As a travel writer, I rarely have the luxury of time to relax in an hotel or destination - there's generally just enough time to get the essence of the place but not enough to actually chill out (fair enough, it is work). As a result, I have to make the most of the precious time I have in each spot and that is certainly what I have done over the past 30 hours.
Together with five other journalists, I flew out of the London City Jet Centre onboard a snazzy Lear jet yesterday morning, arriving in Innsbruck after a spectacularly scenic flight shortly before noon. Three dapper butlers whisked our bags from us, bundled us into Range Rovers and drove us to Oberlech, an exclusive enclave above the charming resort of Lech in the Arlberg ski area, and delivered us to Chalet N . Owned by a 35 year-old self-made Austrian millionare, this remarkable property opened on Christmas Eve and set a new benchmark for the increasingly opulent and extravagant Alpine chalet industry - the ski-in/ski-out, five-storey timber and stone building encompasses a whopping 5,000 square metres of sheer, unadulterated luxury. There are ten suites (including a 180 square metre master suite), two dining rooms, a large sitting room with full-size bar, the most impressive spa and wellness area of any chalet (and virtually any hotel) I've set foot in, a home cinema, stupendous wine cellar, outdoor ice bar... (I could go on)
Adding Luxury to Skiing in Austria
Yes, there are elements of bling (a shower encased by a curtain of Swarovski crystals, titanium cutlery, enough fur throws to keep an entire Eskimo village warm) but the overall effect is understated and uncommonly homely. As the chalet's Big Cheese, consummate hotelier Stefan Huemer, told me over melt-in-the-mouth wagyu beef during our eight-course dinner: "We don't want our guests to feel they're downgrading from their own home but neither should they feel they're in an hotel." (I chose not to point out that the master suite's sitting room is larger than my entire London flat, making this anything but a downgrade for me.) Thus, in addition to a "maxibar" in each suite (there is nothing mini about this place) and full-size his & hers Hermes toiletries, each guest at Chalet N receives a monogrammed pillow case (pictured here with my small bovine travelling companion), which is packed away when you leave to await your next visit. Nice touch eh?
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For more information on Chalet N contact the chalet team on +44 1993 899 420 or make an enquiry.
Gabriella Le Breton is a leading travel writer who regaulry features in The Telegraph, The Financial Times, Tatler and Condenast Traveller.