Lech am Arlberg is one of Austria’s most exclusive, and popular, alpine winter sports destinations; yet summer is the season to savour it’s authentic character; hike uncrowded valleys, and picnic amongst wildflower meadows
In an Alpine village chock-full of formal hotels and über exclusive private chalets, it was a real luxury to feel so at home at the family-run Hotel Gotthard. This stylish hotel is spread over two shingle-clad chalet-style buildings, with gardens, a wellness area, an onsite bakery, restaurants and a café. Accommodation is in generously-sized rooms, many with balconies.
The property has been in Clemens Walch’s family for generations, and together with his wife Nicole, originally from Australia, the couple offer genuine, friendly hospitality at this 4 star superior hotel. Founded by Filomena Walch, Clemens’ entrepreneurial grandmother in 1931 as a bakery with guest rooms, a stay in this now luxury hotel is like being welcomed into the extended family.
Nicole has co-written a fascinating book, full of vintage photos, about the family and its history in Lech; a copy of which is in each guest room.
Following in the family tradition, Clemens is also an accomplished Master Baker. The family bakery is below the hotel, so expect fabulous breakfasts (served until midday!) and also the best bakery shop in the village, ‘Backstude Café Lech’ located within the hotel. The multi-lingual team offer unpretentious service, from booking activities to arranging dining.
Accommodation is B&B or half-board. There are special offers for summer and also special 3 night mid-week rates until the autumn.
Blumen Haus Lech
This summer the finishing touches are still being added this Alpine retreat; a new boutique property of 9 super-upscale suites that is scheduled to open for the 2016/2017 winter season.
Hotel Almhof Schneider
At the foot of the Schlegelkopf Mountain, and overlooking the village’s main street and the slopes, this 5 star hotel was a favourite of Princess Diana.
Hüs Nr. 8
House Number 8 is just that – the 8th house to have been built in the village of Lech. So expect wonderful historic alpine architecture. This was the family home where Clemens was born, and is now an acclaimed restaurant and lively bar run by his cousin Christian Walch. Low ceilings and honey-coloured timber walls give each space a cosy feel. Enjoy here hearty Austrian country cuisine like ‘Gröstl’ (delicious potatoes with black pudding served in a large iron pan), or ‘Käsespätzle’ (soft egg noodles served with cheese and fried onions – like a very tasty version of Mac ‘n’ Cheese).
The bar is a friendly and lively place to share a late night drink.
Lecher Stube Restaurant
Found within the Gotthard Hotel, this stylish alpine restaurant, run by husband and wife team Werner & Sara Müllner, offers the chance to enjoy classic Austrian dishes like ‘Wiener Schnitzel’, as well as contemporary-style plates such as vegetarian risotto. Many ingredients are sourced locally from the waters and forests of the Vorarlberg region.
For the freshest mountain trout and salmon then this is the place to visit. A quaint log cabin beside fresh water fish lakes in Zug is home to this intimate restaurant offering a varied menu based predominantly on local fish. Owner Andy Mittermayer and his team make you feel welcome and will help you with the menu. For a starter, try the pancake soup, a beef broth with sliced pancake on top, a local favourite. Remember to order schnapps too – here the small glasses of Austria’s favourite after-dinner digestive are served in a little ‘schnapps tree’, a charming wooden holder, placed on the table; Prost!
Baristro Café Bar
Trendy coffee shop and bar on the village square by the cable car. Order the hot chocolate – it’s so good! Search ‘Baristro Lech’ on Facebook
This small timber chalet offers some of the best pizzas in town – great reputation and sociable atmosphere thanks to years of popular après-ski hospitality.
In summer, visitors enjoy late afternoon drinks in the valley – the alfresco terraces of Hotel Tannbergerhof or Hotel Krone offer the chance to enjoy the last warm rays of the day’s sun.
Golf Club Lech
New for 2016; this is the highest golf course in Austria. Clemens Walch is co-Founder and the President of the 9 hole Lech Golf Club and as such his Hotel Gotthard offers special golf packages for summer guests together with a comprehensive Golf Butler Service. Very close to the hotel is also a 3-hole Golf Academy with driving range, putting green and practice bunker which Gotthard Hotel guests can use for free. The hotel also partners with golf pro Michael Coventon, PGA AA, and his colleague Heiner Neubaur at Iconic Golf, who operate the Golf Academy and offer tuition.
Summer in Lech is like an eternal spring; wild flowers including abundant orchids cover the hillsides. The winter sports ‘White Ring’ of ski pistes is transformed into a verdant ‘Green Ring’ of interconnected alpine hiking routes. Bjorn is the Hotel Gotthard’s professional mountain guide who is available to take guests on stunning walks.
During the summer the ski and snowboard rental stores of Lech become mountain bike rental and hiking stores. ‘Strolz on Rüfiplatz’ is a chic store offering one of the best selections of mountain bike gear.
During the summer evenings, there are often musical and cultural events in the village. During the first week of August the modern ‘New Church/Neuen Kirche’ auditorium hosts the Lech Classical Music Festival. Then there is the Jazz Bühne festival; and events continue into the autumn. Details on the local tourism website.
Enjoy an authentic Austrian sauna or a relaxing swim at the wellness centre at the Hotel Gotthard. Outside is a beautiful alpine garden for sunbathing.
‘Strolz Sport & Mode’ is Lech’s flagship retail experience – a classic luxury department store with plenty of old-school Austrian charm. It’s also where you can pick up tailored dirndls and Lederhosen!