We finally did it. Our first ski holiday (or white-week as we say in Italy) and we loved every minute of it. We were in St Anton, Austria, for New Year and I hoped so hard we would get snowed in on the last day.
It was so hard to leave. I really needed to disconnect from the worries of life in London and the peace of the falling snow really helped. I came back refreshed and definitely more optimistic about things.
St Anton is rated among the top five resorts in the Alps for very good reason: it is the biggest connected ski area in Austria. It is also one of Europe’s snowiest areas. In addition, it is an attractive town with stylish hotels, chalets and restaurants and bars.
Located within a couple of hours' drive of three international airports and with a train station located in the town centre, it is fairly easy to reach from London. We flew to Friedrichshafen with a chartered BA flight. The drive from the airport is about 1h or so.
We stayed in a catered chalet just 10 minute walk from the town centre, chalet Amelia, managed by Ski-Val. The service was great all together and if you need an agency, I would definitely recommend them. The chalet was quite modern but with classic elements to it (definitely so from the outside) and all the rooms had en-suite bathrooms which made sharing with 9 people quite easy.
The best thing about chalet life was having two great chalet boys (Will and Angus) around, cooking amazing food for us. I was so impressed by their professionalism and enthusiasm. They prepared breakfast and dinner every day, plus a cake for tea time. The cakes were so perfect the guys in our group thought they were bought at the patisserie every morning!
They played music for us, prepared soft-boiled eggs when the scrambles had already been made, hang out with us and put up with a group speaking three to four different languages at the time. They even offered to do my laundry althought I thought that was a step too far as I only had underwear to wash, ops!
Next to our chalet, Hotel Grischuna has a small outdoor pool with great views of the mountains which can be used by non-hotel guests. Try it if you need a warm bath!
I loved the New Year Eve show in the main square. Instead of fireworks, the town organised a laser show, with the idea of promoting a more sustainable way to entertain, although I have to admit, there were still a lot of fireworks fired by the hotels in the area. At midnight, the Viennese walz was played by the speakers and it was beautiful.
On the slopes
I will not spend so much time on the skiing because I am not a big skier. I took lessons everyday so I am greatly improved. The weather was challenging and the cold did not help but I can now go down a blue slope. Hurray! As much as I find skiing a difficult sport, I can see how addictive is to go down a slope and enjoy the fresh air and the views. Some friends skied all the way to Lech and also returned there for cross-country. The pictures they took are amazing.
I really liked warming up inside at lunch time. One day we went to Sennhütte, which is a small mountain hut on the slopes and serves beautiful food. They have a terrace with an amazing view and I heard also a decent apres ski with live music.
St Anton is the spiritual home of après thanks to the infamous Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh bars. You cannot miss après otherwise you can't say you have been to St Anton! The best places are:
The Mooserwirt. The self-proclaimed "world's baddest” après bar, the Mooserwirt is the essence of Austrian oompah après – think table-top dancing from 3.30pm onwards, fuelled by vast quantities of beer and Jägermeister and cheesy music. We went almost everyday and it is walkable from town or you can take a taxi or a bus to get there if you cannot ski.
Krazy Kanguruh. Across the piste from Mooserwiert, KK remains much the same as before, pulling in crowds of young English, Swedish and Australian ski bums for a slightly younger and hipper vibe than the Mooserwirt.
Restaurants and bars in town
We only had one evening meal outside the chalet on the night the chalet boys were off. Most seasonaires have Thursday off. This gorgeous chalet, which was built in 1912, was the set of the movie Chalet Girl. If you have not watched the movie, do it while you are in St Anton. It will be more fun. The villa serves as a ski museum by day and its intimate, oak-panelled hunting parlour, library and fireplace lounge serve as a delightful candlelit restaurant by night. Expect gourmet dining in a relatively format setting. I had risotto but you will also find some fresh water fish, which was excellent. The Kaiserschmarrn (scrambled pancakes) for dessert were to die for!
Most of the bars in the evening play live music. For New Year Eve we went to Anthony's. During the week we liked Murrmel, while the seasonaires recommend Bobo's, Cuba, and Scotty's. All of these are on the Main Street in town.
What to wear
I have a couple of favourite brands for ski clothes and I have discovered so many new ones in St Anton.
This year, I have bought a Perfect Moment Apres Duvet Jacket and white trouser to go with it.
My white Moot Boots were a massive hit! They are so comfortable and warm I wore them everyday. And given the price I will probably get them in another colour too.
I got a beautiful pom-pom cashmere beanie from N.Peal on sale before leaving London. They have a nice store in Covent Garden.
Next year, I will get something from Goldbergh. Their luxury range of ski gear is so beautiful, it is hard to chose what to get!