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Lech

Lech

Cocooned in snow and oozing class, this is Austria's most fashionable

Lech can justifiably lay claim to being Austria's most fashionable ski village - and a recent link-up with a neighbouring resort means it is now at the centre of one of the Alps' most vast and thrilling ski areas.

Lech, high in the Arlberg region that straddles the provinces of Tirol and Vorarlberg, is an affluent, traditional and picturesque village with a riverside location. Because of its altitude, the snow record is very good (an impressive average of eight metres a season) and Lech shares extensive skiing with the neighbouring village of Zurs. On the same lift pass is St Anton, St Christoph and Stuben, a short ski-bus ride away.

This is a smooth, discreet and sophisticated resort - a magnet for the crowned heads of Europe - and the slopes are as well-groomed as the guests. It's a paradise for cruisers, with pistes cut in huge swathes - and also attracts many free-riders and boarders.

A great day out on skis is the White Ring tour, embracing the villages of Zurs, Zug and Oberlech, and suitable for adventurous intermediates. To underline its luxury credentials, no fewer than seven chairlifts here have heated seats.

The new gondola connection with Warth-Schrocken provides a wealth of intermediate slopes to explore, adding an exciting fresh dimension.

Lech is also one of the few places in Western Europe where you can heli-ski, with drop-off points below the Braunarlspitze, giving super off-piste runs back to the piste network at Zug.

Above Lech, Oberlech is lunchtime central, with a number of hotels having sunny terraces. Choose the Montana and you may well bump into affable Austrian Olympic Downhill legend Patrick Ortlieb, who runs the place - 'I am biased of course but I believe Lech has everything to make the perfect ski resort,' he tells us.

The champagne bar of the Montana is popular for an apres-ski rendezvous, as is the umbrella bar of the Burg Hotel, also in Oberlech. Down in Lech, nothing could be nicer than enjoying some apres-ski by the river at the outdoor bar of one of our favourite hotels, the Krone, or enjoying the afternoon disco at the Tannbergerhof.


Skihütte Schneggarei

Skihütte Schneggarei

Spacious and stylish, Skihütte Schneggarei is an ever-reliable pit stop to refresh and sample a fine selection of food. Open-planned with plenty of bar stools, this is also a fine place to exchange skiing tips and see some friendly faces.

Uncomplicated in its design, this wooden shack is just as good for an après-ski drink as it is for a spot of lunch for an afternoon break. Choose from local and international classics, or opt for a treat in the form of a crispy pizza from the restaurant’s own wood-fire oven.

The "Schneggarei" is a return to the roots of alpine hospitality. "Schneggarei" is the old name of the town hall, on which it stands and means about as much as: steep slope with snails. Andreas Schneider leads this house as a place for informal rustic food, pizza from the wood stove and merry celebrations.


Fux Jazz Bar

Fux Jazz Bar

Mastering the tried-and-tested combination of live music and fine wines, the Fux Jazz Bar is the place to chill out after a long day on the slopes.

Enter the traditional bar and be whisked away into a movie scene where even James Bond wouldn’t look out of place. A roaring fire greets you before you pull up a bar stool and mull over the extensive collection of wines and single malts presented to you. Get a taste of something you like, sit back, relax and take in some superb jazz – perhaps with a cigar as well.

Trendy to the core, this après ski venue draws in the crowds from late in the evening til the early hours of the morning and it’s little wonder why with the dulcet sounds of live musicians and the remarkably comfortable seating making it hard to draw yourself away.