium in the special vegetarian menu.
The Almdorf "Seinerzeit" received recently the Dingh Trophy for Cultural Affairs Award (Taiwan), the National Tourism Award (Austria), the British Airways "Tourism for Tomorrow" Highly Commended Award 2000, and has been selected by the Congrès Mondial de la Jeune Chambre Economique de Cannes (France).
One can reach the hotel by train + taxi, from Salzburg: it makes the curious traveller discover a breathtaking alpine landscape. In you are actually on a hurry –but what a pity! - then take a domestic flight to Klagenfurt, then a regular bus to Patergassen.
Rate is much affordable,
180 - 368 per day, double occupancy, including breakfast, plus
tea/coffee and cakes! Sauna is complimentary for hotel