Travel; 24-Hour Room Service: Weisses Kreuz, Innsbruck - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Travel; 24-Hour Room Service: Weisses Kreuz, Innsbruck

THE IDEA that Mozart slept at the Weisses Kreuz hotel - in the days when dormitories were more common than private rooms - was one of many appealing factors (even though the composer's lodging is now the owner's office). But I was horrified, at first, to find myself entering the hotel through what seemed like the servants' quarters. In fact the front door takes you into the area where the horses used to be kept - travelling in the 15th century, when the Weisses Kreuz first started receiving visitors, was a very different business - and the reception is on the second floor.

Once you are inside, it is difficult not to be taken with the easy charm of the Weisses Kreuz. It was built around a central courtyard and, although that has now gone, the internal windows have been preserved. A fountain spouts away next to the reception desk. The restaurant is a series of stube, smallish, Tyrolean-style rooms, each with a wooden bench running around the walls, and groups of carved wooden chairs.

The location is ideal: Herzog-Friedrichstrasse is a continuation of the main Maria-Theresien-Strasse in the heart of the old city, just down the road from the famous Golden Roof and round the corner from the Hofburg and the other main sights. The Hungerburg cable-car, which takes you into the mountains, is a 20-minute walk away.

LOCATION, LOCATION,

LOCATION

Gasthof-hotel Weisses Kreuz, Herzog-Friedrichstrasse 31, A-6020 Innsbruck/ Altstadt. 00 43 512 59479; e-mail hotel.weisses.kreuz@eunet.at

Transport: the hotel is on the edge of the pedestrianised centre of Innsbruck, and walking distance from all the main sights: in fact you can see most of the them from your room, if it faces the right way. The hotel has its own garage, but otherwise buses and taxis can stop at a visitors' assembly point at the end of the street.

Time from airport: 10 minutes; the airport is two miles from the city centre.

Time from station: five minutes by cab, 10 minutes on foot.

ARE YOU LYING

COMFORTABLY?

Beds: Standard-size doubles or singles, made up with large Austrian duvets and two pillows for each person. When I asked for an extra blanket, I was offered a choice of wool or feather, and a second duvet arrived within minutes. Since the building is an ancient one that has been modernised, the rooms vary in size; the best is No 403, which, apart from being large and comfortably furnished, has a bay window with a stunning view up and down the street, with snow-capped mountains as backdrop in both directions.

Freebies: soap and shampoo; this is not the place to come if you want to replenish your supply of cosmetics.

Temperature: the radiators in the bedroom and bathroom could be switched on or off.

Bathroom: some rooms only have a shower, others have a bath with shower attachment.

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Television: NBC is the only English-language station. There is a large selection of programmes from all over Europe, but nothing from the UK.

Radio: in every room, although I couldn't make mine work, so it was difficult to tell what range of stations might be available.

Phone/fax/Internet: there is a phone in every room. Fax and Internet are available only at reception.

Newspapers: a selection of local papers and Austrian dailies is available in the dining-room at breakfast time. When I asked for something in English, I was told that nothing could be delivered before 9am.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms range between 1,060AS (pounds 53) and 1,300AS in the low season, with prices in the high season only slightly higher. This includes tax, service, and a substantial buffet breakfast. A space in the private garage costs 100AS a day.

I'm not paying that: book for three nights or more, and you get a 10 per cent discount.

Cathy Packe

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