If you’re after some serious pampering and relaxation, this family run 70 room hotel and spa built into a hillside in Naturns offers next level guest attention...
Why go to Preidlhof:
Located in Northern Italy bordering Austria, you’ll find yourself enjoying the Mediterranean climate of the South whilst situated between alpines and olive trees. The Preidlhof ethos is two-fold: wellness is at the heart of their offering but with an Italian la dolce vita twist. It’s entirely up to you as to whether you take the health/detox approach or go down the more hedonistic route, but they do both equally well.
The challenge was in trying to fit in everything that they have to offer. I arrived in an extreme state of stress from my daily London grind and felt conflicted between wanting to spend my time lounging around the sauna punctuated by visits to their aptly named ‘Happiness Spa’ for massages and facials, or getting out into the surrounding mountains for hiking and Nordic walking (a guide and all equipment provided free of charge). Reader, I managed to do both.
Rooms are spread over two separate buildings: one comprises the original part of the hotel and the other is newly built luxury accommodation situated within an entirely new main building (the ‘Stammhaus’). 41 of the 70 rooms were upgraded in 2017 as a result of a €6m refurbishment and luxury upgrade and after a tour of the entire property, I can confirm that there is no bad room.
My south-facing suite in the Stammhaus was nearly as big as my 2-bed London flat and included a walk-in shower, separate WC, lounge area with flat screen TV and bar as well as a deck overlooking the valley and mountains with a full-size bed that can be made up by the hotel staff if you’d prefer to sleep outside. And on that point, given the importance of quality sleep for good physical and mental health, Preidlhof offers a ‘Good Night’ menu which includes 12 different kinds of pillows, mattress toppers, sound life sleep system and a relax bag with different sleeping aids. Wifi is turned off between the hours of midnight and 7am (you can connect via a cable if you’re desperate). Listen, if you can’t sleep here, you can’t sleep anywhere.
I’m not even sure where to start with this one. I found myself in the enviable position of having to be quite tactical about my meals for fear that I’d fill up on too much of some things and then not get to eat absolutely everything. All of the food at Preidlhof is seasonal and locally sourced: herbs from their garden, honey from their own bee farm, apples grown in their orchard, grapes picked by hand in their vineyard, meat and fish from local farmers. The hotel’s restaurant was awarded two toques by Gault Millau and offers a 7-course gourmet dinner every evening featuring modern South Tyrolean fare (mostly Mediterranean but with a German influence).
Lunch is a healthy buffet served from 14.00 to 17.00 (complete with homemade cakes – one of my culinary weaknesses). But if I’m truly honest, because I’m basic, breakfast is more my thing. Available between the very civilised hours of 07.30 to 11.00 (none of this throwing on last night’s clothes with bed head hair in order to sprint to breakfast before they shut it all down), the buffet was incredibly extensive with hot and cold options, homemade jams (made with fruit from their orchard obviously), homemade yoghurt, homemade breads with local butter (sensing a theme here?) as well as a smoothie bar and organic fruit. During my first breakfast there, I had a chat with the excellent and ever attentive maître d’, Martin, about the importance of my morning coffee and every breakfast thereafter, he would deliver a filter coffee with hot milk on the side within moments of my sitting down. In fact, Martin was a continual fixture over my four day stay and nothing was too much trouble. Every time we saw each other, it was like greeting an old friend.
The spa offering at Preidlhof is obviously one of the main reasons to go, and their Spa Tower is absolutely next level – 16 different sauna, steam and relaxation spaces situated over 6 floors with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards. The mango and eucalyptus infused steam and showers are not to be missed although my personal highlight was the immensely Instagrammable rooftop infinity sky pool that never had anyone else using it.
This is testament to how vast the facilities are. Smaller spas can feel crowded as you vie for the best deckchair next to the pool but that was not an issue in Preidlhof. Also within the Tower is the world’s first Deep Sea Relaxation Room using a combination of lights, sounds and vibrations to release tension. I managed to squeeze in a 15-minute session before leaving for the airport on my last day in an attempt to stave off the dread of returning to reality. You would have thought that after 4 solid days of me time, there wouldn’t have been an ounce of stress left in the tank. But once I surrendered to the experience, I felt the final last remnants of tension melting away. I might have even shed a tear or two.
It’s worth mentioning that full nudity is allowed in the saunas (and the norm in this part of the world), but they do provide you with a special towel to wear if that’s not quite your thing. Sticking to quieter times such as late morning or early afternoon will help you avoid being confronted with a stranger’s bits. Following on from this theme, two of my massages required me to roll onto my back and have my male therapists er, work on my bare breasts and stomach. Any feeling of relaxation I had up until that point went straight out the window. So, if you’re a bit repressed in that department or lacking in body confidence as I do, I would ask the question when booking treatments.
Healing Holidays (+44 20 7843 3592; healingholidays.co.uk) offers a four-night Pampering Spa programme from £1,159 per person (sharing), full board, including flights.
The next time I visit, I would be tempted to go for a full seven nights to take advantage of the amenities that I ran out of time for, such as the free Vespa and bicycle hire, use of the functional fitness gym and outdoor climbing wall and even, possibly, a spin in the hotel’s Porsche Cabriolet (the only thing that requires a small fee). It’s a 2-hour scenic drive from either Innsbruck Airport in Austria or Verona Airport in Italy and transfers are free if you book for a stay during March.
Words Gina LoBuglio