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Half board pensions in Austria - talk us into it

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hoping folk can advise on the best accommodation option for our second ever ski holiday and first to Austria (Dec 16 to 23).
Last year we went to La Rosiere in France, rented a stunning apartment and dined out most evenings as we really aren't for cooking. It was fabulous though inevitably pricey as we enjoy wine/beers and our sons aged 21 and 17 eat like horses.
We have flights booked to Salzburg along with car hire, but are waiting to see where the early season snow is, in the belief/hope of grabbing a late accommodation bargain (main contenders Saalbach-Hinterglemm or Obertauern).
I see many family-run pensions offering half board, which appears to be a sensible/economical option, but don't know what to expect of the dining arrangements: how many courses, are there usually menu options, can we buy wine/beer, and are meals at a set time and allocated table?
I appreciate standards may vary (with price?) but would be grateful for any guidance on what 'the norm' looks like.
Thanks, and bring on the snow!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
When we have done half board at a pension in the past dinner was provided by a local restaurant or hotel.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
that depends.
Some pension have three courses meal, some other buffet.
When we are talking about family-run pensions, do not expect something gourmet etc.
I mean do not have expectations such as 5courses meal with choices for the main course or desserts etc
If yes you will be lucky. Maybe salat from buffet, a choice (veggie or something with meat) and sometimes dessert from buffet or also a the 3d course.
I have been also in a pension where there was only one course very simple, but also very cheap.
And there is also the option to eat breakfast in you pension, and meal in a Restaurant or hotel

Usually you have your own table, and meals are from XX:XX till XX:XX
Sometimes there are drinks inclusive (wine, beer, soft drinks) but that happens usually in Summer
But you can order wine/beer and pay extra
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@Halitosis, Suggest you ask the questions of the Pension you are staying at they'll be best placed to give you the detail.

In general it's usually a 3-4 course meal,. starter/ salad course (normally but not always) / main and sweet, yes you can buy drinks (they are there to make money, its chargeable not free like a chalet, but is therefore better than alloy wheel cleaner), and yes you get allocated a table.

Generally standard is good, not haute cuisine but good hearty food ime. if you go out you'd likely pay double.

What's not to like?.......I see you are from Scotland, you may struggle with neeps/ tatty's/ squary/ deep fried marsbars and haggis but they'll provide equally good local food! Enjoy it.... wink

PS - Only joking btw, love Scotland and its food.....go for the Pension, you won't be disappointed. Been going 30 years to Austria and never had bad food experience (not the best it has to be said for vegans but that hasn't affected me).
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
As they are often family run there's no set rules as to what you'll get/how.

Most will have at least a breakfast room and offer the usual unlimited continental breakfast buffet (though they might not take well to making sandwiches for lunch), almost always with boilded eggs and while you'll usually get coffee tea drinkers might want to take their own tea bags and just ask for "heißes wasser".

Some will do their own evening meals/others will have a deal with a near by hotel where you'll go in the evenings. Dinner time you can expect to be arounf 7:30/8:00 - basically time for you to get chucked out of the bar at the end of the apres ski party and stumble home for a shower and change Smile

And if you find the portions too small on the first night, well that's just another reason to stop of coffee and cake between ski and apres ski. Nothing like a huge, dense sponge ball in a custard lake to keep you going!
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They're great. Where I stay, there's a big breakfast buffet and a 4-6 course dinner starting with a salad bar. So not much need for lunch on the hill, just a cup of soup or something. Some hotels have dinner all at one time; others give you a range where you can show at your leisure during that timeframe. You make your dinner choices at breakfast...there's a form waiting at your table (they typically have a table for you for the duration of your stay). It's great; I don't miss having to find places to eat and hope I can get a reservation at the right time, etc. I don't make lunch out of breakfast stuff, I think that's cheesy except for the last, travel day. Then I ask and they always say "of course". The quality has always been plenty good, not outstanding but not paying for outstanding either. Its a very relaxed and fun way to travel; I was reluctant at first but now I prefer it.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Thanks all. I'm sold on the idea. I mentioned pension in my OP but small hotel/guest house/chalet I guess are interchangeable. Just need to convince Mrs H

Skiing in Austria appears to be a different vibe to France that I suspect will be a hit with the adult sons. @Mjit, that whole stumbing from apres ski to dinner sounds perfect Laughing
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
They're great. Where I stay, there's a big breakfast buffet and a 4-6 course dinner starting with a salad bar.


Sounds special - may I ask what resort/pension you stay at? (unless you're keen to keep it a secret)
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We're off to Austria for the first time in March. Our hotel has a five-course menu apparently (excl. salad buffet); I've not had five courses in my life. I can barely handle three.
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@Halitosis, in Zillertal I stay at the Tuxertal, and in Serfaus at Das Köhle.
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Food is fine. As above you might be fed dinner at another (often family owned) restaurant or catered for on the premises. Expect the usual - schnitzel, groestl, meat and potato or spatzl
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Minor point but can be a bit annoying: you won't get free water with meals in Austria, even if you're buying their wine with the meal and would just like a glass of tap water as well.
If you ask for tap water while you're eating they will either politely but firmly refuse, or charge you a few euros a glass.
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@Halitosis, in my days of regularly skiing in St Anton & Mayerhofen I generally used pensions. Great value and, with one exception, extremely friendly and generous. The one exception was once in Mayerhofen where the owner was, erm, somewhat formidable (aka Fräulein Dreadful). Even then it was great value, we were just terrified of her.
Not sure you’re familiar with the concept of an Austrian twin room. It isn’t. It’s a double bed with two single duvets. The traditional saunas are a giggle though, if you’re not shy.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@peerless ploughman, never been charged for cold tap water in Austria or refused it. Ask for leitungswasser
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
peerless ploughman wrote:
Minor point but can be a bit annoying: you won't get free water with meals in Austria, even if you're buying their wine with the meal and would just like a glass of tap water as well.
If you ask for tap water while you're eating they will either politely but firmly refuse, or charge you a few euros a glass.
t's

I've had that as well. It's expected you'll buy drinks so a fairly nominal charge for the server's efforts if you don't seems not outrageous. Last summer it was 1 or 2 dobs for a small carafe with dinner so not worth getting too excited about though in my logic that makes my Weissbier those dobs cheaper.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Dr John wrote:
Not sure you’re familiar with the concept of an Austrian twin room. It isn’t. It’s a double bed with two single duvets.


Ah, the joys of the Austrian twin bed. All the disadvantages of a double bed witout the advantages of two singles Eh oh!

Not always a double mattress/2 single duvets. I've had them whete they are 2 single mattress/duvets...in the one, fixed, solid wood bed frame too. So all the disadvantage of a 1 inch gap between the mattress too!

Fine sharing with friends/family and just part of the 'cultural differences' side of the holiday. Bit weird sharing with a stranger though.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@holidayloverxx, also never paid for water, like you say if you ask in German you get it, in English they likely think you are fair game and will maybe try it. I actually refused to take it on one occasion and they laughed and gave me free!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I haven’t stayed in a pension for several years but most have websites giving a fair idea of what to expect. I remember going to one in Lech because I was fascinated to find out what Google translate meant by “sensible cooked fish with crunchy parts from outside” - the food was excellent. Some have a bar area where you can sit, drink, play cards etc & some just have the restaurant. I haven’t been to one recently because it hasn’t fitted in with my skiing plans, not because of a bad experience.
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@Halitosis, once you have been to Austria I doubt you will go back to France! Half the price and twice the fun if you like a drink or 2. Saalbach is amazing I’m off in early January for my 20th visit, been Obertauren twice and it’s good but much smaller, likely more snow sure early season, however Saalbach has brilliant snow making so as long it is cold enough in the next few weeks you will be fine. Pensions are great.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

in English they likely think you are fair game and will maybe try it.

So gastfreundlich!
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Quote:
Once you have been to Austria I doubt you will go back to France! Half the price and twice the fun if you like a drink or 2
Yes, a completely different holiday experience. Austrian après ski is unbeatable, for young and old. Having said that, there are plenty of us who absolutely love Austria but also love skiing in France, Italy, Switzerland...or anywhere at all with snow. It's just great to try new places Very Happy
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Some mixing up is going on here
You don't get a 4-6 course menu in a Pension! A 4-6 course menu at least is a "Gasthof", but more likely a proper "Hotel"
Half-Pension means halfboard, but in general the word pension is reserved for a place that does breakfast only. (although there are still a few Pensions doing a simple, Austrian, mostly 3 course dinner)
An Austrian curiosity is the "Hotel-Garni" which is a luxury ***/**** bed and breakfast, no dinner
Oh and in Zürs (near Lech) there are still a couple of very old-fashioned 5***** hotels serving full-board (voll-pension), including lunch and dinner that is...
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Langerzug, all the pensions I’ve stayed in since 1970 have been 1/2 board.


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Sat 18-11-23 20:47; edited 1 time in total
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Where's flangesax (who owns a pension) when you need them?
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Time for a poll. NehNeh
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
The things I love about Austria include the food, the coffee and the hospitality. This list is only the 1st 3 things that spring to mind.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Gordyjh, coffee?really? Rarely have a decent cup
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@holidayloverxx, it beats the tea though. Never order the ‘tea’ Laughing
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Scarlet wrote:
@holidayloverxx, it beats the tea though. Never order the ‘tea’ Laughing


Though I've heard mint tea is very good for @Halitosis wink snowHead
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Scarlet, I would never order tea anywhere
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have only been to a Pension once and that was well over 30 years ago in Ellmau...And was a somewhat strange experience.

Our little group consisted of myself, Lady F and her younger sister. Having been left off at the door, we were welcomed by our Austrian host, who looked to be in his early 30s, was a little on the short, stocky side, with dark hair, unshaven and wearing a dishevelled suit. Right from the off, we realised he was decidedly odd - in fact I don't think the lift went all the way to the top.

He showed us to our rooms. My Sister-in-Law was ushered into a light, spacious room, where she immediately unpacked. Just after she had put everything away, he arrived up and said she was in the wrong room and took her (muttering expletives) to her correct room, which was a small, windowless single.

Our room was perfectly pleasant, but the top part of the window was stuck open, so I asked for his help to shut it. He appeared with a ladder, which I held steady as he went up to rattle and shake the offending pane into submission. As he ascended, I got a strong unwashed smell.

The rooms had basins but didn't have ensuite facilities. There was a main bathroom and a separate loo, which staggeringly had a glass door!

As others have said, his main job was to get us breakfast - as our evening meal was taken in a little restaurant about 5 minutes walk away. On the first morning, when we came down to breakfast we were greeted with the same strong pervasive smell of BO that I had witnessed the day before. As the week went on, we realised that he often slept in the dining room, in the same clothes as he wore during the day.

My Folks, Sister and her Boyfriend were in the same area, but in a Pension over in Soll...and their host was a delightful Austrian lady. They wanted to arrange to meet up, so tried to ring us. The phone was answered by our host, who they couldn't make head nor tail of - so let their host have a go. She didn't fare much better, but did eventually make some headway. On hanging up, she commented that he was very strange indeed.

My Sister-in-Law had booked morning lessons and had an interesting Instructor, who regularly took his small class of timid Beginners behind a stone building, got out his flask and gave them all a swig of its contents, which was some of local rocket fuel. They really must have been bad!

Anyway, aside from the unpleasant Breakfast aroma, the rest of the holiday went well.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Markymark29 wrote:
if you ask [for tap water] in German you get it, in English they likely think you are fair game and will maybe try it.


I think you'd have to clarify which resort(s) you've experienced that attitude in as mine's been quite the opposite. I've been to Ischgl many times which isn't a very bright dot on the British skiing radar but is/or at least was in the second case on the German and Russian ones. As a result hospitality staff didn't have many experiences with dick British visitors but had plenty with dick Germans and Russians. It is always fun to see the expression on their faces change when they first turn to you from a table being drunk and obnoxious, hear you terrible attempts at polite German and discover you some of those nice people from Britain.

Hope a valley to a more Brit. popular resort and they'll have had the opportunity to experience more Brits and so more dick British visitors, which inevitably colours there attitude to all Brits.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Gordyjh, then you will confirm that 6 courses in a pension is very rare. And you probably also noticed that nowadays there are fewer (halfboard)pensions than 50 years ago...
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