Luxxing It Up in Lech Austria

Maria Boyle explores Lech in Austria, Europe’s most captivating winter retreat.

Europe, Gastronomy, Luxury Travel, Outdoors

Maria Boyle explores Lech in Austria, Europe’s most captivating winter retreat.

Over the last 15 years, my family and I have been lucky enough to visit many of Europe’s top ski resorts — from the most traditional to all out flashy. While many boast breath-taking Alpine views, five-star dining and guaranteed après ski fun, one discreet and charming Austrian village has marked itself out as the best — Lech — and we wanted to find out why.

Taking the Train to Lech

After arriving at Innsbruck airport, we jumped on the train to St Anton (a scenic one-hour journey costing €16 per person each way) and then transferred by car transfer to the village of Lech, located in the western Austrian Alps.

Arriving in Lech felt like stepping into a magical winter wonderland. Every direction we looked in, we were offered picture-perfect views: snow-capped mountains, pristine slopes, snow-covered pine trees, not to mention the traditional wooden chalets with ornate facades. Horse-drawn carriages stood ready, waiting to whisk people on and off the slopes or take them on a tour to admire the scenery. It was like being in a real-life snow globe and we were loving it.

Frequented by the late Princess Diana and her boys, Lech is a playground for European royalty and global jet setters, even though the village has stayed true to its roots and not succumbed to big brand name hotels taking over. Its genuine charm stems from the fact that most establishments are family-run, with second and third generations now in charge, all keen to preserve its unique identity.

Everything in Lech is first class, both on and off the slopes, so it is no surprise that it has a reputation as the destination for those seeking a refined escape. It’s also the most civilised ski resort as drivers graciously stopping in the road to let pedestrians cross, exchanging smiles and waves in the process. This culture of civility also extends to the slopes. Not once did we get ‘cut up’ by bombing snowboarders or wiped out by reckless skiers, this was particularly reassuring for the safety conscious.

Where to Stay in Lech

Hotel Post, Lech am Arlberg (Austria)
Hotel Post, Lech Arlberg (Austria)

We booked into Hotel Gasthof Post Lech Arlberg, an exclusive five-star property located in the heart of the village. Family-owned for more than 80 years, it was the first hotel to establish itself in Lech and was also the first hotel in Austria to be invited to be part of Relais & Châteaux some 40 years ago.

Originally the village’s Post Office and convenience store, it was transformed into a luxury hotel by the Moosbrugger family. They have meticulously preserved its original Alpine features while adding contemporary touches to its 46 spacious rooms and suites. These are all extremely spacious, tastefully decorated, and boast panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and village.

The hotel has lots of communal areas to enjoy including a well-stocked bar, four restaurants and cosy lounges with roaring fires. It has an equally stunning spa (brands include Alpienne, Cellcosmet, Chanel, Guerlain) with four treatment rooms, therapists on hand ready to provide guests with a a range of rejuvenating treatments (the one-hour massage post first day on the slopes was bliss). Other facilities included a Swedish sauna, steam bath, indoor and outdoor heated pools with relaxation areas and a gym. For families with children, it also has a kids’ pool with water slide, baby pool and kids’ club in the hotel.

Distinguished guests to the hotel include the Dutch royal family – who make their annual ski pilgrimage every February – and actress Renée Zellweger who stayed while filming Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason.

Wining and Dining at Hotel Gasthof Post Lech Arlberg
Excellent healthy cuisine at Hotel Gasthof Post, Lech, Vorarlberg
Excellent healthy cuisine at Hotel Gasthof Post Lech Arlberg

During our stay at the hotel, executive chef Michael Rieser charmed with a series of incredible dinners. One night we dined in its newest and most modern restaurant, Postblick, with its panoramic views of the mountains and ski slopes. He presented a culinary journey through the flavours of the Alps including everything from a selection of hearty traditional Austrian dishes to innovative and creative international dishes, every meal was Michelin standard.

Another night we opted for the Gourmet menu (extra supplement to half board) which was served in the more traditionally decorated Jägerstube restaurant – this has been awarded 15/20 points and three chefs’ hats by Gault et Millau. It was the culinary highlight of our stay with dishes including veal, lobster, Wagyu beef and snails.

To complement its outstanding gastronomy, the hotel has an impressive wine cellar with some 14,000 bottles. Head sommelier Miroslav Kalinic expertly and entertainingly guided us each night on recommended wines (our favourite was a Gruner Veltliner from Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg vineyard which is made by the hotel owner’s elder brother).

Evie and Maria SkySpace Lech entrance
Evie and Maria SkySpace Lech entrance

The hotel’s Emostube restaurant, named after the artist Emo Henrich, is more traditional in its décor, and invites guests to enjoy Austrian dishes with the highlight being its fondue chinoise.

The hotel has 70 per cent repeat guests and you can see why – a luxurious spot, right next to the cable car, in the heart of the village, offering the most incredible food, wines, a wonderful spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, matched with exceptional hospitality and first-class service.

Winter sports are very much part of local people’s lives. When chatting to the hotel owner, Florian Moosbrugger, he told me that Kristl Moosbrugger, his 81-year-old mother, had just come off the slopes and proudly stated that she skies 100 days each year.

While skiing is undoubtedly the highlight, Lech offers a variety of winter activities for non-skiers as well including hiking, ice-skating and sledding. The hotel can help arrange guides.

Ski Concierge

To get ski ready, we visited the family-run winter sport shop and ski boutique Strolz. Unbeknown to us, this is also the most glamorous place to get kitted out. Spread over three floors, the shop (which smells like a spa) is beautifully laid out and quite unlike any other ski hire shop we have used before. It even has a chandelier hanging from its ceiling and running central to its sweeping glass staircase over three floors. Its capable team equipped us out in record time with a concierge level of service. Impressive.

Snow Guaranteed

Lech sits at an altitude of 1,450m, with its slopes summiting at 2,450m. The Arlberg area is one of the first of a group of higher mountains in the northern Alps and gets regularly heavy snowfalls, with snow guaranteed from late November to the end of April. Each year, the resort receives up to twice as much snow as some of its French rivals.

The ski area is vast – 300km of ski slopes as well as plenty of off-piste and even a ski heli pad for the serious adrenalin seekers. The region is connected by 85 lifts and cable cars, making it the fifth-largest ski area in the world. To get our bearings, we hired local ski guide Christoph Freudenthaler who introduced us to the ski area. He chatted about the history of the region, the importance of local nature and wildlife as he guided us around the mountains. We whizzed down some fabulous pistes and some magical ski routes which we would not have dared to explore by ourselves. It was a brilliant experience and worth doing if new to the area.

The Art of Skiing
Daisy Maria and Evie SkySpace Lech
Daisy Maria and Evie SkySpace Lech

Given the clientele Lech attracts, enriching the ski slopes with art makes sense. While skiing, we saw Antony Gormley’s Horizon Field, an installation of 100 life-size cast-iron versions of Gormley. This took the artist five years to pull off and a team of helicopters, 15 mountain rescue teams and even the Austrian army to precisely position each one at 2,039m above sea level.

Another day, we checked out Skyspace Lech, an installation by American artist James Turrell, located at 1,780m. This can be visited just as easily on foot as well as on skis. The domed building has been designed to blend into the snowscape landscape. Its main oval room, created to be a place of contemplative thought, is accessible via a 15-metre long tunnel and gives visitors an opportunity to take a seat and view the sky through an aperture in the ceiling.

Lech is a haven for those seeking a magical, safe and considerate skiing experience – a place where you can enjoy being on the slopes knowing that fellow winter sport lovers are courteous and respectful, and experience the true camaraderie of the skiing community. Off the slopes, it’s a place to enjoy relaxed and authentic Austrian hospitality at its very best at Hotel Post Lech.

Post Lech Arlberg hotel

Midweek packages available including three nights with half board, ski pass and massage)

Lech Tourism

For further information on what to do in Lech, visit:

Ski Hire and Equipment

Book at Strolz

How to Get to Lech

BA Euroflyer from London Gatwick to Innsbruck from £142 return per person (including taxes, fees and carrier charges), based on travel in February 2024 and includes x1 checked bag com/Innsbruck

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Maria on the beach

Maria Boyle

Maria Boyle is a luxury travel writer and also runs her own PR business, advising luxury brands. Her passion for travel started in her teens and has taken her around the world many times. Top destinations include Australia, Costa Rica, South Africa, the Greek islands and Italy. A lover of skiing, spas and gastronomic experiences, Maria also enjoys going off the beaten track. She lives in London with her husband, three daughters and dog Bertie.

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