Ready for a challenge? Head to Lech for the ultimate skiing experience

I always hated skiing as a kid.

Ski trips have a reputation for being luxurious getaways with booze, snow, and spas in the Alps – but most ski trips as a six year old ended with cold nights, damp clothes, and sore feet.

Not to mention I’m really clumsy, I don’t exercise, and I hate the cold – so the winter sport was never exactly my favourite activity.

It’s been six years since I’ve gone back to the mountains. I’d much rather spend a week laying in the sun on a hot beach.

But I’m always open to having my mind changed – so I headed to Arlberg, one of the world’s oldest ski regions, for a weekend of food and snow… and a ski race.

That’s right – after six years of no skiing, and a lifetime of minimal exercise and maximum couch potato-ing, I competed in a ski race that I was heavily under-prepared for, and I loved it.

Getting to Lech

Apart from the 4:30am wake-up to catch an early morning flight, getting to Lech was easy enough.

We flew into Innsbrück, a journey that takes roughly two hours and which I slept through most of. I woke up and looked out the window as we landed on a small runway in the middle of the Alps, surrounded by staggering mountains and beautiful Austrian cottages.

Once we were through security, it was just over an hour’s drive until we were on the slopes. If you’d rather take public transport, you can take a train to Langen am Arlberg train station, which is a short bus ride away from the resort.

Hotel Post – The gasthof was one of the first buildings in Lech (Picture: Berni Botto/

Hotel Gasthof Post

We stayed at the Post, an intimate 5 star hotel in central Lech. Owned by the Moosbrugger family since 1937, the lodge is the height of Alpine chic.

Paintings of mountain scenes and deer antlers lined the walls, making the whole place feel like a cozy cabin while retaining a feeling of luxury.

Before settling in, we stopped for lunch in one of the hotel’s four main restaurants, the Kutscherstube, which serves traditional Austrian cuisine. I’d highly recommend the apfelstrudel here.

In the evenings we enjoyed dinner at the Postblick, the main food hall at the Post, or at the Jägerstube, a private, cozy, gourmet restaurant showcasing the hotel’s best dishes.

The bedroom was a great update from my tiny London flat (Picture: Berni Botto/

I stayed in a Hunters Lodge room, which came fully fitted with a stereo system, a very comfortable double bed – a welcome upgrade from the cheap springy mattress in my London flat – and a snowed-down balcony with full view of the slopes.

The bathroom came with heated floors and a standing tub, where I spent most of my evenings soaking in a relaxing bubble bath and watching Netflix.

I spent most nights watching Netflix in this tub. No regrets.

We also had the chance to try out the Post’s spa, featuring saunas, an outdoor heated pool, and several wellness treatments including massages, facials and healing baths. A 50 minute aroma oil massage costs €105 and will really do the trick for aching legs after a long day of skiing.

Stay at the Gasthof Post Lech from €180 a night. The Jägerzimmer, or Hunter’s Room, runs from €390 a night.


One of the worst parts of ski trips is always the uncomfortable plastic ski boots clamping down on your feet all day. But when we stopped by Strölz, a family-owned ski company that’s been around since 1921, we were measured and fitted for boots that were the perfect size, width, and shape. I kid you not, these boots were so comfortable it was like skiing with pillows on your feet. Game changer.

As for the skis, they had several different models available to fit your skiing level and style.

Once we we had our ski gear, we headed onto the slopes.

I’d be lying if I said going round this bend at full speed didn’t absolutely terrify me (Picture: Berni Botto/

Arlberg is one of the five largest ski resorts in the world and is home to one of the oldest ski clubs. Der Weisse Ring, or the White Ring, is a 22 kilometre ski route that runs through the entire Arlberg region. The route is full of culture and history, giving some insight into the birth of Alpine skiing as we know it, and is a popular sightseeing tour.

If you need to stop for a break, there are several cafes and restaurants dotted around the place where you can enjoy some goulash in the sun. But if you get the chance, don’t miss out on the Trittkopf BBQ Station, a barbecue joint in an old converted ski lift station. They make their rubs in house and slow cook their meat over smoke for 16 hours – it’s delicious.

It really feels as big a circuit as it is. You can ski in a completely different area and near a different town every day for a week, surrounded by staggering mountains, all on the same ski-pass.

The slopes are huge and the views absolutely stunning – I was blown away.

An adult ski pass will cost you €158,00 for three days, or €249,00 for five days. More options are available on the region’s website.

If your feet ache after a long day, you can ride around in a horse and carriage (Picture: Berni Botto/

The White Race

As if I wasn’t already scared enough to run a ski race, nobody told me the start line was uphill. Uphill. In skis!

But as scary as it was, I would go back and do it all over again. After that first hurdle, it was smooth sailing down empty slopes in the early morning sun. I could feel my fringe freezing as my skis fleeted between the flags that marked the way, fresh snow crunching under my weight.

Yes, it was a race, but it didn’t feel like it. The White Ring Race is open to people of all ages and skill levels, making it quite doable even if you aren’t a professional skier – which I can assure you, I’m definitely not.

The faster skiers compete in timed trials before the event, and are placed further up the pack, so I didn’t have to worry about too many people overtaking me at high speeds.

Those of us closer to the end of the pack focused more on having a good time and getting through the race in one piece.

It’s an incredible experience and I definitely recommend you take part if you’re a confident skier.

The fastest run time is 45 minutes, and it took me around twice that to finish. An embarrassing amount of that extra time was spent walking up hills that I didn’t build enough speed to go over.

I only fell once, so I’m putting this one down as a success.

The White Ring Race returns January 18th, 2020.

I’ve never loved skiing. But after a week in Arlberg, I may have been convinced otherwise.

There isn’t quite anything like breathing in fresh mountain air on a sunny day and feeling like you’re literally on top of the world. And although my legs still ached a week after the race, it was a good kind of pain – a reminder that I ran a ski race and by some miracle didn’t break any bones.

Arlberg isn’t the most affordable ski region, but it is by far one of the most beautiful. So if you’re looking for a week of pampering and luxury in the middle of the Austrian alps, look no further than Lech. You won’t regret it.

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