Looking for a luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites? These stunning mountains have more than their fair share of top quality hotels. Find out how my wife and I got on in this review of Adler Hotel in Ortisei, Italy.
The Dolomites are part of the Alps in Northern Italy on the border with the Tirol region of Austria. It is a stunningly beautiful mountain range, looking very different to the rest of the Alps.
They are unique because the Dolomites are made from an erosion resistant sedimentary carbonate rock called dolomite (clues in the name!). This leads to sheer peaks rising out of alpine plateaus. The rock formations are stunning and the entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you have never visited this part of Northern Italy it is highly recommended. Many have called it the most beautiful mountain range in the world. In the winter there is excellent skiing and snowboarding in the Dolomites. In summer the area is just as popular with hikers and bikers.
The area is also known as South Tyrol and has a mix of Italian, German and Ladin populations. As you move from one valley to another the main language changes as does the food and architecture.
My wife and I visited Val Gardena in September for this review of Adler Hotel in Ortisei. Val Gardena includes the towns of Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei. It is regarded as one of the prettiest areas of the Dolomites.
I had previously stayed at the Adler hotel for a mountain biking holiday in Val Gardena. So I knew the food was stunning, the hotel luxurious and spa incredible. I was looking forward to taking my wife there for some well deserved romance, relaxation and walking.
To get to Ortisei for this luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites we flew with British Airways from Heathrow to Innsbruck, Austria. From there is was about an hour and a half transfer. Alternatively we could have flown into Verona, Italy which is a slightly longer transfer.
During our stay we were hampered by some bad weather. But we still got out for one full day hike, a half day hike and a short walk. One day was a complete wash out – so we spent it in the spa!
We arrived in Ortisei in time for a lovely lunch at the Adler Hotel. Then we got changed into our hiking gear and headed up the mountain. The Rasciesa funicular is about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, we took that to the top and had a two hour hike.
Heading uphill from the top of the lift initially we were in woodland. It soon thinned out into a typical alpine environment or rock strewn fields, gushing streams and excellent views.
We walked to Capella Santa Croce Resciesa, a tiny little church that was originally used by shepherds. From the church you head up a steep track to a great view point.
From here we started to head back to the funicular by a different route. At first the path was through boulders but this soon become alpine meadows again. Towards the end we entered the sparse woodland and made it back to the lift just before it closed for the day.
The hike was around 6 km and took us two hours as we were ambling more than hiking. If you really wanted to you could probably do it in around half that time. But we stopped to take photos, to have a snack and to take in the lovely views.
After a day or torrential rain we were looking forward to getting this luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites back on the trail. The Adler Hotel runs guided hikes every day, so we joined them for a trek around Sassolungo.
There were around 20 to 25 hikers on the trip so we all jumped into a coach. It was a half an hour drive through Selva Val Gardena up to the base of the Sasso Levante lift above Plan de Gralba.
It was a sunny day and the views towards Sasso Lungo were stunning. We began by hiking around the base of the massif in an anticlockwise direction. At Rifugio Comici we stopped for a break, it is well worth a visit for the high-tech toilets alone, let alone the excellent food (I have eaten there when skiing).
Until the break the trails had been wide and easy but the path soon became more challenging. I was glad to have my trekking poles as the route was uneven and quite steep with lots of loose pebbles.
The trail descended into a forest area with a much wilder feel. At this point most of the path was single file with plenty of short technical sections that made it a lot of fun. At one point we crossed a scree slope above which you could see the ice of the small Sassolungo Glacier.
The walk up to our lunch stop at Rifugio Vicenza was the most difficult part of the day. It is a fairly steep climb to the little restaurant that is perched between the three Sassolungo peaks of Langkofel, Plattkofel and Grohmannspitze.
But it is well worth the effort. The busy rifugio is a very popular spot with great food. It is worth noting they don’t take card – there is no internet or phone reception – so ensure you take cash with you! We didn’t realise but the Alder guides lent us some cash…
After the welcome break, and with tummies full we set off back down the way we had come. But the path soon diverted from the route of our ascent. In the afternoon we mainly hiked downhill through woodland and across alpine meadows on wide enough trails to walk two or three abreast.
The guided hike ended near the base of the Monte Seura chairlift on the slopes above Santa Cristina where a coach was waiting. We had walked 14.5km and ascended 400m, so a very good days hiking.
On our final day we were not being collected until after lunch, so we set off for a walk. The weather had been a little mixed but we planned to head up Secada for a short hike at the top.
Unfortunately, the weather closed in on the way up the Secada gondola. At the top it was raining and the view consisted of lots of grey cloud. Having made the effort we went for a short walk in hope that the cloud might clear.
It didn’t. So we headed back down thinking that at the change of Gondola we could walk the last section back into Ortisei. But by then the rain was much heavier, so we headed back to the Adler hotel for a final visit to the spa.
While we were unlucky with the weather I felt we saw enough to be able to highly recommend a luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites. There are excellent marked trails criss crossing the beautiful mountains.
The daily Adler guided hikes are an amazing service. The guides are knowledgeable about the flora and fauna plus the history and geography of the area. It is all included in the price of your stay so make the most of the service to explore the area.
Of course this hiking trip to the Dolomites was not just about time spent in the outdoors. It was also about experiencing some luxury and pampering on a romantic break with my wife.
The Adler Dolomiti Hotel, is in the centre of Ortisei, an upmarket town in Val Gardena. It is a very impressive building from the outside, and equally so in the reception. The three story high room, massive staircase and beautiful decor really set the tone.
As do the reception staff who are friendly and very helpful. In fact throughout the Adler the staff seemed happy and were always on hand to offer assistance.
During this review of Adler Hotel in Ortisei, Italy we stayed in a standard double room. It was lovely, the decor and the general feel made us very comfortable. The bowl of fresh fruit was a very nice welcoming touch.
Our bed was huge and very comfortable. Although there were quite a few surplus pillows and blankets to get rid of before you turn in for the night!
In the bathroom there was a large double sink with plenty of room for all my wife’s stuff… The walk in shower had great water pressure and loads of different settings. There was no bath but with the onsite spa you didn’t really need one.
The spa at the Adler hotel is probably the best I have experienced anywhere. There are 3,500 m² set aside for holistic relaxation and regeneration. We spend most of the rainy day in there during this luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites.
The spa includes a large heated pool that goes from inside to outside, with waterfalls, jets and great views. There are a selection of saunas and steam rooms, jacuzzis and much more.
Using light, sound and scent there are various wellness therapies included in your stay. You need to book some of these in advance but there is a great selection of relaxing events you can get involved in.
In addition to this you can book treatments with the 25 person massage and beauty team. My wife had a massage that she felt was one of the best she has ever had. She works as a massage therapist in Newhaven so knows her stuff.
A review of Adler Hotel in Ortisei, Italy would not be complete without discussing the food. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are included and all are incredible. The timings of the different meals almost overlap so if you miss one another is never far away.
At breakfast I have never seen such a huge selection of high quality options. From the omelette station to health smoothies to crepes they have plenty of on-demand food.
And with a wide range of fruits, cereals, hot and cold options you won’t go hungry. The bread selection alone is huge and the help yourself honeycomb was a personal favourite.
Lunch is a buffet with soups and all the ingredients to make sandwiches even scooby doo would be proud of. There are a selection of hot dishes, pasta, rice etc and a lot of salads and sweet options. It is so good the main danger is you eat too much and ruin dinner.
But before you get to dinner there is also afternoon tea. This is aimed at those who have been out enjoying the trails. Afterall a luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites can make you very hungry.
So if you miss lunch, or are still hungry, you can choose from a selection of cold dishes. There is pasta, bread, meats and cheese plus some incredible cakes and pastries.
While all of this food is exceptional, during this review of Adler Hotel in Ortisei it was dinner that really excelled. You can expect a multitude of courses combining the South Tyrolean penchant for hearty food with spicy Mediterranean aromas.
Most nights I had more dishes than I care to admit – there is lots of variety catering for everyone from vegan or gluten free to dedicated meat eaters or pescatarians. Each evening has a different menu and you pick the dishes you’d like. Almost everything was delicious and beautifully presented.
Both my wife and I really enjoyed the food. But it is also worth mentioning the slow ambience that made each meal an event lasting most of the evening.
The Dolomites are a must visit for anyone who likes to spend time in the mountains. They are incredibly beautiful and the area provides many opportunities for outdoor adventure.
From hiking to biking, climbing to kayaking and relaxation to rejuvenation it is a wonderful destination. If you are into walking there are enough trails in the immediate area to keep you busy for weeks. And within a short drive there are even more to explore.
The Adler is an amazing hotel. I feel very lucky to have stayed their twice, and would return again at the drop of a hat!
Obviously all five star hotels are nice, but I feel the Adler goes a step beyond what is expected. It avoids being pretentious and is one of the friendliest most welcoming places I have ever stayed.
The food is incredible, the spa amazing and the rooms exceptionally comfortable. To conclude this review of Adler Hotel in Ortisei, Italy, I believe that if you are looking for a luxury hiking holiday in the Dolomites you can’t beat it.