Come over all James Bond with a trip to Hochsolden, a relaxed, ski-in, ski-out hamlet high above the hubbub of Solden in the Austrian Alps. I stayed at Crystal Ski’s Hotel Hochsolden and headed out to hit the pistes.
If your idea of a sweet ski trip involves a lot of great snow, a lot of time to chill and a lot of hearty food, this little resort has your name on it. Drive through the busy and buzzy town of Solden and the road winds up through snow-clad pines to Hochsolden (literally high Solden), an intimate resort perched at 2,090m on the edge of some of the area’s 145km of pristine pistes. Hochsolden is so high up that great snow is guaranteed, even when the rest of the Alps is waiting around praying for the white stuff.
We stayed in Crystal’s Hotel Hochsolden, a relaxed take on traditional Austrian hospitality with simple, comfy rooms, an airy terrace looking over the pistes and a seriously good restaurant, specialising in hearty Austrian grub. The hotel also boasts a gorgeous pool and bubbling outdoor hot tub, perfect for resting tired ski legs. Hochsolden is not for party animals – it’s all about peace and quiet. But you can always ski or bus down to Solden for your apres-ski fix, and then retreat to your lofty eyrie for a swim and a good sleep.
You can’t get more ski in, ski out than having a piste on your doorstep, and Solden’s ski area is something special. Wide open pistes are groomed to corduroy perfection while narrower, challenging runs snake all the way from the peaks to the valley. High up, the snow-sure glacier gives incredible views all the way to the villages of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl. Further down the mountain the glacial landscape gives way to beautiful tree-lined runs and the smell of woodsmoke from little fires crackling in mountain huts.
Solden is better suited to intermediate skiers, as there are some trickier narrow runs, but the lovely instructors and guides of Yellow Power are on hand if you’re feeling a bit rusty. If you’ve skied hard all morning, stop at one of the cosy, traditional wooden huts serving my dream Austrian menu (potatoes, pancakes, coffee and red wine). My favourite was Hühnersteign, famous for its chicken dishes, and which also serves the odd but rather tasty Austrian concoction of half cola, half beer.
The best view in Austria waits at the top of the Gaislachkogl cable car, next to the awe-inspiring Ice Q. You may recognise this slick glass box from Spectre, the latest James Bond installment. On film, it’s the futuristic hospital where Lea Seydoux’s character works – in reality it’s a no-less swish restaurant. Even if you’re not splashing the cash, pop in for a coffee and a tiramisu. Then climb the steps to the viewing platform for panoramic vistas out over the myriad glittering peaks of the Ötztal Alps.