‘Relax. If you can…’ – so says the Ischgl ski resort tagline.
Written in bold black and red with lightning bolt motif, this is an ironic reference to Ischgl’s party reputation (which it can certainly live up to). There is, however, a different way to do Ischgl, a calmer way – if you so choose.
A mere 1.5 hours from the small and very manageable Innsbruck Airport, the transfer is a breeze. The route takes you up a long, steep-sided valley from Landeck through Kappl to Ischgl. Just a little further along are the hamlets of Mathon and Galtur – five and ten minute drives respectively.
Despite no snowfall for a good 2-3 weeks (after that initial mid-November flurry) the whole place was sparkling white under a blue sky when we emerged at 2400m at the top of the Silvrettabahn lift.
Ischgl has a very efficient snowmaking system ready to switch on when needed, and the majority of the slopes were open despite the lack of December snow. There were even ribbons of white trailing down the lower slopes and it was possible to ski all the way to resort at three different points.
Amongst the more raucous, euro-pop bars in the village, such as the legendry Nikis Stadl and Schatzi at the Hotel Elizabeth, we found several much more sedate options for après-ski. Of course we had to put our heads in the Schatzi for a quick look at the dancing girls, with their skimpy dirndl and sculpted abs, but we were much more at home in the lovely Plangger Winery.
With its cosy wooden tables, and a lighter touch on the volume control, we could sit and chat easily over lightly sparkling Austrian Chardonnay and sumptuous Italian reds from just over the border.
Positioned as it is in the Austrian Tyrol on the border with Switzerland and Italy, Ischgl cherry picks the best that the region has to offer. We enjoyed Swiss cheeses, Italian wines and some of the best food we’ve had in a ski resort for a long time.
Dining in Ischgl
Gourmets certainly won’t go hungry here – with the 5 star Trofana Royal Hotel and no less than 68 4-stars, the hotel restaurants are some of the best places to enjoy fine dining.
One of our favourite spots for lunch was the wonderful terrace of the Alpenhaus, just a few minutes from the Silvretta and Fimbabahn cable cars. We tucked into takes on traditional Austrian mountain fare, like schnitzel, noodle soup and kaiserschmarrn (sweet shredded pancakes with plum or apple sauce).
In the Alpenhaus’ slick style these hearty dishes are served with a light touch and a bowl of crunchy fresh salad on the side. So you have some hope of getting back up and skiing after a long lunch in the sunshine.
The stand out meal of the trip has to be our dinner at the Trofana Royal’s award-winning Paznaunerstube (with 3 Gault-Millau Toques and a Michelin star). If you enjoy an evening at the theatre, then don’t miss out on dining here. Chef Martin Sieberer and his staff dish up a high drama showcase, complete with character, humour and impeccable timing.
We loved the refreshing champagne sorbet disguised as a scallop, served just when you feel the need for something light amidst the intense flavours.
By the time we’d sipped the final wine pairing and tucked into the closing truffle trolley (a fun and elaborate take on the sweet trolley), it’s fair to say that we were thoroughly bamboozled. Really, don’t miss dinner here when you visit Ischgl.
For something completely different (well, you can’t sustain 10 courses every night of the week) we loved the unique Walser Stube in nearby Mathon. Just a five-minute taxi ride takes you to this traditional Austrian tavern housed in a 19th Century farmhouse. There’s even a Paznaun Farmer Museum just upstairs from the dining room where you can get a glimpse of how life used to be.
For dinner we tucked into hearty, no nonsense – but no less delicious – servings of spare ribs and fried potatoes or local river fish with herby potatoes and salad. The main course was followed by one of our favourite renditions of kaiserschmarrn to date, and rounded off with a delicious pear schnapps (sipped).
Spas and wellness
In between skiing, dining and relaxed après, we spent our time lounging by the fire in our hotel – the Hotel Seiblishof, where their excellent bartender serves a mean White Russian. We also donned dressing gowns and slippers and skipped off to the wellness centre at every opportunity.
The Seiblishof has a lovely quiet pool, as well as a spacious wellness area with several steam rooms, saunas and a chill out area. You’ll find that most of the hotels in Ischgl have really high quality spa areas, so do seek them out for a top up of calm. In the unlikely event that your hotel doesn’t feature a wellness area of its own, then the Silvretta Leisure Centre has a very nice public pool and sauna.
After a morning swim and a long buffet breakfast at the Seiblishof we set off for home. Leaning back in our seats and taking in the views as we were whisked back to the airport we took stock of the last few days. Were we feeling relaxed? Absolutely.
So Ischgl – in answer to your question. Yes. We most certainly can…
Travel with Inghams and stay at the 4* Hotel Seiblishof for 7 nights, on a half-board basis from £879 per person, including return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers. To book, visit the Inghams ski holidays site or call 01483 791 114.