A quick Google of luxury hotels in the Austrian ski village of Lech brings up a flurry of options, with many boasting a perfect online review average of five stars.
We’re staying in Severin*s (it doesn’t countenance apostrophes) – The Alpine Retreat in Lech and it ‘only’ has an average, at the time of writing, of 4.3 out of 5.
This makes me wonder what exactly is going on at the other hotels. Do they offer unlimited Cristal Champagne, diamond-encrusted slippers and helicopter transfers to the top of the ski slopes?
Severin*s – The Alpine Retreat in Lech has a very stylish indoor swimming pool (pictured), with granite walls and submerged loungers at one end (bottom of the picture)
Severin*s sits on a quiet road in the north-east corner of Lech, away from the lifts. But guests are ferried for free to the village centre in luxury Mercedes SUVs
I ask because Severin*s, as far as I’m concerned is, more or less, perfect.
Ok, let’s knock off 0.5 because it’s not ski in, ski out – it sits on a quiet road in the north-east corner of the town (but then, you can be chauffeur-driven to the resort and back in luxury Mercedes SUVs, so have 0.25 back). But aside from that, it can do no wrong.
It ranks as not just one of the best places I’ve stayed in a ski resort, but as one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in anywhere.
The needle on the hotel-quality-o-meter is given an initial jolt by our knock-out bedroom – a ‘senior suite’.
Personally, I’d rename it. Heavenly snug lair of luxury suite, perhaps.
Rustic Alpine cosiness is blended masterfully with sleek modernity – beautiful wooden wardrobes, floors, walls and ceilings in harmony with a super-swish bathroom (but be warned, the toilet is in a see-through-glass cubicle – something some may find off-putting).
We drape ourselves over the huge sofa in the living room, snuggle on the gigantic round ‘love chair’, sleep like babies on the king-size bed and nod approvingly at the statement Italian lighting.
Ted and his family stay in a ‘Senior Suite’ (pictured), which is about as good a room as you’ll find anywhere in the Alps
The Senior Suite is seriously stylish and seriously luxurious. Pictured is the living room area and its gigantic sofa
The Senior Suite bathroom is a thing of beauty – though some may not feel comfortable with the see-through-glass-encased toilet
The tech is top, too. We have a TV opposite the bed, neatly hung in a recess, and another in the living room. Plus there’s a Bluetooth hi-fi (which we use principally to play nursery rhymes for our toddler through) and lighting controlled by an iPad (which clips neatly into a holder on the wall).
The interiors have been designed by Reinhard Strasser, who is clearly at the peak of his powers.
More commendations are earned by the indoor pool.
The hotel only has nine bedrooms (all suites), yet the 12.5-metre pool would do a hotel with 50 bedrooms proud.
I go just the once and have the place to myself. I feel like royalty.
And again, it’s a design triumph. Dimly lit – which I find rather arresting – and with rough-hewn granite walls and underwater loungers just below the surface at the shallow end, it’s stylish enough for a Vogue cover shoot.
The restaurant is where guests sample culinary masterpieces whipped up by head chef Kevin Szalai and his team
The Severn*s wine cellar is jam-packed with mountainous volumes of fine wine
Vogue would probably be tempted to put the food on the cover, too. It’s cooked with supreme skill and flair.
The hotel recently took on 25-year-old Kevin Szalai as head chef.
What a hire.
Though he doesn’t have a Michelin star, the food is at least one-star standard.
He takes ordinary dishes, and makes them extraordinary. Like Eggs Benedict at breakfast, which is cooked with smoke and contained within a jar that’s opened at the table. Mouth-watering – and the first hotel breakfast I’ve ever had that came with a bit of theatre.
And he doesn’t do salad, he does an exquisite Alice-In-Wonderland-esque work-of-art vegetable garden, beautifully arranged with tiny pieces of radish, carrot and pumpkin.
The Severin*s ‘vegetable garden’, arranged by somebody with a very steady hand
The standard of food at Severin*s never dips below excellent. Pictured right is the hotel’s smoky Eggs Benedict, which is served in a jar that’s opened at the table. And note – yes you can eat the flower
Pictured is the lounge, which is adjacent to the restaurant. A great place to unwind after a hard day at the moguls
(Unfortunately, though, he doesn’t do cheap. Even a starter will cost you your children’s inheritance.)
The service, meanwhile, is similarly spiffing. All the staff members are wonderfully helpful and great with our 18-month-old, who is introduced to all the chefs, given lots of hugs and generally made to feel like a superstar.
To top it all off, Lech just happens to be in one of the world’s greatest ski areas – Arlberg.
Over 300km (186 miles) of pistes link Lech, St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben and Zurs and the jaw-dropping landscapes they nestle in, which receive an average of 29ft of snow each winter.
And the taxi transfer from Innsbruck Airport… it’s worthy of a movie.
Sold? Thought so.
The Oxford Ski Company offers holidays at Severin*s from £1,340 for three nights, including flights. Ted snapped the image above on the stunning descent to Innsbruck Airport
Prices at Severin*s – The Alpine Retreat start from 690 euros per night (£605) in a Junior Suite, inclusive of welcome Champagne, breakfast and dinner daily, mini-bar, Wi-Fi, parking, luggage service, a heated ski cabinet, shuttle to ski lifts, turndown service and use of spa and fitness facilities.
The Residence starts from 3,990 euros (£3,500) per night (pre-season).
Rating: one star – poor; two stars – ok; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
The Oxford Ski Company offers holidays at Severin*s from £1,340 per person for three nights. This is based on two sharing a Junior Suite on a half-board basis and includes return private transfers and flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck. Visit www.oxfordski.com or call +44 1993 227 384.
Taxi Lecher. Email: email@example.com
Ski Lift Passes
Airport transfers, ski hire, lift passes and guides
Lech Zürs Tourism – www.lechzuers.com
Vorarlberg Tourism – www.vorarlberg.travel/en/