Schloss Velden, Austria

Velden_Schloss_05The historic retreat on Lake Worthersee where Europe’s Elite love to hide away.

While this part of the world frantically creates nouveau riche luxury – and invents an extra two stars in the process – the Europeans have been refining their original five-stars for centuries. Cities like Paris and London might attract the masses, but the moneyed set from northern Italy, Germany and Austria head to Lake Wörthersee – a playground for celebrities and royals.

A few hours’ drive from Vienna, Milan and Munich, the “Austrian Riviera” in Carinthia (the country’s southernmost province) is classic Alpine getaway territory. And the lakeside chateau resort, Schloss Velden, is the longstanding abode of choice.

Originally constructed in 1603 the Renaissance manor house was rebuilt in 1892 as a hotel. Modern renovations have brought the amenities into the 21st Century, pitching a mix of technology and luxury in a traditional setting. Rooms in the original château are especially charming, but the new wing also boasts some nice touches. There are televisions built in behind the bathroom mirror that aren’t visible until the set is turned on, while the touch pad by the bed opens the curtains, sets the temperature and dims the lights.

Being an Esquire man, you’ll want to do more than lounge around the hotel. Aside from boating and watersports on the lake, there’s a nearby golf course, horse riding and cycling, but we wholly recommend going hiking up the mountains — it’s like The Sound of Music, without the sound of seven annoying children. If you visit during the
winter, there are three ski destinations within an hour. With the heat becoming oppressive in our part of the world, European minibreaks are increasingly popular. This is how the Europeans have done it for years. It’s a fine few days of romantic adventure and historical elegance.

The hotel’s two Michelin-starred Schlossstern restaurant is by far the best in the area and one of the finest in the country. While the food is exactly what you’d expect given the accolade — the tasting menu is highly recommended — the period setting (dark wood, white linen, fi replace) gives it an aged elegance that is hard to find these days. For a little post-diner gaming entertainment, the Casino Velden is a few minutes walk from the front door.

The hotel’s Auriga Spa was recently named as the best destination spa in Europe, with facilities that accordingly stand up to anywhere on the continent. Their signature luna cycle treatments should wow the sort of woman a rich man might sneak away to these places; while the other things on off er, (saunas, steam room, indoor pool and Jacuzzis) are all great ways to spend an afternoon not thinking about the day job. If you prefer more traditional male relaxation techniques, the old, dark wood bar has a range of single malts and a walk-in humidor.

Price starting from 250– 550 Euros for Standard Room, depending on season. May and June are good times to visit with decent weather, lower rates and smaller crowds. Austrian airlines fly daily from Dubai to Vienna where you can transfer to Velden.

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