Located at the very heart of Sölden, among Austria’s most coveted ski resorts, Das Central could hardly be more aptly named. But the hotel, which holds the title as the region’s longest-running five-star address, is all about helping guests get out of town and into the majestic mountain scenery that surrounds it. With an astounding repertoire of experiential activities, Das Central is the perfect base to explore the adventure land of Tyrol.
It sure is a beautiful journey driving down the Ötztal valley from Innsbruck en route to Sölden: mountains welcome you to the area on either side of the road, crystal-clear streams and rivers wind their way along forested paths and traditional houses complete the picture of a fairytale destination. From the outside, Das Central fits right in with Austria’s architectural customs, sporting a white and brown colour palette, pretty balconies bedecked with primroses and wooden shutters that frame the top-floor windows of our favourite part of the main building, a tower-like construction fit for Rapunzel herself. And speaking of a princess, we very much felt treated like one upon checking in, with staff conjuring up welcome drinks in no time, and our bags disappearing into the hotel’s interior realm, only to await us in our upstairs room minutes later.
If you hadn’t already guessed, service is on point here. Wherever you look, members of the team offer courteous smiles and help before you ask for it, whizzing about in their neat uniforms as they organise day trips, make reservations and deliver ice-cold bottles of Almdudler to the hotel’s 125 rooms and suites (we insist you try it!). Staff seemed noticeably young and energetic, in fact, which might explain the enthusiasm with which they go to work – it’s either that, or the local pine schnapps, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Skipping the latter, we instead opted for one of the many elegant cocktails available at the hotel bar, before walking over to Feinspitz, the main restaurant at Das Central.
Feinspitz boasts both a five-course gala menu alongside a heaven-sent and daily changing veggie menu, as well as alternating salads and antipasti via a generous buffet. Now, we’re usually sceptical of buffets, but the quality of food here was on par with à la carte dishes; from sushi for dinner to freshly-baked breads at breakfast and a designated juice room where we came up with our very own smoothie recipes (to varying degrees of success, admittedly). There’s also the hotel’s toque-rated fine dining restaurant Ötztaler Stube, but in a quest to reach for the skies, we instead made our way to the 3,048 metres high outpost of Das Central, 2013-opened ice Q.
A €4.5 million eatery atop Gaislachkogl mountain, ice Q offers breathtaking views of the Italian Dolomites on one side, and Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, on the other. Its 900 square-metre glass facade makes it easy to get lost in the landscape, though an inspired menu with innovative, vegan options also added to the experience of lunching here – so did the PINO 3000, a collaboration between Das Central and three wineries, which uniquely matures up here.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Right next to ice Q sits the ultra-sleek 007 ELEMENTS, a James Bond-themed, immersive museum at +3,000m, built into the mountain much like a real-life Bond villain’s lair (it’s no coincidence: ice Q itself served as the filming location for the Hoffler Clinic in 2015’s ‘Spectre’). Our visit was spectacular from start to finish, especially travelling up to the summit in a glass cablecar while Bond theme songs roared from the speakers. Shaking and stirring, all at once.
We thought ice Q was a worthy symbol of the kind of hotel this Alpine hideaway seeks to be; somewhere that embraces adventure and a lust for life. This becomes particularly apparent when booking an activity through Das Central, whether you opt for scenic hikes, e-biking tours, the high rope course at nearby AREA 47 (boy, did we cut a fine figure!) or our favourite, a downright hysterical yoga session with alpacas at Sölden’s Brandlehof. Throughout our stay, the hotel has been excellent in getting us ‘out there’ and making the most of our trip, which we were grateful for not least because the town of Sölden as such isn’t quite as easy on the eyes as the surrounding mountain scenery.
Our room, in contrast, felt bright and friendly. We enjoyed the smart lighting options that were actually intuitive, Alpine-inspired toiletries, a coffee maker for a caffeine fix first thing in the morning and a large bathtub to sink into last night at night. There was plenty of space and a desk to get some work done, too, or even do cartwheels, should you hit writer’s block. As one would expect, wooden surfaces set the agenda across the hotel’s rooms and suites, and they’re complemented by earthy-coloured fabrics courtesy of Etro and Lizzo (the interior design brand, not the singer!). While our lodgings were certainly spacious and well-equipped, we did think they were a little tame. A splash of colour, a statement artwork or even just a fancy throw for those cold winter nights would’ve gone a long way in elevating our room’s ‘luxe appeal’. That said, we hear the chalet-style Presidential Suite at the top end of the accommodation spectrum boasts a private jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room.
Speaking of wellness, the hotel’s Venetian-style spa is a must. Although ‘spa’ is a curiously short word to describe what Das Central refers to as the ‘Venezia water world’; a three-storey space offering just about every type of sauna or thermal cabin you could possibly imagine. From a tepidarium and a hot stone room to an infrared sauna and a dedicated ice room, you could easily spend an entire afternoon perspiring away; especially seeing complimentary health teas and smoothies in the main room make it easy to stay hydrated throughout. The hotel also acknowledges that not every guest is comfortable with the no-clothes spa policy practised across German-speaking countries, and a range of clothes-on saunas is available for those not looking to show off their, err, curves.
All things considered, Das Central makes for a fabulous gateway into the mountains of Tyrol, whether you visit during Sölden’s snow-sure winter season from October to May, or, as we did, in the summer. The hotel provides unpretentious and friendly feel-good luxury, the type you don’t always see in opulent interiors, but certainly sense in its formidable service and elaborate offering of leisure activities. Needless to say, we’re already planning our return.