Favourite Things: Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Austria

Austria rarely makes the provisional list for a long weekend but, with its chocolate-box views and Von Trapp connections, Salzburg’s historic Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron may change all that.

They’ve got proper mountains surrounding Salzburg in Austria, all grey, green and snow-capped white that zigzag along the horizon as if painted by a five year old in wet playtime. These epic promontories stand on the North-East fringes of the Alps, a mere yodel away from the fairy-tale Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron. This is border country; the uplands might be in Germany but Austria gets all the benefits.

The Schloss was built in 1736 as the family seat of Catholic bishop Leopold Anton Freiherr von Firmian, a man who, at the time, was in the process of fixing a tattered reputation following his ill-conceived expulsion of 22,000 Salzburg Protestants, the economic implications of which were disastrous for the city. Firmian recruited Scottish monk/architect Bernard Stuart as the Schloss’ master builder, although there seems little indication that Austria’s first deep-fat fryer was included in the original kitchen layout.

Schloss in Austria
The Schloss’ views of the lake and Berchtesgaden Alps

In 2014, 55 rooms were added to the hotel’s 12-suite capacity by renovating the adjacent Meierhof, a former administrative wing, where MAN London stayed. Curiously, a refurbished fence panel acted as the bed headboard, while the room’s paint scheme of gold and cream stripes, ceiling included, gave the impression of being in the centre of a rather fancy cake.

Both added a firm dash of Österreich quirk, but for £20 extra a night, a superior Sound Of Music double room, with its boutique colour palette, might be better suited to your taste. The Sound Of Music? Didn’t we say? Schloss was the Von Trapp’s residence in the 1965 Julie Andrews nun/childcare musical. While a Meierhof room is perfectly cheery, Christopher Plummer would no doubt opt for a more stately Premium Suite (from £274) in the main house, looking towards an ornamental lake and the 6,473ft Untersberg massif.

The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but you’ll struggle to get a decent cup of tea in Austria. Entrepreneurs take note: you could make millions catering for the UK tourist market here. But what the country lacks in quality hot beverages, it makes up in other ways. Take a 40-minute stroll to the 11th-century Hohensalzburg fortress and, in its lee, sip a local Stiegl beer at the hillside Stieglkeller. Gazing down at trolleybuses, church rooftops and distant slopes, sit back, breathe the salutary air and listen as passing Austrian-German speakers discuss matters strudel and wurst. ML