There are at least 2 excellent reasons for this blogpost which has been a long time coming because this trip actually dates back a few months at this stage (6, to be precise). However, I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to tell you all about it because this place, called Bad Gastein, is really something else.

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One. This is still a real insider tip. If you love the mountains and appreciate a place that is connected to the real world yet easygoing and not overcrowded like many popular ski resorts can be, Bad Gastein will certainly make your heart swell.

I went there not at all knowing what to expect. I had never really heard of this small town, except for one time when an infamous party promoter from Berlin invited all of its regular night club goers to join them on a weeklong adventure to said place. I should have known right there and then that this spot was quite unlike any other ski resort towns anyone has ever been to…

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Two. The hotel we stayed at, called Haus Hirt will be loved by anyone staying here but it is especially awesome when you have kids. I know, because I have one and enjoyed every single one of the endless perks that Haus Hirt provides for little ones and their parents.

I get a lot of emails by moms and dads always asking me about good holidaying spots and this one is easily in my top 3 for best family hotels.

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Three?

Technically there is a third reason why this post has been burning under my fingernails. It was during this trip that I came to fully appreciate the beauty of visiting the mountains in the fall. When there is no snow and the sun is still warm enough to allow for wearing T-Shirts while sipping coffee on the terrace overlooking a stunning valley.

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The ideal family hotel

Haus Hirt has been around for generations (it dates back to 1924!), nothing here is left to coincidence and standards are high. Owners Evelyn and Ike are running the hotel like it is part of the family and every guest will noticeably feel the welcome vibes.

It was only 3 minutes into meeting Evelyn for the first time that my friend Dorothea and I were ushered into the spa, the hotel owner simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. I got a much needed massage and Doro got to relax in a soothing thermal bath while our boys were upstairs playing with a lovely grandma type babysitter, both of them had instantly taken to. I knew right there and then that this was not your average weekend hangout.

bad gastein austria-0476 Owner Evelyn and her son

bad gastein austria-0358 The hotel’s reception area

There are countless things that make this place a huge success with families, many of which keep coming back year after year. Here are some of them.

For the little ones

There are 3 different playrooms, one where the kids can draw, one where the slightly older kids can meet and hang out while playing or watching movies and another filled with toys where kindergarden-aged children will find their happy place. Play kitchens, trains, puzzles, cars, dolls, you name it, they have it.

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Each day there is a program on offer which will be appealing to most kids aged 4 and over. The kids here go to visit nearby farms, visiting animals or learning how to bake bread. There is always something fun and educational on offer which doubles as a wonderful way for kids to meet, connect and share an adventure without mom and dad. Here they make friends and the next thing that mom and dad notice is that their kids are having a ball while they get to kick back at the hotel’s spa for an hour or three.

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Each day at 6 there are special kids dinners where a kid-friendly meal is served for just the little ones. Parents can assist but don’t have to, as adult supervision is available. Our boys loved eating here.

Daytime childcare is free, kids receive special prices for just about anything and you can rent all the stuff you may need but did not want to have to carry with you, like cots and babyphones. If you fancy a night out a nanny can be arranged for you and even baby massage courses are available upon request!

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For parents

While I wouldn’t say that only families will have a great time staying here (in fact, we saw many happy couples coming here on their own!) there is something to be said about the perks moms and dads can enjoy while relaxing from the stress of having to balance work and life.

Nature here is at its best, the mountains are stunning and great in any season. We LOVED being here in November, before there was any snow. It was extra sunny and we had a wonderful time just being outside.

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With the the kids in bed at 7, after their dinner, we could turn on the babyphone and head to the hotel restaurant for OUR dinner. Haus Hirt doesn’t offer an A la carte menu, however dishes up a 4-course meal every evening with guest’s choice of meat, fish or vegetarian. This is part of the half board most people book because it’s a pretty amazing deal.

Accommodation

The only one thing that had me more exited than the fact that there was free quality childcare was our stunning accommodation. We were put up in one of the gorgeous Alpenlofts, the most recent addition to Haus Hirt’s offer. And boy, are they a dream!

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Evelyn’s husband Ike is an architect and has recently designed these stunning lofts as the perfect counterpart to the traditional charms of the main hotel. People can rent out the entire two-floor loft or just one floor, depending on their need. It’s like staying in your own little design hotel!

The walk down to the main building, where the restaurant, lobby and spa awaits is no more than 3 minutes. The combination of staying in an independant unit yet having all the perks of a hotel makes the Alpenloft perfect for families, in my opinion. No noise, no maid knocking on the door at 9am, just you and your cozy, stylish hangout.

Turn on the fire place, open up a bottle of wine and put up those feet. Aahhhhh…

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Choose this place if you’re after a beautiful and quiet little town in the mountains, without the tourist masses but with some lovely design, a great program for kids and an ideal setting to have a relaxing and enjoyable trip. The best part: you get to brag that you were one of the first to discover it!