1. It’s not too far away
It’s an easy Easyjet flight from Gatwick to the stunning mountain-surrounded Innsbruck airport in 1 hour 55 minutes (no need for unpleasant airplane food, exercises to combat deep vein thrombosis or excess facial moisturising).
2. Das Central is one of the best (and most accommodating) hotels ever
An easy 50-minute transfer from Innsbruck, Das Central is not your typical fancy-schmancy digs. At risk of sounding cliched, there really is something for everyone. This is a seriously impressive place; 121 rooms in 25 different styles ranging from traditional alpine and country house style to Provencal and luxuriously modern as well as two restaurants and a spa. A family-owned establishment, Das Central prides itself, quite rightly, on the home from home atmosphere, which translates into guests' dogs pottering around the beautiful old reception area and no need for heels at dinner.
3. One of the best spas ever
The spa a.k.a Waterworld (which doesn’t really do the Venician-themed haven justice) has got 10 different saunas, a salt room, steam room (Hungarian and standard, obviously, where the flavour changes every hour. Chocolate, honey and avocado was a firm fave) and pool - complete with gondola and treatment menu.
I had a back and foot massage and even if I hadn't just done my first day of skiing in a year, I’m sure it would have sent me to sleep (in a good way).
4. Excellent skiing - without extortionate ski passes and hoards of people
The skiing from Solden is some of the most renowned in Europe. The height ranges from 3,250m at the top to 1,377m down in the valley; an impressive altitude which allows skiing late into spring. It’s not just seriously beautiful, with 150 km of slopes due to it's connections to the glacier slopes of Tiefenbach and Rettenbach, but this trio of panoramic platforms above 3000 metres, accessible by mountain lifts, is unique to Austria.
5. It’s foodie (and wine) heaven
Just up the mountain, one gondola away from the hotel, is the very impressive IceQ restaurant. Featured in Spectre (the upcoming Bond film), this is one eatery to check out - and soon. Not only do they have their very own wine, the delectable Pino 3000, made up of three stellar Pino Noirs, from wine makers in Germany, Austria and Italy, but an extensive menu and even more impressive views (and don’t get me started on the carafes.)
Just to give you an idea of the cuisine; our four course meal comprised something which looked a lot like a cherry tomato, but wasn't, salmon tartare on a base of avocado cream, beef with vegetables, marrow and gravy, and an artistic-looking dessert of chocolate-covered mousse, maple syrup balls and hazelnut powder, and an array of perfectly complementary wines - including the Pino3000 and an Austrian white which reignited my waning love of white wines.
Then there's Wirtshaud Am Giggijoch, another slopeside restaurant with a traditional Tyrolean menu, including potato soup, a brown butter filled pasta, veal and a fruit and an incredible chocolate-covered cream cheese dumpling (don't knock it 'til you've tried it) and fruit dessert.
Down in the hotel, there's two restaurants. Not just the ilk which you go to when you can’t be bothered to take your sheepskin footwear off (which you don't have to anyway), they’re seriously special. Dinner at Restaurant Feinspitz was truly delish. After the multi-course lunch up the mountain, one might have thought another meal a couple of hours later would have been nigh on impossible - but how wrong you'd be. The menu comprises of salads, starters, hearty main course and a final course, with a selection of desserts and cheese. I tried the deer ragout, a shrimp and avocado dish, fish and a mini creme brulee and myriad cheeses, with a selection of perfectly accompanying wines and port.
The other restaurant at the Das Central is the traditional Otztaler Stube, which serves Alpine dishes, including Tyrolean beef and a freshly caught brown trout, created and cooked by super chef Gottfried Prantl, featuring and based around locally grown and sourced ingredients. Theres the option of a fondue evening too, in the beautiful old wine cellar, for €12 added to the included meal.
A short drive away from Das Central is the dreamiest little shack in the mountains where we had a rustic breakfast of cheese, meats, coffee and hot chocolate.
6. It's the setting for the new Bond movie - enough said
It's SO incredible that part of the new James Bond film, Spectre, was filmed there so the crowds will be flocking after its release in October...