Hotel-Gasthof zur Schönen Aussicht***

St. Johann, Austria

“Just one more bend up the mountain” – explain your hosts and they’re quite right. The hotel lies a little above the village of St. Johann in Tirol, up on the mountain, deep in the forest. It adjoins a meadow on which cows have a lovely time in the summer and people of all sizes romp about in the snow on their skis and boards in the winter.

Up here both the valley and the skies open out, which lifts everyone’s spirits. The massif of the Wilder Kaiser is, of course, the focus of everyone’s thoughts and dreams up here, especially when the sun is shining. It’s simply just there, everyone’s point of reference.

The views from almost all the hotel’s windows and door are, putting it mildly, lovely or rather - impressive, overwhelming, and fascinating. Which raises the question of how, in such dominating surroundings, can the interior décor be designed to match them?

Elisabeth Grander, the hotel’s second-generation director, thought about this for ages. For two whole years she collected images and ideas, jotting down impressions, colours, shapes and names. Often she worked on the principle of what not to have, as the list of what she certainly didn’t want in the hotel grew longer and longer. She and her family took their time to develop a vision for the hotel’s ambience, which had to be such that their many regular guests would still feel at home after its renovation.

“It became clearer and clearer to me that it’s people who make our hotel happy and colourful. We don’t need any loud colours, checks or other decorative devices. Anyway, it’s nature herself coming through the windows who plays the starring role inside the hotel”. It was a natural decision to have lots of plain fabrics and to go, in particular, for the loden cloths that are woven up in the Alps.

The combination of modern, linear shapes, fresh colours and traditional fabrics creates exactly the atmosphere Elisabeth Grander wanted. Her guests agree entirely, describing it as “relaxed, calm, just like home” – that’s how they feel in the refurbished hotel.

The furnishing store Aufschnaiter (from St. Johann) and the experienced planning bureau “Wohnkultur” (from Kirchberg) were perfect partners when it came to designing and implementing the refurbishment. The fine fabrics were love at first sight and, what’s more, love that endures as – eighteen months and a whole winter season after the major renovation – they all still look almost like new. “The fabrics have to survive everyday use and weather all sorts of marks and stains. They stood up very well to the challenges of the skiing season.”

The years of pondering have paid off and the trick has worked. The hotel strikes a wonderful balance between the inside and the outside and between stunning views and clever insights into people’s hearts, souls and feelings.