Skiing in The Hof (Bad Hofgastein) – Feb 2017

In early February, five of us headed off to Bad Hofgastein in Austria  – not to be confused with its bigger, more beautiful neighbour, Bad Gastein further up the valley.  More on that below…

Bad Hof is situated in the beautiful Gastein Valley, approximately 1 hour 30 mins from Salzburg Airport. (Although our outward journey took a bit longer due to weekend traffic and the small matter of our Crystal Ski bus colliding with a parked car!!  There was a bit of a ‘disagreement’ between the two drivers but we moved on eventually!  All very amusing afterwards but not at the time!)

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View from our hotel room in Bad Hofgastein

We travelled with Crystal Ski and stayed in the Salzburgerhof Hotel.  The hotel was a 3 star and very comfortable  – located in a great spot in the middle of the pretty town.  Our 1st floor room was perfect with a balcony overlooking a lovely square, with a fabulous view of the mountains.  The food was classic, no nonsense Austrian grub!  Lots of dumplings and cheesy things.   I’m a vegetarian and they managed to feed me well enough (and I’m quite fussy).   The staff were lovely and the ski bus to the main gondola stopped right outside – or it was a ten minute walk (without ski boots on).

Après-ski (We found it …eventually)

Bad Hof was great – but I had one (mediumish) problem.  Where was the après-ski??  It was VERY QUIET!!  This is unusual for an Austrian ski resort and I was surprised because it’s reasonably big, full of skiers.  I expect cheesy Euro pop everywhere and crowded après-ski bars.  In fact, this is the part of my ski holiday I love the most!  So if that is your thing, then Bad Hof isn’t for you!!   However, being the seasoned party animals that we are, we managed to squeeze some fun out of the place, so don’t let that put you off.

Our favourite bars were the Weinstube Zum Boten right opposite our hotel – friendly staff and lovely and cosy.  They let us gate crash a 30th birthday party on the first night, so happy days.  And the trendier Gastein Alm (across from the main gondola.

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Waterfall in Bad Gastein

On two nights, we headed to the bigger resort of Bad Gastein (ten minutes in a taxi and approx €50 between the five of us).  There is more apres ski action here but I have never seen or walked up such steep hills!!  It makes the Hovis advert look tame! Cruelly, most of the good bars are at the top of the hill (Mount Everest springs to mind).  So by the time you get to the bar, you are half dead and really deserve your drink!!

We went to the Silver Bullet  which is a massive bar full of drunk Swedish & Danish people (great fun!) and Haeggbloms Bar (full of hormonal adolescents, so we didn’t stay there too long).

Bad Gastein is an absolutely beautiful town.  It has an air of faded splendour about it with gorgeous period hotels situated on dramatic slopes along the valley.  On our last day, we were all skied out

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Interior of Kraftwerk

(not as young as we used to be) so we spent a few hours exploring.  It didn’t disappoint.  If you are visiting Bad Hofgastein, you must make the effort to visit here too.

I don’t know where we got the energy from, but we decided to walk down a precarious stair way (covered in snow & ice – the stair way of death) right to the bottom of the valley.  I’m so glad we did because we found the most wonderful bar/restaurant called Kraftwerk  – no not the 80’s German electronica act – it means power station in German.  This place was AMAZING!! I’ve never been anywhere like it
before.

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Giant magnets inside Kraftwerk

As the name suggests, it used to be a power station (c.1914) and it doubles up as a museum/bar/cafe.  It is at the bottom of a dramatic waterfall which flows through the centre of the town (and was used to power the place).  It was a brilliant bar.

 

It reminded me a bit of the old Frankenstein films as the place was full of dials and magnets.  But unfortunately, once you walk down to it, you have to walk back up!  But trust me – it really was worth it.

The Skiing!

The skiing is great but Bad Hofgastein is no place for beginners – so be warned!  It’s mainly lovely long red runs and some of them are more like blacks.  There is only one official black run in the resort but some of those ‘reds’ would definitely test you!  It is quite a big area and so will easily keep good skiers amused for the week.  When you’ve out skied the slopes around Bad Hofgastein,  the ski buses (very frequent) can take you to the surrounding areas where you can ski some more (e.g. Doftgastein, Bad Gastein, Sportgastein….)

The Spa – Alpentherme Gastein

There was a typical Austrian/German spa in the town, the Alpentherme Gastein. Apparently it’s a brilliant one and world famous, but you have to be naked to use it! OMG! One of our friends went along for an afternoon thinking he could turn up in his trunks…but oh no!  They spotted him and demanded that he stripped them off – which he did in front of his fellow spa users!  I’m sorry, but there is no way I’m going to be naked in front of a load of strangers – or worse in front of your friends!!

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Weitmoser Schlossl

The Schlossl

No ski holiday is complete without a fabulous schlossl – and Bad Hof has a very pretty one (Weitmoser Schlossl).  It is a ten minute walk from the Intersport Depot near the main gondola and you can go there for coffee/apple strudle or dinner.

We spent a beautiful sunny morning sitting outside on our last morning, while we were waiting for our transfer back.  A few hours later, we were back in rainy old Dublin!!

 

 

 

Although Bad Gastein is really beautiful, it is too big and the hills in the town too steep to walk around all week – so it lacks the Austrian ski village cosiness.   I was glad we based ourselves in Bad Hof Gastein.  It’s also really pretty but smaller – so it has more of that cosy Austrian ski resort feel to it.  And it’s easy to jump on a bus or get a taxi to Bad Gastein.

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Me in my trendy goggles – I love them
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All smiles until we walked up the hill…

 

 

 

 

February 2017

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