Skiing in Solden
Believe it or not, despite having visited the Alps on numerous occasions, I had never skied on a mountain until January. It wasn’t until we booked this trip that I decided to visit Austria again without my snowboard!
After my last trip to St Anton in the winter, I left feeling a little bit disappointed with snowboarding. My confidence took a huge hit from that trip and I felt like I needed a bit of space from my snowboard (woah, deep).
That being said, I absolutely love the Alps in the winter and I was desperate to return this season. So we booked a trip to Solden in Austria, using Crystal Ski again. This time though, I was renting some skis and putting my newly honed skills (thanks Chill Factore!) to use. I was determined to gain back my confidence, eat lots of Austrian food and drink all the gluhwein in the process.
Where to stay in Solden
After absolutely loving our trip to St Anton last year with Crystal Ski, it was a no brainer that we were going to book with them again for another trip to Austria. Wanting to keep the costs down a little more but also valuing a snow-sure resort and the amazing hospitality of Austria, we opted for Solden in the Tirol region.
Like St Anton, Solden is known for its wild apres ski scene but at a slightly better price point. This time, we opted for a half board basis at our hotel, Hotel Erhart, in order to minimise the stress & cost of having to choose a place to eat every single night. This worked out really well as the food was pretty good and we never went hungry.
In the first week of January, we managed to get a good deal compared to even the week after and certainly compared to the more expensive month of February. Well worth being flexible with your timing to see when the best deals are! Solden isn’t as picture-perfect as St Anton, but if cost is a key factor then it’s a great alternative.
Hotel Erhart is a very traditionally styled Austrian hotel, with the most charming staff. They wore dirndls everyday (flashbacks to my summer in St Anton!) and greeted us with a glass of bubbly and some biscuits on our first day. Accommodation is pretty standard and includes the ridiculous Austrian twin beds, but our room was spacious and included a shared balcony. The hotel itself also had a sauna and boot/ski room to store your equipment.
One thing that’s worth noting is that Solden is more of a town than a village, so you will often find yourself having to hop on the free ski bus as the two main gondolas are positioned on either side of the town.
If you’re hiring skis and staying at Hotel Erhart, also be aware that Crystal Ski’s ski hire partner are located right on the other side of town. Although, the hotel are happy to shuttle you across when collecting/returning your hire.
Eating & Drinking in Solden
With our hotel being half board, we didn’t have to worry about scoping out the town too much. Sometimes it can be fun, but when you’ve had a long day of skiing, sometimes you just want someone to make decisions for you! My advice is always to book chalet board or half board, so you can spend your time searching for apres bars and avoid any hangry spells.
Despite Hotel Erhart being quite a traditional Austrian hotel inside, the food was always varied. We were treated to a welcome dinner on our first night, with five courses, and also had a very nice Italian-themed night later in the week.
When we did eat at other places in town, we really enjoyed Corso, Gusto (no, not the chain!) and Jati Bar. If you fancy something really special, you can head up the Gaislachkoglbahn to Ice Q, which is the super shiny building that you might recognise from the James Bond film, Spectre.
When on the hunt for some more traditional Austrian dishes, it’s best to head to the mountains. Solden has the standard mountain-top restaurants (usually a self-service affair) but also lots of charming mountain huts dotted about. They’re harder to find but that’s all part of the fun!
Our favourite find of the trip was Bratkartoffelhutte Goldegg Alm, located just off the Heidebahn chair lift via the ski route. You can see the comforting traditional Austrian food they serve in my photos above. Not much to look at but they tasted amazing! The hut is small & intimate and surrounded by peaceful alpine scenery, so well worth the slightly hairy ski down to reach it.
You can find out more about the numerous mountain huts & restaurants on the Solden tourist website here.
As for apres ski… we enjoyed lots of gluhwein and beer at s’Finale and Apres-Ski Philipp on the mountain and Schirm Bar in the town centre was popping right off until around 8pm. By that time, we were pretty apres’d out.
What’s the skiing like?
Well, I couldn’t reach the end of my blog post without discussing the most important bit – the skiing – could I? After my time in St Anton, I had realised that a lot of resorts are simply more suited to skiers than snowboarders. Solden was the same really, there’s plenty for snowboarders to tackle and if you’re confident on your snowboard, there really isn’t a problem. For me though, I felt relieved to be tackling the pistes of Solden on my skis!
At the start of the trip I was very shaky and my technique was really awful, but with Mat by my side, helping me to push myself even when I was throwing a minor tantrum, I soon improved. In Austria, you’ll often find that some of the blue (beginner) runs are actually much harder than some of the red (intermediate) runs. So don’t let the colour put you off too much, each run has smooth parts and challenging parts.
Some of my favourite runs were the blue 38 (time-consuming to reach but worth it), the long blue 8 down to the resort and the red 3. You also need to try the funslope, which I think was at the top of blue 15. It has some small jumps, bumps and a tunnel. If you’re a little nervous, you can ski past them on your first run and build up to each obstacle throughout the holiday. It’s such a fun challenge, even if you do end up on your ass!
My run to avoid? Definitely the end of the black 22, which ends rather abruptly at the Giggijoch gondola station. It’s a very steep finish, which was a nightmare especially when it had iced up quite a lot. I didn’t cry though, so at least there’s that!
Give my travel vlog above a watch to see the highlights from our trip and to witness the very gradual improvement in my sking. Oh and there’s me & Mat riding a potato too. When in Austria, eh?
Overall though, we both really enjoyed our trip to Solden. It’s great if you can’t quite afford the more expensive Austrian resorts, it has a great snow record and plenty of good runs for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers. The town itself isn’t as picture-perfect as some ski resorts, but if you’re after a lively resort, it’s got some seriously good apres vibes.
If you’d like to check out some of the deals Crystal Ski are currently offering for Solden, you can find last minute or next season deals on their site here.
Disclosure: I was provided with a discount on my booking with Crystal Ski without obligation to post and all thoughts & opinions are my very own. I’ve holidayed with them twice now and would highly recommend them to anyone looking to book a ski holiday, which is why I’m happy to share my experiences.
Have you visited anywhere snowy this season? Let me know where in the comments below!