As the world starts to open up again, for many of us it’s time to explore our options and also how comfortable we are feeling about travelling. Far-flung destinations may well be taking a back seat for the rest of 2020 but we have our sights set on some closer-to-home destinations. Off-season Lech in Austria is just the reset we need, especially if we get to bed down at the stunning, family-run Post Lech.
In fact, my last international trip was to experience the tail end of ski season in Lech and, if that had been my last chance to travel abroad, I’d have done pretty well for myself. A scenic drive from Innsbruck airport will take you into glamorous ski territory, past picturesque wooden-clad chalets and children who have tamed the slopes more than I ever will. It’s a sight that many non-winter-sports types will have never experienced and that’s a real shame as this region has so much to offer those of us who don’t want to hurl ourselves down mountains.
When spring arrives, the blinding white of the slopes subsides and melts away to reveal the verdant rolling landscapes. Ski trails become hiking routes and you can take the ultimate comfort food Käsespätzle out on the patio to build up your energy to inhale all that fresh air. Summer in the Austrian alps will reaffirm your love of travel and with wide open space to explore and incredible service from hotels and restaurants alike, you can relax into the experience.
We stayed at the cosy-but-glorious Post Lech hotel, which re-opened for Summer 2020 at the end of June. Part of the Relais & Châteaux collection, the hotel is run by the Moosbrugger family and the familial atmosphere extends to the hotel staff and returning guests. While clearly an opulent place to stay, the decor and homely touches make you feel like a guest in a very lucky friend’s place. There may be exquisite locavore courses being served in the twinkling dining room by night but, come morning, the revisiting family’s dog will be snoozing under the breakfast table.
The low-key luxury is evident in the stunning rooms and suites. Each one is unique and exquisitely decorated. There’s no bland high-end interior design here. We are told that a local craftsman comes by one week every year to touch up all the hand-painted details across the rooms. Nothing is more charming than a five-star property that leans into the skills of its area.
Talking about skilled local people, the team that head up the spa are second to none. From an early morning swim in the outdoor heated pool, through to yoga classes and then a sauna, steam and indoor/outdoor relaxation spot, you could spend an entire day unwinding any tension before you’ve met the masters. But you’d be missing out. Working with luxuriously efficient products like the Swiss CellCosmet, the specialists will cocoon you in waterbaths that may induce sleep or serenade you with the most relaxing facial that I’ve ever experienced.
Outside the warm embrace of the Post Lech is a delightful town, just waiting to be discovered. Even without the ski, you can après in bars – from charming to rowdy. We enjoyed sampling neighbouring hotel, the Gotthard‘s, local beer, Omes – named after the nearby mountain – and Austrian wine at the quirky Kristiania Hotel. Then we should probably talk about Hotel Aurelio‘s sun filled terrace, modern art collection and mascot llamas.
Up the mountains, in addition to summertime hikes and views that will take your breath away, is the very special James Turrell SkySpace. Best visited at sunrise or sunset, the visual effect of this artwork is surreal and otherworldly and the surrounding landscape just as awe-inspiring. Lech is an unexpected off-season treat, we urge you to check it out for yourself.