When booking this Montafon ski holiday in Austria I was looking for varied slopes, good off-piste, lovely accommodation and lively apres. Read this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns to find out whether it ticked all the boxes.
Getting to Montafon
During this Montafon ski holiday in Austria we stayed at the lovely Four Star Superior Löwen Hotel in Schruns. We flew into Zurich and caught a train to Schruns which took about two and a half hours – including changing in Bludenz. Unlike in the UK, the trains were stress free, uncrowded, clean and had plenty of room.
From Schruns train station it is a five minute walk to the hotel. It’s worth noting that they provide free transfers to and from the station. So if you are traveling with kids, the weather is bad, you have a lot of luggage or just don’t fancy finding your own way give them a call and they will collect you.
When arriving for this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns the welcome was warm and friendly, and the receptionists offered to show us around. My first impressions of the hotel were very good, with beautiful decor and a really nice vibe.
Review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns
Everything about the four star superior Löwen Hotel is stunning. The food and spa are all some of the best I have experienced in a hotel and our room was exceptionally good.
From reception to bar to restaurant the staff were friendly and genuinely eager for you to have a good time. The main bar, dining area and communal areas all have an up market feel – even the boot room was more than just a place to put your ski gear.
In addition to the very comfy twin beds our bedroom had a sofa and small table for relaxing. The room was luxurious but functional. They make good use of the space so it felt roomy – a bonus as my roommate during this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns was very untidy!
The bathroom was lovely with a powerful shower, good extractor fan and plenty of space. The decoration throughout was top quality and everything was well maintained.
Spa at the Lowen Hotel
This review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns would not be complete without talking about the 3000m² spa. It is simply out of this world and one of the best I have ever visited within a hotel.
There is a large pool with various ways to relax including a whirlpool and massage jets. There is also a large outdoor jacuzzi, it is much warmer than the pool and was incredible to relax in with the air temperature at minus 25!
There is a large sauna area that includes steam baths, stone baths, parlour sauna and even a brine steam room. The range of showers was very impressive – including a bucket of freezing cold water you can tip over yourself. There is even a lady-spa and a relaxation area with water beds.
Review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns: Food
Although the spa was amazing, my highlight during this Montafon ski holiday in Austria was the food. At the Löwen Hotel they have an imaginative and varied menu that will please foodies. Every dish was stunningly presented and absolutely delicious. Even the vegetarian in our group was very impressed.
Dinner consisted of around seven courses, with meat, fish and veggie options. The dishes were a mix of international, mountain specialities and traditional Austrian. The food appeared delicate and artistic but every meal was hearty – perfect for replacing the energy used skiing or snowboarding.
As always breakfast in Austrian was fantastic. There was an incredible amount of choice of meats, cheeses, fruit, juices, cereals, cakes and pastries etc, plus plenty of hot options. I visited the Omelette station each day to get a lovely fresh omelette made to my specifications.
Montafon ski holiday in Austria
Montafon isn’t a very well known resort in the UK. But it’s a popular for Dutch, Swiss and German visitors, and of course with Austrians. Nestled away in Vorarlberg – Austria’s westernmost region – Montafon is made up of 11 villages.
The ski area offers a whopping 295 km of slopes much of which is over 2000m. The pistes are not all lift linked, however, there are free and reliable buses between them. The largest area, with 140 km of lift-linked piste, is Silvretta Montafon. Stay in Schruns, St Gallenkirch, Gortipohl, Gaschurn or Silbertal for easy access.
During a Montafon ski holiday in Austria, its also worth visiting Gargellen, Golm or Brandnertal. All are big enough to entertain advanced skiers or snowboarders for a few days and even longer if you are a beginner or intermediate. The Montafon ski pass also includes a few small ski areas with just one or two lifts.
Review of Montafon ski holiday in Schruns
During this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns I was looking for great slopes, good freeride, nice accommodation, and decent apres. The hotel was fabulous, but did Montafon also delivered on the slopes?
My first impression of the ski area was not particularly good. The Hochjoch bahn gondola was very busy, we waited at least 15 minutes the first time – although it was a saturday during school holidays. But in general there was always a bit of a wait.
You also change gondolas halfway, and with everyone packed like sardines it was a bit of pain, although you only shuffle across a few metres. Once the queueing is out of the way it is a fairly quick journey up to the ski area. Plus you only have to do it once each day.
The gondola brings you out to is the main hub for the Schruns side of the ski area with bars, restaurants and a few lifts and runs all converging at the same place. Understandably it was pretty busy as was the run down to the Panorama Gondola.
Of the lifts on the mountain the only time we queued was for the Panorama Gondola. But the queue moves quickly and the lift even quicker, taking you to 2375m on hardly no time. At the top it is narrow and busy, but everyone spreads out on a range of slopes so you can easily escape the crowds during a Montafon ski holiday in Austria.
Despite negative first impressions during this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns they soon changed. The well-maintained pistes are wide, plentiful and a lot of fun with lots of off-piste options including marked itinerary runs.
Review of skiing Schruns side of Silvretta Montafon
We spent a day and a half exploring the Schruns side of Silvretta Montafon where you’ll find some excellent long runs. From Hochalpila, you can descend 1740m all the way back into Schruns on a long and varied run. There is lots of between piste off-piste near the top and tree lined runs towards the bottom.
The section below the main hub and down into Schruns is fast and a lot of fun. It is fairly quiet and the slopes are wide and mellow near the top, but narrower and steeper lower down. It is a great fun home run and was a highlight of this Montafon ski holiday in Austria.
Another great run is the black from the top of Sennigrat at 2300m which is probably the steepest piste on this side of Silvretta Montafon. It is fairly wide and usually empty, it links up with the home run back to Schruns at 690m. All over the mountain there are great slopes and lots of variety.
Snowpark Montafon is also found on the Schruns side of the ski area via the Freda Bahn chairlift. We lapped the park and its impressive range of features quite a few times.
There are two options in Snowpark Montafon that are both excellent. A typical freestyle area with standard kickers, rails and boxes for varied levels. Plus a Freeride Cross course with many interesting features that you can use to get creative, be sure to run through before hitting features as some are bigger than they appear.
There is a huge amount of variety and it would take at least four runs to hit all the features in Snowpark Montafon. As freestyle areas go it’s one of the most imaginative I have experienced and you could easily spend the day lapping it. Another highlight of the review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns.
Freeride in Schruns
Also accessed from the Freda Chairlift is a freeride itinerary where we found powder despite it last snowing four or five days earlier. There is a lot of terrain to be enjoyed, most of it fairly easy but there are a few small cliffs. It ends in a fairly tame couloir, that had become icy and challenging because everyone exits that way.
A little way down from the Panorama Bahn we tried another freeride itinerary which is reached by heading straight rather than taking the pistes off to the left. It was facing the sun and not only was it tracked out but had melted and then refrozen making it very tough. But in good snow it would be excellent.
In the area below the Hochalpila chair heading towards the tunnel we found nice powder along the edges of the pistes. There is also a really good itinerary from the top of Sennigrat towards the tunnel.
From the top of Sennigrat you can also head the opposite direction for a long off-piste itinerary that eventually joins the run into Schruns. Unfortunately it was closed during this Montafon ski holiday in Austria as it looks excellent.
Review of Gargellen freeride
On day three of this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns we caught the bus to Gargellen and met an off-piste guide from Bergfuehrer Montafon. The bus was free and the journey from Schruns to Gargellen took about 30 minutes.
The temperature had dropped into the minus twenties, so we were wearing plenty of extra layers. We sorted out avalanche transceiver and safety gear then headed up the main gondola, followed by taking the Gargellner Kopfe chairlift up to 2300m.
From here you can ski tour or splitboard up to 2700m for some amazing backcountry routes back to Gargellen. Unfortunately we didn’t have any splitboarding gear, so instead we went to the far right (left hand side of the piste map) of the ski area.
To be honest the snow here was tracked out and icy. We found the odd bit of powder but it was hard going – although it was good to be away from the piste. In fresh snow this 1000m decent would be epic!
After taking the main gondola again we caught the Kristall chairlift up to 2300m to try the other side of the ski area. Yet again our guide told us of the many wonderful options in the backcountry if you are ski touring or splitboarding.
Instead we took the blue piste and soon launched off the side into surprisingly nice powder. It was around five days since the last snow and still not tracked out. Our guide lead us to various north facing slopes via blind summits, traverses and some chutes. It was the kind of riding you don’t do unless you know the way.
He found us relatively untouched powder and the best freeride in this Montafon ski holiday in Austria. It wasn’t too tracked out and despite becoming heavier lower down it was a lot of fun. We lapped the area five times taking many different routes – a great example of why you should get a guide.
Skiing St Gallenkirch side of Montafon
On day four of this review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns we headed over to the St Gallenkirch side of Silvretta Montafon. This is reached by taking the Grasjoch gondola – which is found near the Freda lift to the snowpark – down into St Gallenkirch.
From St Gallenkirch you take a gondola up giving access to an area that is a bit bigger than the Scruns side of the Silvretta Montafon. There’s lots of very obvious off-piste between the runs, but this was tracked out and very icy so it was off the menu.
But the pistes were in good condition, pretty hard and in some spots icy but well pisted and a lot of fun. There are some really wide blue and red pistes that were a pleasure for carving. Plus the school holidays had ended and it was midweek, so the slopes were much quieter.
I think the St Gallenkirch side of Silvretta Montafon is more suited to beginners and intermediates who like to cruise around. There are a lot of shorter runs and most of the reds were relatively easy. There are also a couple of challenging blacks and some longer runs down into St Gallenkirch.
It takes quite a while to get from St Gallenkirch ski area back to Schruns. We are all fast skiers and snowboarders and it took over an hour, if you are slow I would allow a couple of hours. However you can take the bus which is free and punctual and probably the best option for beginners and slow intermediates.
Review of apres ski in Schruns
This review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns would not be complete without talking about the apres, which was surprisingly good during this Montafon ski holiday in Austria. Most of this group were the wrong side of 40, so beers straight off the slopes were a higher priority than all night partying.
Fortunately the Urmonti Apres Ski bar delivers exactly this. You’ll find it at the bottom of the run into Schruns – you’ll hear the beats before you see it. Everyday of our trip it was packed with revellers bouncing to the Austrian Oompah tunes from three in the afternoon.
Despite not understanding the MC or lyrics Austrian Oompah music is infectiously fun. It combines Austrian, Dutch and German party anthems with a DJ/MC egging the crowd on. It was so good we visited three times during this Montafon ski holiday in Austria!
It is a really fun sociable crowd, who have been lubricated by litre steins and trays of shots. We got talking to groups visiting from Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We only met a couple of British people and they were from Zurich.
The best thing about Urmonti is that it’s banging from around three until six. Then it slowly calms down and shuts at about half past seven. You then stumble back to your hotel chanting Austrian Oompah songs with plenty of time to have a shower before dinner.
If you are looking for nightclubs and late night fun then Schruns is pretty tame. The bars were all fairly quiet in the evenings, and the only late night venue is a lap dancing place called the Blue Moon. But this meant we were in bed before midnight each evening and pretty much hangover free every day.
Montafon ski holiday in Austria: Conclusion
This review of Lowen Hotel in Schruns was an absolute pleasure both on and off the mountain. This four star superior hotel is one of the nicest I have stayed in with fabulous food, stunning spa and luxurious living. Even if you do not stay there I recommend you visit for a meal one night.
On the mountain there are a lot of slopes to explore across different areas. There are really fun options right on your doorstep with great off-piste itineraries and between piste freeride, there is also a very good snowpark. There is ample backcountry, great beginner areas and good transport linking it all together.
And the cherry on the cake is banging apres that finishes early so you avoid a hangover. If you want late night partying it’s not the resort for you, but if you want beers straight off the slope with a fun and sociable crowd it is hard to beat.
To conclude this review of Montafon ski holiday in Austria I will quote my friend ‘we should come back to Schruns next year’. Although I have been to Austria many times it was my first time with this group as we usually go to France, but we have already booked to return to Austria again this coming winter.