In the Arlberg Pass to the west of the Tyrolean village of St Anton. Built into a steep slope, Lux Alpinae is a minimalist block of glass, concrete and metal. Completed in December 2003 to designs by the radical Austrian architect Georg Driendl, the hotel brings industrial chic to the ski slopes. Fluorescent tubes light the snow, the concrete porch is painted in hot cinnamon red, and a glass elevator links every floor.
Lux Alpinae is one big USP but perhaps its most unusual feature is the hotel's back wall which had to be quarried out of a hillside. On site one day, Alex Kertess, who commissioned the hotel from Driendl, thought that the rockface could be turned into a 16m interior bouldering wall for guests. So champion boulderer Zanger Berndt was brought in to design the wall. You won't stay in many hotels where you can rope up and climb to your room.
The comfort factor
Well you don't go minimalist if you want big comfy sofas do you? The Lux does have two big monster sofas in its sunken concrete lobby, but rooms have only bed, office chair, a long wooden shelf and, err, that's it. There is a highly aromatic sauna (painted mustard yellow) if you need to unwind and a masseur's table (ask at reception for the masseuse).
Bathroom fittings are chrome (of course) and there's a huge plexiglass window so you can keep an eye on what's going on in the bedroom as you soap. If privacy is required, an integral gunmetal louvre blind can be closed. Toiletries are another minimalist features of this hotel - in other words, bring your own bubblebath.
The food and drink
You're in luck. The dining room faces south over Alpine woodland and is an extension of the bar. Food is fresh with more than a hint of Italian. Chef Harry Winder does a mean pumpkin soup and provides an excellent salad buffet every evening - such as sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and fresh pesto, cheese wrapped in thin courgette strips, and prosciutto and melon.
Alex and Sabina Kertess are very hands-on and amiable. Lux Alpinae was designed to their taste: no wonder they like being there. Most of the guests are British during the winter.
St Anton is one of the places where skiing began as a recreational sport. The Kandehar Ski Club's first races were run here in 1928. The huge Old Post (Alte Post) Hotel was one of the original staging posts when the Tyrol was opened to coach travel in the 19th century. It still dominates the town and offers a good lunch menu.
The glass lift will transport wheelchairs to every floor, except the fitness mezzanine with its punchbag, sauna and white plastic steam room.
Minimalism doesn't extend to the room rates which start at €130 (£86) per person per night, half board, based on two sharing. To be honest it's best to book a package. Thomson Ski (0870 606 1470; www.thomson-ski.co.uk) offers seven days' half board from £595 per person, based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick.
Lux Alpinae, Albergstrasse 41, 6580 St Anton Austria
(00 43 5 446 301 08; www.luxalpinae.at).Reuse content