Sleigh bells and steam baths – a weekend at the Kempinski in Kitzbühel
Just like yours, my life gets crazy sometimes. Sometimes it’s all about 7am flights, 8 am shootings and deadlines deadlines deadlines. Mix in living off fast food for days, not sleeping for more than 4 hours a night and some nasty weather and you’ll be ready for a time out in no time.
The days leading up to my stay in Tyrol were just like that. In 3 days I had slept a total of 10 hours, I had a demanding job to do in another city and for those 72 hours the one thing that kept me smiling was the thought of the weekend which I was to spend in the snow – away from it all.
When my plane landed at Berlin Tegel airport I only had 45 minutes to transfer into the plane that would take me and my good friend Frank to Munich from where the Four Seasons Shuttle would pick us up at the gate and drive us into Kitzbühel. It all worked out swimmingly and before I knew it I was on my way into heavenly bliss.
It was 4pm when the shuttle dropped us off at the Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol in Jochberg, Austria. It had been their first day open after a 2 month off season break that was used to tweak and twerk bits and pieces and prepare the 5-star hotel for the most important season of the year.
Right away we were greeted by some lovely staff, found out we had been upgraded to a junior suite and that dinner at the Kempinski’s very own Asian-fusion restaurant Sra Bua had been scheduled for us later that evening.
I was only going to quickly drop my things in my room before wandering off to explore but when I spotted that inviting kingsize bed with the red velvet covers I could not resist and fall into it like into a field of clouds. No idea how long I lay there but it took a phone call to bring me back to life and an extra 5 minutes of nearly fainting as I marveled at the view on the mountains and snow-covered trees without even having to leave my bed.
The Kempinski in Tyrol has only been around for a 2 years, hence it is in perfect condition with a fantastic modern design elegantly married with traditional standards the Kempinski is known for. Blending those two worlds it makes it ideal for anyone who enjoys the rustic charms of many high-end Tyrolean accommodations but does not want to do without the elements of a design hotel. Personally I don’t mind traditional but I do love when things are modern and surprising in their design.
The lobby is huge and high as a church with gorgeous light coming in from windows on the top. There is a centerpiece fireplace and various comfortable sofas and armchairs grouped around it, inviting people to hang out for a while, reading a book or nibbling on one of the delicious homemade pastries that are being offered along with tea and coffee specialities.
One floor up there are lots more chill out areas, complete with a library and big bear fur and various antlers on the wall, endless walls filled with books, generous views, high ceilings – everything about the Kempinski makes you breathe slowly and deeply.
Are you getting a sense that the Kempinski Tyrol is an amazing place to relax? Well, wait until you hear the rest of the story, because the basement level features one of the largest spa areas I have ever come across. An incredible 3600m2 are waiting to cater to your every need – massages, peelings, facials, you name it. Get out those intoxicants in the lava sauna before dancing through the ice fog corridor and finishing off with an aroma shower. Take a swim in one of the 2 heated outdoor pools and enjoy the mountain panorama surrounding you, take a rest in a 4-senses lounger or do sweet nothing on one of the water-beds in the relaxation area.
3 days at the Kempinski Tirol will feel like a week, which makes it an ideal location for even just a long weekend, if you don’t have a whole week to spare. Room rates start at an affordable €220 a night for which you can expect all the amenities your tired bones will require during a luxury stay in Tyrol.
Where to eat in Kitzbühel
Let’s say you’re staying at the Kempinski and with this you have the most important chunk of your time in the snow covered. Apart from going snowboarding, skiing and spending hours soaking in the steam room, here are a few things you mustn’t miss:
You won’t even have to leave your hotel for this one as the Sra Bua is located on the first floor of the Kempinski itself. Star chef Wini Brugger puts his own Tyrolean twist on the finest Asian Cuisine and will have you dream about his succulent lamb chops on Edamame Puree for days after. My personal Highlight: the Wini Brugger’s tears desert which was so good, it almost made me cry.
An institution in Kitzbühel and definitely worth the hike up the mountain to the lovely traditional restaurant run by charming owner Rosi. Come here for the best Goulash in town and a giggle at the photo wall of pearl-white celebrities who’ve come to pay Rosi a visit. There are rooms for rent here as well.
Before we even laid hands on a menu we already had some homemade bread, 3 types of butter, grilled veggies and a small soup on the table in front of us, a generosity that continued between courses when always another delicious greeting from the kitchen was sent over. Topping it all off in the end were 3 delectable chocolates at the very end which I couldn’t fit any more but which made Frank and I very happy when we had them the next day on the train back home to Berlin.
Everything on the menu is world class but it’s worth ordering a couple of side dishes as portions can be on the small side.
What to do in Kitzbühel
Snowboarding & Skiing
This is a no brainer of course, you have come to a mekka when it comes to winter sports. Kempinski hotel guests have direct access to the ski lifts for the Kitzbühel pistes, equipment can be rented from the hotel as well.
The Kitzbühel Tourism board treats visitors to free daily guided snowshoeing tours through beautiful alpine landscapes. Simply turn up at 9.45am in front of the tourism board in Kitzbühel. If you don’t have your own set of snow shoes you can simply rent them at a small fee of €12. More info on free winter hikes here.
By the way – a very special version of this are the highly coveted full-moon hikes that only happen 4 times a year. If you happen to be in Kitzbühel during the 28.12., 28.01., 25.02. or 27.03.2013, make sure you sign up for one.
Going for a ride with the horse sleigh
I literally clapped my hands like an exited teenager when I read about this possibility. Wrapped into countless blankets we went on the romantic ride through snowed-in fields and forests on a gorgeous sleigh drawn by two adorable (and incredibly huge) Haflingers.
Where to end the day in Kitzbühel
My favorite option is the lovely bar at the Kempinski hotel which comes with an adjacent smoker`s salon where worldly gentlemen puff on their cigars in low lighting and comfortable armchairs. If you don’t smoke a seat at the bar will be just as great for enjoying a cocktail by a skilled bartender.
Fünferl is another great option, a pub in the center of town that is small and gets crowded fast – a great way of meeting people. Spitirts are rising high here when the alcohol is flowing and the pop tunes pump loudly.
Across the street from Fünferl is the Londoner, a laid-back pub that seems to draw a slightly younger crowd but is a good alternative if Fünferl is too packed.
Our time at the Kempinski Tirol and in Kitzbühel exceeded our wildest expectations and we can only warmly recommend this haven of relaxation and bliss to anyone wanting some stress relieve, great food, good drinks and plenty of snow. We, for one, will be back soon.