I was invited to visit Alpen Palace which is located in the stunning German-speaking province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. It is set against the foot of the magnificent Dolomites, with views of Medieval pointed churches and alpine chalets. The region actually feels more like Austria, than Italy.
Having heard great things about the gluten free food from the lovely Loriley Sessions,
it sounded like the perfect minibreak.
And it was. The incredible scenery, the local hiking, the insanely beautiful views from the outdoor pool & Jacuzzi, Italian aperitivo and amazing food & service all made for a brilliant trip. A few days soaking up the fresh air and alpine life is good for the soul.
If you make Alpen Palace aware that you are following a strict gluten free (GF) diet ahead of the trip, you don’t even need to give it a second thought. At every meal there was a basket of freshly baked GF bread waiting for me and a special GF menu printed out.
The GF knowledge was exceptional and I really didn’t miss out on a single thing.
The vibe at Alpen Palace is really relaxed. Being a wellness hotel (it has a fantastic spa with a number of saunas, special baths, treatment rooms etc) most people lounge around in white bath robes, soaking up the surroundings. Mealtimes are a little more formal and dinner felt like a special occasion with white tablecloths and suited waiters. The restaurant interior reminded me of a ski lodge with floor to ceiling pine.
Breakfast is a big deal at Alpen Palace and features omelettes (which are made in front of you – I love it when hotels do this!), charcuterie, a delicious selection of fruit, GF breads and pastries, local honeycomb, plenty of cheese and an array of freshly squeezed juices.
A local hike (or skiing if you visit during the winter) is the best way to spend the rest of the morning. We got a bus to a nearby ski lift station and walked about 1.5 hours to Lake Klaussee, passing herds of cows from an alpine farm en route, it was just idyllic. Better still, the routes are all dotted with places to enjoy a gluhwein or two, along with the gorgeous views.
If you do head out, be sure to get back to Alpen Palace for 3pm because each day, until 5pm, tea, fruit platters and cakes are served in the lounge terrace area. When I mentioned ‘gluten free’ I was swiftly brought a lovely light & fluffy strawberry sponge and a totally indulgent, warm, melt-in the-middle chocolate fondant cake.
Such a treat
especially when devoured after a long hike, alongside the bubbling outdoor Jacuzzi. Obvs washed down with Prosecco.
I’d recommend a visit to Alpen Palace over a Sunday so you can enjoy the weekly aperitivo evening, a classic Italian tradition.
Usually served on the terrace overlooking the mountains, with a live pianist in the background, guests are served Prosecco, oysters (GF), prawns in cognac (GF) flambayed in front of your eyes and the prettiest of canapes (all with GF versions) making the most of local produce. After aperitivo, the Sunday Gala Dinner takes place which is a five-course tasting menu. As most of the dishes were naturally gluten free my menu did not vary much from the others.
Food highlights from my trip included GF Tagliolini with black summer truffles; saddle of venison with red cabbage and schupfnudeln (a south German/Austrian take on gnocchi, so good); cream of green peas soup (Alpen Palace makes the most delicious soups, I tried a couple); a chocolate bombe with a Jasmine tea ganache and cocoa brittle; and the breakfast omelettes. There was also a huge help-yourself cheeseboard of dreams.
Thank you to Andreas Schwienbacher and his team of fantastic chefs.
Alpen Palace is so cosy and comfortable.
Sure, some of the décor may be a little dated and fussy but that’s kind of part of the charm and the whole place is brought to life by its friendly staff and it seems very happy in its own skin. It’s unsurprising that about 70% of the guests were repeat visitors.
I was invited to visit Alpen Palace but the cost for a typical three night stay in June/July is around €910, which includes a double room, half board (breakfast, afternoon teatime, all evening meals, apperitivo and Gala Dinner if you stay over a Sunday), and complimentary transfer to/from Innsbruck Airport.
Innsbruck is the closest airport, just a 1.5 hour flight from London (Easyjet flies to Innsbruck from Gatwick).