Travel: 24-Hour Room Service: Goldener Hirsch Hotel, Salzburg

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The Independent Culture
"LUXURY ISN'T about gold plating. We believe it's about feeling you have come home." This is the philosophy at the Goldener Hirsch, which at first sight is more like an old country house, transplanted into the middle of the city, than a deluxe hotel.

From the outside, only a small nameplate, and a black wrought-iron sign with a golden stag in the centre, give any indication of what is lurking behind the plain wooden door. Inside, a haphazard collection of rooms and corridors have been welded together as extra buildings have been bought and incorporated into the original house. The staff, and many of the regular visitors, regard themselves as part of a big family.

Recently, when the barman left after many years service, guests flew in from all over the world to wish him well. Many of those who stay are music-lovers attending the festivals, or tourists visiting the city; Salzburg (pictured) is not really a business destination. The hotel is in the middle of Getreidegasse, down the road from the Festschpielhaus, Salzburg's concert hall complex, and up the road from Mozart's birthplace, in the heart of the old city. Among the cafes and restaurants in this area are some of the city's most expensive shops.

The restaurant is so popular with locals that it isn't always possible to get a table even if you are staying at the hotel, unless you have booked in advance - up to a year ahead sometimes, since this is the place to eat after a festival performance.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Hotel Goldener Hirsch, Getreidegasse 37, A-5020 Salzburg (00 43 662 8084) or www.austria.at/goldener_hirsch

Transport: Since Getreidegasse is in the heart of the pedestrianised old city, you will have to be prepared to walk a bit, but the location is ideal for all the main sights.

Time to Salzburg airport: About 20 minutes by taxi; the airport is a couple of miles from the city centre.

Time to the railway station: 10 minutes by taxi

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

There are 70 rooms, all slightly different from each other; some are non-smoking. The standard is five-star throughout and all the rooms have pieces of original Bauern-style furniture - hand-painted cupboards and chests typical of Austrian country homes. The more modern pieces complement the antiques.

Beds: Standard size single or double beds, with huge duvets and plenty of pillows.

Freebies: Every kind of toiletry, as well as slippers; bathrobes are provided.

Temperature: Every room has individual controls for heating and air-conditioning.

Bathroom: All the rooms have baths, and some also have a separate shower. The marble fittings and hand-made towels come from Italy.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Television: Various European TV stations; the only programmes in English are provided by CNN.

Radio: Blue Danube radio is a Vienna-based English-language service, but it's not quite up to Radio 4 standards.

Phone/Fax/Internet: All the rooms have phones. There are three "smart rooms" which are equipped with an ISDN line, as well as a printer and fax. About a third of the rooms have Internet sockets, and the library is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, carefully concealed behind panels and cupboards.

Newspapers: the International Herald Tribune, USA Today and various local papers are always available, and other requests are accommodated wherever possible. Staff pride themselves on remembering guests' tastes in newspapers, and at what time they like to receive them.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms start at AS3,600 (about pounds 183) in the low season, with prices going up to AS5,900 (about pounds 300) during the various festival seasons (Easter, and late July-August). The best rooms, in the Festival Wing, range from AS4,900 to AS7,500 (between pounds 250 and pounds 380). The buffet breakfast is one of the most sumptuous I have ever seen and costs an extra AS 290 (pounds 15) per person.

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