We have just returned form our second visit to Niederau and the Harfenwirt. It was a lovely lovely holiday and I am so glad we came back. Reviewers are entitled to their own opinions, and TripAdvisor is here to allow everybody to have their say, but if you have booked or are thinking of booking the Harfenwirt please take some of the negative comments with a pinch of salt. Your experience will very much depend on your expectations. If you expect a 5 star hotel you will be disappointed, if you expect gourmet food you will be disappointed. If you come with an open mind and a relaxed attitude, I guarantee you will enjoy yourself : )
Firstly, as one other reviewer pointed out, the Spa facilities are extremely good for a 3* hotel. I have not stayed at another of this rating with such a wide range of facilities, and I most definitely have stayed at hotels with a higher rating which did not deserve it in comparison. Yes the pool is small compared to your local swimming baths, but that's not what it is. The pool is actually a decent size and you can actually swim in it if you want to. There is more than one sauna, an ice bath, a jacuzzi, and one of those infra red booths which looks really cool and probably does great things for tired muscles!
Last year we stayed in the new part, this year we stayed in the old part. Initially I was disappointed, but the room was absolutely fine! Yes the decor is a little dated but the room was so clean, and spacious too. I actually marvelled at how such an old bathroom could have been kept that clean over such a long space of time! I wonder whether Herbert regrets having built the new section to such a high standard (or even at all) as it's turned out to be a bit of a curse for him. Were it not there I suspect that the majority of those who complain about the old section might well have been perfectly happy with their rooms. A little of the green eyed moster making an appearance methinks, which is kind of understandable but no more than that.
The food is fine too. After a long day of skiing there is plenty of hot food available, and although a couple of the combinations made us laugh, there wasn't a single day when we weren't satisfied after a meal. They admittedly seem to struggle to keep up with the demand for eggs and bacon in the morning, but these are a typically british breakfast and if you don't get them you will not starve : ) There is always plenty of bread, meat and cheese, which is after all the continental breakfast you are promised when you book. If you see the bacon and eggs as a bonus you won't be disappointed. I actually managed to have some on most days but couldn't resist finishing it off with a little meat and cheese sandwich as well!
Prices at the bar are equivalent to the UK, but then with the Euro exchange that's not such a bad deal really. The hot chocolates at the bar are out of this world - like drinking liquid Milka... mmmmmmm...! Zipfer is the most common beer drunk and like a typical Austrian beer has a lovely clean taste. You may also get a courtesy shot of home made pear and apple schnapps from Walter. My fiancee had the cheek to compare it to paint thinner, to which Walter looked at him with disgust and replied "Nah... it is only 45%". Peach schnapps (or sweet schnapps as Walter calls it) is "for the girls"!
I celebrated my birthday while were were there this time and Herbert/Walter organised a little cake for me which was gorgeous. What a place to be on your birthday - I would genuinely recommend it.
As for the area itself - one very important element is the local Schilschule. 1. Wildschonau Schischule (red) is amazing. We completed a basic learn to ski course last year, and then booked some private lessons this year. I would highly recommend this to anybody learning to ski. My confidence improved dramatically during this holiday. If you have little 'uns with you I would have no hesitation in recommending the Kinder Club (part of the same ski school) for them to have lessons and start skiing with.
I have probably forgotten to write loads, but now that I've started thinking back to the holiday I've gone in to a little dream world with a big smile on my face. I was actually really sad to leave which will sound pathetic to some of you - others will know what I'm talking about. As I said in the title, I have a real soft spot for this place and I suspect we will continue to return for many years.
Thank you Walter and Herbert - can't wait to see you next year : )
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tradition mixed with modern. Superb family hotel direct on the piste. Breathtaking views from all rooms. New large heated indoor pool (80m²) with sauna and steam bath overlooking the cross country tracks. Large sun terrace facing the Tennladen slopes Ski Arena race track and paragliders landing area. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Harfenwirt Hotel Niederau