Thriving in the heart of the Tyrolean Alps, Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt stands as a haven of tranquility that’s truly stood the test of time. A beloved hotel over 400 years old, family-owned for 300 years, and until Covid, had not been closed a single day in over 250 years. Surrounded by Austria’s majestic mountains, this extraordinary sanctuary blends luxury with a deep commitment to sustainability. From the minute Stanglwirt’s dirndl-clad staff beckons us with welcome drinks, my heart rate slows and the kindred spirit in the air is palpable.
As legacy owners of Stanglwirt, Balthasar and Magdalena Hauser are farmers and hoteliers in equal measure—resulting in the most gracious expression of symbiosis in European hospitality. I meet Maria Hauser by the fireplace in the lobby; she is the elder daughter of the Hausers and mother of the Stanglwirt’s ray of sunshine “Leni” (born 2013). The luminous, lively blonde beams from within when reflecting on Stanglwirt’s storied history. “We lead with our hearts here, it is at the core of our family—warmth, grace, hospitality,” Hauser says as we sink into plush armchairs with a sparkling grüner veltliner. “My grandmother had this way of welcoming people; it became our signature that spread through word of mouth. Travelers were drawn from far and wide to feel it for themselves.”
Stanglwirt began in 1609 as a bar on the main road, frequented by copper miners. An ancestor of the Hauser family took over the tavern in 1722. When Balthasar Hauser III, then 17, inherited the seven-room inn from his mother in the early 1970s, not much had changed. Maria Hauser describes how his determination paid off in spades, “Not even 20 years old and without much capital, my father trusts his intuition and starts construction on the main building in 1968. No architect, no supplies—the timber from reclaimed wood from local farms.” His sheer grit pays off; Stanglwirt’s popularity soon knows no bounds. “Our staff culture is a big part of our success with repeat guests,” she reflects with pride. “Families feel at home and in turn, our staff learns what means the most to them, what special touches bring joy.”
Settling into the Kaiserbogen Luxury Suite for the night carries a sublime sense of magic—the crackling fireplace, soaring pitched ceiling, the delicious feel of sheepskin rugs underfoot. Handcrafted with traditional building methods, it features a large living room and bedroom with a Swiss stone pine king, and two large terraces with sweeping views of ‘Wilder Kaiser’ mountain. A spacious bathroom with a corner tub welcomes us after a day in the saddle or on skis. Even elevator interiors are crafted of wood, with a fold-down seat and corner cupboard carrying a bottle of schnapps and two small glasses. How wonderfully whimsical, and playfully hospitable as I’m discovering—in the signature Stanglwirt way.
The next morning, it’s bucket list time. A massive window overlooking an indoor riding arena showcases Stanglwirt’s gleaming white Lipizzaner horses, trotting elegantly in circles. While Bill Gates coveted the Codex Leicester to the Christie’s tune of US$30,802,500, the Hauser family puts a premium on their own Lipizzaner stud. Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria are the most rare and aristocratic breed of horses in the world. Their lineage can be traced back 2,000 years ago to Carthage and the bloodline includes Pyrenees, Arab and Andalusian strains. Astride a Lipizzaner for the first time, I can sense the power and agility; little wonder they were prized for centuries by cavalry commanders and European nobility alike. Channeling my inner Jessica Springsteen, I ride the magnificent stead between the Austrian flags for the ultimate equestrian photo op.
Indeed, sports enthusiasts find themselves in paradise with Stanglwirt’s top-notch tennis, golf, and ski offerings. Kitzbühel’s ski slopes—home of the “Hahnenkamm races”—are on the resort’s doorstep, and there’s nothing quite like chasing a hamstring-cranking day with a spa session at Stanglwirt. A veritable oasis of rejuvenation, submerge strained muscles in beautifully designed thalassotherapy pools, alternating between a collection of saunas varying in style and temperature. Offering a holistic approach to wellbeing, the spa’s menu draws from traditional Alpine therapies and modern wellness practices.
From traditional Austrian delicacies to international gourmet cuisine, Stanglwirt’s diverse menu caters to every palate. Our dining experience reaches the pinnacle at Gasthof Stangl, where time-honored recipes and modern gastronomic techniques harmoniously intertwine. Back in the day, Stanglwirt became famous as the inn with the cowshed window in the dining room. Nowhere else could guests watch dairy cows during an exquisite meal, and vice versa. When extending the dining room, a derelict storage room had to be demolished, and behind the hole in the wall were the cows. Instead of a problem, they saw creative opportunity. To this day, the cowshed window remains the hottest table in town.
Stanglwirt’s legendary “Gemütlichkeit” attracts the A-list from the realms of sport, entertainment, and business—whether flying in for the famed White Sausage Party, or to bucket list the Hahnenkamm. Famous guests include Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, Prince Albert of Monaco, the Aga Khan, Aristotle Onassis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Henry Ford II, Muhammad Ali, Jessica Alba, and the Swarovski family. Native son Arnold Schwarzenegger has had a standing reservation on his favored suite for years. Despite the carousel of famous faces, the vibe is decidedly relaxed and respectful of privacy. From its world-class spa to the exceptional sports facilities, Stanglwirt is an unparalleled retreat for those seeking harmony between indulgence and wellness.
Another family owned gem in nearby Salzburg serves up unforgettable stays; Das Edelweiss Mountain Resort impresses with its enviable location at Grossarltal mountain. The charismatic Peter and Karin Hettegger lead operations, while fourteen supporting Hettegers are actively involved in looking after guests. Après ski takes on new meaning with resident Sushi Master Alexis Savanx; regionality is key here—fish comes from Arler fish farm in Hüttschlag, Gillardeau oysters and caviar via Grüll in Grödig. Stylish luxury suites adorned in alpine tones and natural stone and wood create a warm atmosphere. After unknotting your hamstrings at Edelweiss Mountain Spa, tuck into flawless Black Angus at Sirloin Grill & Dine. One thing’s for certain, luxury in the Austrian Alps has reached new heights.