A lunch in the Hospiz Alm
The Arlberg Hospiz is the oldest hotel in the Arlberg skiing region, and one of the oldest in the Alps, having been developed from an Inn sheltering weary travellers in the 1300’s. Today, it runs as an exclusive 5* with a reputation for fantastic service.
Thankfully, there is a way to experience some of the heritage and service synonymous with the Hospiz without staying in the hotel. The ski-in ski-out restaurant, the Hospiz Alm, is owned and run by the hotel, and offers a fantastic stop for lunch (without necessarily the 5* prices).
The Alm has a very inviting sun terrace looking over the piste, but if you can part yourself from the sunshine, or the weather is closing in, the inside of the traditional looking ‘hut’ is truly special. A roaring fire greets you right in the centre of the restaurant, along with vast rugs on the stone floors. There are many tables around the open fire, hidden in nooks and also upstairs where you can look over the diners below. I found a real secret spot in the restaurant around the back of the bar – a tiny enclosed seating area large enough for 6. It seemed especially for guests who may prefer to keep their dining experience more private, as if you chose, it had a wooden door you could close, allowing serving only through a small hatch, along with a pulley system which rang a bell in the bar. With previous visitors to the Hospiz Alm including Prince Charles & Lady Diana and Boris Becker, perhaps this may have been where they sat to keep them from sight of the cameras. I didn’t have the same problem, and so opted to keep the hatch open.
From this table, once you have called out your order to the eccentric and entertaining barman, you will actually be served your drinks, and later food via a kind of pizza peel…
The food menu is fairly simple, good mountain food including Austrian classics such as Wiener Schnitzel & Tiroler Gröstl alongside dishes such as smoked salmon and baked potato. As you can see from above, the portions are ample!
The barman also told me about their speciality Kaiserschmarrn sauteed in Grand Marnier which I was sadly far too full to manage.. another trip will certainly be in order!
Aside from the food, one of the real attractions of the Alm is the wine cellar under the restaurant, which is rumoured to house around €6 million worth of wine! If you show interest in the wine list, one of the sommeliers may well show you the cellar and it’s 18L – Melchoir wine bottles. It is the largest collection of big bottle wines in the world. Although, with prices upwards of €50,000, you will want to tread carefully in your ski boots!
Famously, the wine cellar is reached by slide! Do not worry though if the thought of slipping and crashing into one of those bottles makes you as scared as it does me, as the slide is also the route to the toilets.
Finally, a ski restaurant where you do not have to struggle down the stairs in ski boots!
Take the slide and just try not to smile!