Great grub on the Austrian mountains

15th January 2013, by Abi Butcher

A proper skier's lunch: goulash soup in the Horchwurzen Alm, Schladming

A proper skier's lunch: goulash soup in the Horchwurzen Alm, Schladming

As a ski destination for Brits, Austria is on the up. According to a Ski Industry Report produced last year by Crystal, the number of Brits choosing Austria to ski has risen for the second year running, and now has 27.9% of the market, behind France with 34.6%.  This was my third trip to Austria — I skied in Obertauern as a child then, about eight years ago, Obergurgl and St Anton, when I have to admit to being quite interested in what the après-ski bars had to offer.

Fast-forward a few years and I’m now quite interested in what the mountain restaurants have to offer for lunch. In Schladming, I was never disappointed. I reckon this has to be one of the cheapest ski resorts in the Alps for eating out (it scores 85 in the WTSS Resort Price Index) but, better still, the food is consistently great and the mountain huts all charming, with amazingly speedy service.

Because it’s so far east, despite the fact that its highest mountain, Hauser Kaibling, is 2,015m, Schladming is cold. And after a morning burning about on its red slopes (this area is an intermediate cruiser’s paradise) what better way to warm up than by devouring a hearty goulash soup and bread for just €4.50, while your gloves, hat and coat get dry and warm by the fire?

The first day we stopped at the Schaf-Alm, a large restaurant at the top of the Planai gondola. Bizarrely it has sheep housed next to it, separated from the restaurant by a glass wall, so diners can chat to next week’s meal. It was Saturday lunchtime and the place was packed, but we found a seat, ordered our meal (I had the baked potato with sour cream, bacon and cheese for €5.80) and our food was served almost immediately.

Day two, on the Hochwurzen mountain we stopped in the picturesque Horchwurzen Alm, a sweet little hut at the top of the Hochwurzen Fun Jet chairlift where one diner was happily playing a trumpet. I recommend the goulash soup, but not if you want to eat anything for the rest of the day.

Drinks are fabulously cheap here – depending on what you choose. A glass of wine will set you back around €2.00 and a coffee around €2.50 — though opt for a glühwein and the price pushes up to about the €4 mark, or a 0.5ltr beer for around €3.80, still not bad value by ski resort standards.

Continuing in the same vein, evening meals are unbelievable. Five-course menus are standard (and I defy you not to try everything!), and most hotels offer accommodation on half-board basis, so you will be fed handsomely every night.

The first night of our trip we ate in the hotel where we were staying, the four-star Sporthotel Royer — where the buffet spread was more like a banquet. In fact the “smallest” meal we ate, of only two courses, was at the Hotel Kirchenwirt, another property with Crystal. I chose the local Weiner schnitzel with a salad, and the breaded escalope arrived within minutes, covering an entire dinner plate. It cost just €11.50 — a real bargain by even UK standards.

My top tip if you’re planning to ski in Schladming, is to diet before you go and ski hard while you’re there.

Crystal offers packages to Schladming — a week’s stay in the four-star Hotel Ferienalm from 2 March costs just £429 per person based on two sharing with half board. For more information, visit crystalski.co.uk



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