Maria Boyle has a stay in the captivating winter retreat of Lech
LECH is discreet and charming Austrian village that has marked itself out as one of the best ski resorts in Europe.
Lech, in the Austrian Alps, is like being in a real-life snow globe — you’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains, pristine slopes, charming wooden chalets, and horse drawn carriages.
Renowned for hosting British and European royalty, Lech could have easily turned in to one of Europe’s blingiest ski resorts, but it has managed to retain its authentic charm, mainly due to the high percentage of family-owned establishments, with second and third generations of the same family now running many of its hotels, restaurants, and bars.
Where to stay
For our four-night stay, we booked into Hotel Post Lech Alberg in the heart of the village. Family-owned for more than 80 years, it was the first hotel to establish itself in Lech and was also the first hotel in Austria to be invited to be part of Relais & Châteaux some 40 years ago.
Originally the village’s post office and convenience store, it was transformed into a luxury hotel by the Moosbrugger family. They have meticulously preserved its original Alpine features while adding contemporary touches to its 46 rooms and suites — all tastefully decorated, with picture-perfect views of the surrounding mountains and village.
Communal areas, a bar, four restaurants, and inviting lounges with roaring fires, provide perfect spaces to relax. The hotel’s spa — featuring brands such as Guerlain and Cellcosmet - has four treatment rooms with therapists on hand ready to provide guests with a range of rejuvenating treatments (the one-hour massage post first day on the slopes was bliss). Other facilities include a Swedish sauna, steam bath, indoor and outdoor heated pools with relaxation areas and a gym. There’s also a kids’ pool with water slide, baby pool and kids’ club.
Executive chef Michael Rieser serves a mix of traditional Austrian dishes and innovative international creations. One night we dined in the modern restaurant, Postblick, with its panoramic views of the mountains and ski slopes. Another night we opted for the gourmet menu in the more traditionally decorated Jägerstube restaurant. It was the culinary highlight of our stay with dishes including veal, lobster, Wagyu beef and snails.
The hotel's impressive wine cellar boasts more than 14,000 bottles — our favourite was a Gruner Veltliner from Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg vineyard which is made by the hotel owner’s elder brother.
Lech's prime location and altitude of 1,450m with slopes summiting at 2,450m, ensures snow is guaranteed. In fact, each year, the resort receives up to twice as much snow as some of its French rivals. With 300km of ski slopes, Lech's ski area is the fifth largest globally, connected by 85 lifts and cable cars. No skier will ever be bored of the same slopes in Lech.
To hire ski gear, we visited the family-run winter sport shop and ski boutique Strolz https://www.strolz.at/en located in the centre of the village. Spread over three floors, the shop (which smells like a spa) is quite unlike any other ski hire shop we have used before. It even has a chandelier hanging from its ceiling and running central to its sweeping glass staircase over three floors. Its team provided a concierge-level service, ensuring we were equipped in record time. Other resorts take note!
To introduce us to the ski area, we hired local ski guide Christoph Freudenthaler (www.skischule-lech.com) for our first day. He chatted about the history of the region, its famous visitors, stopping to spot the local wildlife as he guided us around the mountains. We whizzed down fabulous pistes and some magical ski routes which we would not have dared to explore by ourselves. It was a brilliant experience and worth doing if new to the area.
Given the clientele Lech attracts, enriching the ski slopes with art makes sense. On our first day Christoph pointed out a man standing looking out on to the mountains. Skiing closer, we discovered it was one of 100 life-size cast-iron versions of sculptor Antony Gormley, part of his Horizon Field installation. This took the artist five years to pull off and a team of helicopters, 15 mountain rescue teams and the Austrian army to precisely position each one at 2,039 m above sea level.
Another day, we checked out Skyspace Lech an installation by American artist James Turrell. Located at 1,780m, the domed building has been designed to blend into the snowscape landscape. Its main oval room, created to be a place of contemplative thought, is accessible via a 15m long tunnel and gives visitors who arrive on foot or on skis an opportunity to take a seat and view the sky through an aperture in the ceiling.
For those seeking a magical skiing experience – a place where you can enjoy being on the slopes and experience the true camaraderie of the skiing community – Lech is hard to beat. Off the slopes, its family-run businesses clearly work hard to ensure each of its visitors experience authentic Austrian hospitality at its very best. We certainly found it during our visit and especially at Hotel Post Lech.
- Post Lech Arlberg hotel https://www.postlech.com/en/stay/offers/midweek-package
- Ski hire and equipment book at Strolz https://www.strolz.at/en
- Lech Tourism www.lechzuers.com
* Skyspace https://www.skyspace-lech.com/?lang=en,
- How to get there: BA Euroflyer from London Gatwick to Innsbruck from £142 return per person, based on travel in February 2024 and includes x1 checked bag ba.com/Innsbruck