HOLIDAY like James Bond? Why yes – as long as I am not required to put myself in danger or kill anyone!
Our destination was Sölden, located in Austria’s Tyrolean Alps, and the mountainous location that featured in 2015’s Spectre.
Accommodation for our four-night stay was the family-owned Das Central hotel, and yes, right in the centre of Sölden.
As soon as we entered the five star property, we instantly felt the Bond vibes as we checked in with lots of luxurious cues: roaring fires, a stylish curved bar area, perfect for a Vesper martini – shaken not stirred of course – a well-stocked wine cellar, gym, spa and a choice of restaurants.
We happily settled in to our two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite – this was contemporarily designed, extremely comfortable and had panoramic views of the snowy mountains and even featured a private sauna on our balcony.
With time on our hands before dinner, we had the choice to visit the hotel’s gym, participate in one of its daily classes such as Stretch & Relax, or head to the hotel’s impressive three-storey 1,500 square metre wellness area.
Neither of us needed persuading and we robed up ready to explore the spa’s vast space which included relaxation rooms, a large indoor pool, ten different types of steam rooms and saunas including Finnish, Infrared and Hot Stone as well as 16 treatment rooms. Bliss.
The hotel continued to impress throughout our stay with its excellent food and drink. Its Feinspitz restaurant is where we had breakfast, serving a selection of fresh egg dishes cooked to order, mueslis, fresh breads, yoghurts made locally, a tea bar with more than 20 different teas and fresh juices.
Hands down, the choice and quality of foods and drinks was the best we have experienced in any ski hotel.
The highlight of our stay was a gourmet dinner in the hotel’s Ötzaler Stube restaurant created by head chef Michael Kofler.
This is located in an atmospheric 50-year-old Swiss private dining area and is the only restaurant in Sölden that boasts three toques by Gault & Millau.
We opted for the six-course menu featuring local Danube salmon and Wagyu bavette followed by mouth-watering desserts and local cheeses.
Licence to ski….
After a few missed years on the slopes due to Covid, we decided to hire a guide for our first day on the slopes to show us around the ski area.
The hotel recommended www.skischule-soelden.com, the biggest and oldest ski school in the area, and Eddie, an English-born ski guide, really helped us get our ski mojo back.
As we whizzed around the mountain, he showed us where Spectre was filmed and guided us down some great runs.
We topped off our first day with a delicious late lunch at the new Falcon restaurant which can be found at the middle of Gaislachkogl gondola. It was the perfect first day back on our skis.
Day two and three we skied all day and explored the three glaciers in the valley with the added bonus of fresh snow.
On our final day, after four hours of non-stop skiing and feeling invincible, like Bond himself, we decided to pay a visit to the world’s first and permanent James Bond cinematic installation on the summit of the Gaislachkogl mountain 3,048 metres high, reachable by cable car. (Adult tickets from €22, children from €12).
007 Elements’ experience has been cinematically designed so it is as engaging as any Bond film and appeals to all ages, skiers and non-skiers alike.
While it mainly focuses on Spectre, due to the location, other Bond films are also featured.
We were led in to nine high tech ‘galleries’, each dedicated to an aspect of filmmaking that define a James Bond film, and also gadgets and technology.
Our favourite part was seeing all the behind-the-scenes filming linked to Spectre and being in the actual location it was filmed in as well as the aircraft, which featured in the thrilling glacier chase.
To finish our Bond experience we visited Ice Q, Austria’s highest located toque-rated gourmet restaurant that is directly next to 007 Elements. The spectacular building teeters over the Öztal Alps.
With a 900 m² glass facade providing panoramic views of the snowy mountains, it is instantly recognisable if you have watched Spectre: it’s the home of the futuristic Hoffler Klinik, where Bond first meets Dr Madeleine Swann.
Diners can choose between different menus and dishes created by its genius head chef Klaus Holzer.
Ingredients are locally sourced and each course was beautifully presented.
At the end of our meal, we agreed that the lunch was probably the best we have ever experienced in any ski resort in Europe.
Sold on Sölden
Due to its high altitude, and the fact that most of the skiing is done above 2,000 metres, Sölden is pretty much snow guaranteed from November until May.
It is also Austria’s only ski area to have three peaks above 3,000 metres accessible by mountain gondola and boasts the country’s longest ski slope which runs for nine miles.
While I have been fortunate to ski in a number of ski resorts over the years, Sölden is easily the most impressive.
Exemplifying Austrian efficiency at every touch point, the ski domain with its 31 lifts runs like clockwork, especially as it has two of the most powerful lifts in the world operating at ski stations Giggijoch and Gaislachkogl which means waiting times are literally unknown.
Music to any skiers’ ears, especially at peak times, and one that James Bond would surely approve of.
For tourist information click here
For Ski hire click here
BA and Easyjet fly London to Innsbruck, prices vary pending time of travel.