There is no place in the Alps that's quite as charming as Bad Gastein. The town's Belle Epoque mansions remind you of a time when European royalty summered here in the 20th century and marveled at the rainbow that's cast by Bad Gastein's famous waterfall. At some point the town fell into obscurity and visitor numbers dwindled. Only recently, Bad Gastein developed into one of the liveliest, most fascinating, and extraordinary spots in the Alps - especially for gay and lesbian travelers.
“It's the panorama that reels you in - but it's the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that you stick around for. Oh and then there's the food - it's incredibly good!”Bad Gastein © Österreich Test / Christof Wagner The ESCAPIST | MONOCLE MAGAZINE
Today you won't encounter the Austrian Empress, but you can enjoy the undisturbed quiet and take advantage of Bad Gastein's stunning setting. You might scale a mountain with a local guide or take the quick route on the cable car. Go on a leisurly hike into the Kötschachtal valley along a stream (where you'll find the best strudel in the country), or scale the lofty via ferrata. And after all that time outdoors you get to warm up your muscles in the thermal water of the Felsentherme spa - or maybe you'll stretch it out with a round of yoga by the waterfall? No matter where the day takes you, in the end you'll be ready for the best sleep of your life, and there are some exceptional modern hotels you can make your home in Bad Gastein. Hotels Miramonte, Regina, and Grüner Baum are prime hideouts with state-of-the-art amenities.
Another highlight is Jan ans Stefan's Waldhaus Rudolfshöhe, which the couple lovingly revived after their move from Berlin in 2016. Their mountain refuge is exactly the kind of silent idyll city dwellers crave in the mountains. The transformation wasn't easy since the house looks back on 600 years of turbulent history. The fact that Empress Sisi would come here for a spartan picnic is a matter of course at the Rudolfshöhe, but today there is nothing spartan about Jan and Stefan's operation. The rooms are decorated with home-y, individualistic furniture and art that makes your stay one-of-a-kind. At the panorama hut you're treated to excellent food and a view that you'll remember for a long time. It's the perfect place to escape the chaos of city life while still feeling completely at home in nature.