Easy Escapes: Skiing in Lech, Austria

Caroline Garland hits the slopes in this chic and exclusive resort

(Image credit: Christoph Schöch)

Caroline Garland hits the slopes in this chic and exclusive resort

Caroline Garland hits the slopes in this chic and exclusive resort

Why go: For easy and exhilarating skiing in a fashionable mountain resort with an excellent snow record. Set in a valley in the Arlberg mountains, Lech offers wide, often treeless runs which are more typical of the US than Europe. The fairytale village is populated with ultra-stylish slopers – both the Austrian and German royal families ski here and the hotels and restaurants are pretty upmarket. Some of the 47 ski lifts have heated seats (a rare treat!) and you can pretend to be Bridget Jones in The Edge of Reason. We're sure you remember this scene...

It's snowing! Caroline gears up for a thrilling day on the slopes; skiwear by Perfect Moment

When: the ski season runs from the beginning of December until the end of April depending on snowfall. You can check the current snow conditions and forecast at skiclub.co.uk.

Stay at: The four-star Hotel Gotthard (double rooms from £118 with breakfast; gotthard.at) is family-run with two restaurants and 50 modern rooms in a cosy, comfortable style with a pretty snowy scene to look onto. Owners Clemens and Nicole Walch make it feel like you’re staying with friends and you can sense the pride they take in making sure everything's just right. The hotel has an incredible bakery (you can breathe in the delicious smells of rye breads, sweet pastries and pains au chocolat when you walk through reception) and the complimentary spa facilities are very welcome after a day of racing down mountains. Treatments include a 55 minute detox massage using honey (£73) while the sauna is the perfect place to relax weary muscles. You might even dare your inner free spirit to bare all, as is the Austrian way…

Crisp and even: a bedroom at Hotel Gotthard

On the slopes: Ski lifts are open 9am-4.30pm depending on daylight. You can buy passes from the Lech-Zürs tourist office in the town centre. Strolz (strolz.at) rents out equipment and Lech Ski Schule (skischule-lech.com) offers group and private lessons. Before you go order some on-trend kit from French label Perfect Moment (perfectmoment.com), the colours are great with an option of loose or skinny-legged pants.

Dine at: The standard of dining in Lech is high with costs similar to what you might pay in London – average price for dinner with wine is €60/€70 a head upwards with cheaper options too. The à-la-carte restaurant at Hotel Gotthard (Restaurant Lecher Stube) serves wonderful wintery classics from Austrian (pork medallions, apple strudel) to international – if you happen to be there for 'Austrian Night' you're allowed to borrow a dirndl (Austrian national dress) from the hotel which I secretly couldn’t wait to get into. Also try the hotel's hay-infused gin cocktail, which looks weird but is so good you'll want to grab some of that hay to take home.

Mountain high: you'll find great skiing in on the pistes around Lech

Around the resort, Haus No 8 (hus8.at) is a large wooden house with all the enchantment of Hansel and Gretel, covered in snow with glowing orange windows. Tuck into a classic fondue, dipping chunks of bread and pickles into the yummy, boozy cheese. Or for something Italian, Schneggarei (schneggarei.at) is a modern alpine-style restaurant serving all the usual suspects as well as a more unusual Nutella and mascarpone calzone – it's a killer!

For après-ski, book a table in the restaurant at Hotel Goldener Berg (goldenerberg.co.uk). It's the sort of place Santa might live with lots of wood and traditional Austrian music played with accordion and guitar that gets everyone clapping and swaying – just what you need after a bracing day skiing in horizontal snowfall.

Bring home: Serving the many beautiful people in town, the rather fabulous Strolz (strolz.at) can provide all the ski wear, party dresses and chunky knits you might ever need, plus labels ranging from Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana to Moncler if you deserve a treat. Mere mortals may prefer to just bring back a bottle of local schnapps from a supermarket... For something very different, local accordion player and woodcarver extraordinaire Konrad Huber has a shop (Filomenapassage, A-6764) with every kind of wooden object you could imagine from bread-boards and key-rings to a family of beavers.

The naked truth: after a day on the slopes, warm up in the sauna at Hotel Gotthard

Book now: British Airways (ba.com) flies from London Heathrow to Zurich from £134 return in February; from here Arlberg Express (arlbergexpress.com) runs a shuttle bus service to Lech that takes around three hours and costs £60 return. Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies from London Gatwick to Innsbruck from £84 return, transfers by road take 1 hour 45 minutes and cost £200 one-way by taxi for up to three passengers (lechzuers.com/travel-information). Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalholidays.co.uk) offers week-long packages to Hotel Gotthard flying from London Gatwick that include half-board, coach transfers to and from Innsbruck, and the option to order ski passes and equipment in advance.

Info: Useful sites are lechzuers.com, vorarlberg.at and austria.info.

Thumbnail and lead image © LechZuersTourismus/Christoph Schoech