Since the very beginning of our trip, David and I hoped to spend the holidays cozied up in a mountain chalet in the Alps. Finding a ski-in-ski-out cabin was a lot harder than expected, and while we knew they existed from our October road trip through the Alps, we later learned that most of these cabins are family owned and very few are offered for rent. We ended up doing most of our searches in German, and finally found the perfect spot in Brixen im Thale near the popular ski resort town of Kitzbühel. We felt so fortunate to be able to spend the week between Christmas and New Years in such a quaint spot, baking gingerbread cookies and sipping mulled wine by the fire, not to mention waking up to the most incredible views and being able to hop on our skis and race down the mountain each morning, making first tracks on the trail in search of an adventure!
We arrived in Austria on Christmas Eve, and much too early to check in. So we made our way over to the quaint town of Kitzbühel to tour the Christmas market, grab a hot chocolate, and peek into the few shops that were open that day. At noon we met our hosts. The owner of a mountain lodge and our little hut (affectionately called the “Wieshütte”), Frank, and his son Leopold, greeted us at the base and helped guide us into the proper ski rentals and mountain passes. From there, Leopold stuck around to “show us to the cabin”, a process that ended up taking a couple of hours! Since we had to ski everything in, we could only take the essentials with us on each run. So, David grabbed the Christmas tree, and I filled one of Leopold’s mountain backpacks full of our groceries. We set aside a few items of clothing as well.
We arrived at the cabin, and it couldn’t have been more perfect! With sweeping views of the valley below from almost every room , we didn’t know whether we’d be able to pull ourselves away to ski. Just across from the cabin was a shed housing dry wood for us to use in the stove to heat the cabin. Leopold showed us the family schnapps, and offered a toast to welcome us to the Wieshütte.
Once we had skied in all our supplies, we had time for one more run down the mountain, before the sun set. We came back up, poured mugs of mulled wine and watched the last skiers slip down the mountain. After a little while, we were left alone on top of the world to watch the twinkling lights of the villages in the valley below. We decorated the tree, and listened to some of our favorite Christmas carols before preparing a hearty fondue dinner (yes, our chalet even had a fondue pot!). In Austria and Germany, it’s traditional to have the primary Christmas celebration on the 24th. Families decorate their tree, sing, and open presents this day. We decided that we’d do the same thing, and exchanged our gifts to each other. We have a tradition of giving and receiving new Christmas pajamas each year, and I had secretly shipped some cozy flannel pajamas to our hotel in Sweden, while David had picked up a pair of pearl earrings for me while in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
The next 4 days were spent on the slopes enjoying sparkling blue skies, constant sunshine and temperatures in the 40s. We got the SkiWelt Pass which enabled us to explore over 284 km of pistes, 90 lifts, and 77 quaint huts, many of which have wonderful loungers scattered around the building perfect for aprés ski people watching with a drink. Our favorite little restaurant, named Holzalm, was a short distance from our cabin and had a row of tables along the deck that looked out over the mountaintops. We kept returning for hearty stews, and traditional dishes like Tiroler Gröstl, a delicious beef and potatoes dish topped with a fried egg. One day we made it our goal to ski all the way back to Kitzbühel and even though we were on the slopes by 8am, it took all day to ski there, perhaps in part due to the incredible vistas we’d see with each new mountain, and we both kept stopping to take pictures.
When our week drew to a close we still felt like there were so many more mountains and restaurants to explore, and hope we’ll be back soon (perhaps with friends since the Wieshütte sleeps six!) You can find the Wieshütte here, and they just put it up on Airbnb as well here.
Thanks to Leopold, Frank and your whole family for hosting us and making it a Christmas to remember!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com