My latest piece in Travel + Leisure, Peak Glamour, is a round-up of ultra-chic ski lodges in Europe. There are some pretty spectacular places on the list, including the 12-generation (!), new-and-old-world-blending Taxhof, set on a pristine mountaintop smack in the middle of the Austrian Alps.
Another place in Austria, Das Regina ended up not making the final version–because of space constraints, not worthiness. It doesn’t date back centuries like the Taxhof, but there’s a really compelling story. Nightlife entrepreneur Olaf Krohne bought the run-down, 32-room hotel two years ago and gut-renovated it to create a stylish, hipster-approved respite with Belle Epoque architecture, modern touches and some of the original furniture, like the ornate, gold Venetian beds. “It’s a little bit chic and has glamour, but you can absolutely wear a t-shirt to dinner,” says Krohne, who fell in love with the laid-back town of Bad Gastein–“the anti-St. Moritz”–as a child, “Bad Gastein used to be a place where kings and emperors came at the turn of the 19th century. The combination of urban ambiance in the middle of nature has always fascinated me. And none of the houses really fit in here… the architecture is more North Italian or they could just as well be in Vienna or Paris. These buildings are still standing and only some of them have been renovated. There are so many empty, nostalgic houses, which is why it attracts so many creatives. This place releases fantasies.”
Guests hang out in the rambling mansion, which Olaf has divided into relaxed public spaces –a homey café, restaurant, spa, living room (with visits from Berlin DJs going late into the night), and a 16-person cinema. “In the 70s Das Regina was bought by a couple who already owned several hotels in Venice. She was Austrian, he Venetian. At first they ran it by themselves but later they leased it to an Italian family. That is one of the reasons why the house has such a strange mix of Austrian, Italian and Venetian elements – like the golden beds,” explains Olaf. On the south side of the house, there’s a mountain beach created from sand from the glaciers and a big wooden terrace, where apres-ski is in full swing with open fires and an igloo. The other genius complement: the Regina Skybar–a bar Olaf built on top of the mountain. You have to take the railway up the mountain, and it looks like a giant silver UFO with a big terrace.
Prices start at $106 a night. Book it at welcomebeyond.com.