Insider’s guide to Saalbach ski resort including the best après-ski hotspots

I’m hurtling down an Austrian mountain on a sledge in almost pitch black with only my feet as brakes.

It’s an epic and exhilarating ride which I can only describe as like real life Mario Kart and I can’t stop laughing.

Maybe I’m laughing in the face of death as I know that one wrong move around a corner could bring to an abrupt end my adventure.

Or it’s the half bottle of wine and several jäger bombs I consumed before starting the three-kilometre course down the natural toboggan run.

Either way I’m loving it and after some hairy moments we’re all safely down the bottom of the mountain.

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Our after-dinner fun was all part of the dining experience at Saalbach’s Spielberghaus nestled in the Austrian alps which starts before you even set foot through their door.

You take a snowcat shuttle up to the restaurant at 1,311m through an idyllic winter landscape.

There you're welcomed inside the cosy traditional Austrian restaurant serving hearty home cooked food.

We warmed ourselves up with a meat and cheese fondue platter followed by a selection of local dishes before taking our toboggans down back to our base for the next few days – Hotel Saalbacher Hof.

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The hotel is ideally located right in the heart of Saalbach and just 2 minutes walk from three main lifts with its basement boot and ski room.

The hotel was refurbished a few years back and still looks new.  

It has a huge rooftop spa, with impressive views and an indoor pool as part of its wellness centre.  

My room with a balcony was spacious and spotless with large wet-room and power shower to soothe my aching muscles after a days' skiing.

The restaurant was fantastic with choices for each course and special meals made by the chef when I couldn't eat anything on the menu due to my severe food allergies.

Underneath the hotel is nightclub 'Castello' where the Allstars band will rock you every day with a state-of-the-art sound system consisting of 36 speakers – assembled by Europe’s leading sound artists doing their finest homework making sure you won't hear a thing when you're back in your room for some shut eye.

Saalbach is home to the Skicircus but you won't see a clown in sight.

It's the name given to the 270 kilometres of ski slopes linking Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang and Fieberbrunn and means even the keenest skier will not get bored.

Beginners, families and experts can use 140 km blue, 112 km red and 18 km of black slopes to get around and they are served by one of the slickest lift systems in the world with some even having heated seats!

We hired a guide for the day to show us around the Skicircus.

As the weakest skier in the group I was worried about being left behind but patient guide JP gave us all excellent 1-1 tuition during the day and gave me confidence to tackle my first black run.

After a couple of days hitting the slopes hard it was time to take a break and rest our achy limbs with a visit to Europe's highest tree-top trail situated at the end of the Saalbach-Hinterglemm valley.

The one kilometre tree-top trail starts at the Lindlingalm and includes the 200 metre long, 42 metre high “Alpine Golden Gate Bridge” which spans a valley, in which the source of river Saalbach flows.

The panoramic views across the mountains and over the high-rope park are just breathtaking. After taking in the magic we jumped in a horse-drawn carriage to be whisked back to base.

If you fancy more of an adrenaline rush then head to Snowmobil City where you can jump on a bike and race around the 500m track pretending you're James Bond being chased down the mountains by Blofeld's henchmen.

There are plenty of places for lunch on the mountain for all budgets. We tried the new Montana Royal Alpine Club which had only just opened.

Located at the top of the Kohlmaisbahn with views overlooking the town of Saalbach you can enjoy the club's signature dish of suckling pig grill and even watch it being cooked in the glass cockpit grill while taking in the 360 panoramic mountain views.

A little further afield and situated at the foot of the Leogang mountains and right next to a ski run is the five star Naturhotel Forsthofgut where you can refuel and relax in absolute luxury.

If you’re into your apres ski then you’ve come to the right place. The Austrians know how to party even if it is 2pm in the afternoon.

We visited the Hinterhag Alm where the local band play foot stomping tunes on a balcony overlooking the main dance floor which very quickly turns into one big singalong including the famous Johnny Depp song. As the wine and beer flow don’t be surprised to see people dancing on the tables.

Another bar worth stopping off at is the Goasstall or Goat Bar. As one fellow skier put it CAUTION! Don’t arrive too early and don’t leave too late!

Here you will find the craziest, fun and friendly party on the mountain. But beware, when all the fun is over you still need to be able to get down to the bottom of the mountain a few hundred metres away.

The most sensible way is by foot but most attempt the short trip on skis and the results can be hilarious!

* From December 7 skiers visiting Saalbach will have even more pistes to try out with the opening of the zellamseeXpress connecting Zell am See’s Schmittenhöhe ski area and Viehhofen in the Glemm Valley.

Here a 5km bus takes skiers to lifts for Saalbach linked to Hinterglemm, Leogang and Fieberbrunn.  In the other direction, a 7.5km blue piste from the top of Saalbach’s Polten chairlift runs directly down to Viehhofen and the zellamseeXpress.

Want to book the holiday?

Andy stayed at the Saalbacherhof as a guest of the Saalbach and Salzburgerland Tourist Boards and Crystal Ski Holidays.

Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s half-board (two sharing; departure January 11th 2020) at the 5* Saalbacher hof in Saalbach from £995 per person. Price includes flights from London Gatwick to Salzburg and transfers.  Direct flights also available from major UK airports. Saalbach is 1 hr 15 minutes’ drive from Salzburg Airport.

Lift passes:  1-day = €55 per adult ; 6-day = €263 (discounts for children and teens) – for full details click here.

Equipment hire: from Skifürst (discounts for children and teens).

Ski Guide:

Full Day – 10:00-15:30 hrs €244 (low season) €264 (high season) for tuition/guiding  for 1-2 people and €25 for each additional person (up to 8 skiers)

Half-day – 09:00-12:00 hrs or 12:30-15:30 hrs €154 (low season) €174 (high season) for tuition/guiding  for 1-2 people and €18 for each additional person (up to 8 skiers)


Snowmobiling at Snow mobile city. €25 per person per 25 minutes (€60 x 30 mins €120 x 60 mins. Price includes instruction; piste basher driving also available.

Alpine Golden Gate Bridge Entry is €9 per adult / €6 per child (4-15 years)

Sleigh ride from Golden Gate Bridge costs €15 per at Lindlingalm adult / €9 per child (3-12 years).

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