As you’ll see, the Italian Alps are filled with some truly fantastic hotel designs. More importantly, in early December, they’re also filled with Krampus.
They must build kids differently in the Dolomites. My 4-year-old gets frightened whenever there’s thunder and lightning during an episode of My Little Pony. If she ever saw a Krampus — in person, no less — neither of us would be getting a good night’s sleep for a while. But this time of year in South Tyrol, way up in the Italian Alps near the border with Germany and Austria, Krampus is as common as Elmo and Bluey.
This is the week when Krampuses (Krampi?) make their appearance in towns and villages all over the Eastern Alps. Parades featuring hundreds of revelers in grotesque, demonic, and highly detailed Krampus costumes set out to strike fear into the hearts of the local children. That this is not only allowed to happen, but happens with joy and anticipation every December, is absolutely fascinating to this apparently over-sensitive parent. I thought I was a pretty chill dad. Turns out I’m a total prude.
But come on, take a look at these guys. Pure nightmare fuel.
Unfamiliar with Krampus? The story goes that he’d accompany jolly old St. Nick on his yearly visits to Alpine children. Well-behaved boys and girls received gifts. The naughty kids, on the other hand, would face the wrath of Krampus, who might beat them or drag them away in his sack. The only way the mischievous could avoid this uncomfortable trip to hell was if St. Nicholas intervened on their behalf. Some say that’s a metaphor for how good triumphs over evil. I say it’s a shameless endorsement of bootlicking and the preference shown to those who suck up to the state.
Anyway, here are some heart-stopping hotels in the Italian Alps.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Cortina has long been one of Italy’s most famous ski towns, and Faloria has long been one of Cortina’s most famous hotels. But it’s only now, after a complete redesign at the hand of architect Flaviano Capriotti, that the Faloria Mountain Spa Resort ascends to the highest levels of contemporary luxury hospitality.
At Schwarzschmied, you’ll find a distinctly Italian version of the Alpine good life. The design may veer towards Nordic simplicity but there’s also a thread of modernist-inspired contemporary Italian luxury design in the sleek, low-slung furnishings and the rich, earthy background colors.
You’ll find echoes of both German and Italian cultures in the South Tyrol town of Lana, but it’s a place with a character all its own. And the same can be said of its hotels, thanks in no small part to 1477 Reichhalter, a 500-year-old structure updated with mid-century modern design pieces, refashioned into a contemporary-yet-timeless boutique hotel.
Floris is a ten-suite treehouse-style hotel within a hotel, its abstracted lodge-like forms elevated on stilts to minimize their footprint. The interiors use classic Alpine materials like timber floors, combined with clean-lined modernist furniture and fixtures, and dark, rich colors that lend an urban-boutique aspect.
Forestis Dolomites is a strikingly modern luxury lodge built of stone, glass, and wood both inside and out. The hotel is beautifully integrated into the landscape, and the interior design makes the most of it; guest rooms are bathed in natural light, thanks to picture windows that open onto views of the wilderness.
From the outside, Goldene Rose is an immaculately well-kept Tyrolean inn, and on the inside, a hotel that’s clearly absorbed the influence of a generation or two of stylish Italian hospitality design. This means expanses of knotted pine wood alongside understatedly chic furnishings and tastefully muted textiles.
Italy’s Dolomites have long been the site of some of the more adventurous currents in Alpine hotel design, and Alpin Garden Luxury Maison is perfectly emblematic of this tendency. Its silhouette and materials are classic, but look closer and you’ll see modernist forms in the exterior and unusual surfaces in the lodge-meets-loft rooms and suites.
San Cassiano, Italy
The Dolomites is one of the last places where you say “old-fashioned” with reverence and “rustic” without affectation. For three generations and counting, the Wieser family has been keeping that tradition alive at Hotel Ciasa Salares, an ode in rich timber and textile to the region’s venerable Ladin culture.
Cheese enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that the Asiago Plateau is a real place — and a strikingly beautiful one at that. There’s an excellent hotel up here in the mountains, too. The Meltar, occupying a restored old farmhouse, is a perfectly tranquil getaway from the tourist crush of the Veneto.
Castel Fragsburg occupies what may be the most privileged position in this beautiful corner of South Tyrol. It’s located inside an elegant hunting lodge that first opened its doors nearly four centuries ago — and on a nearby cliffside is the 14th-century castle for which it was built, now used to host hotel events.
In its broadest contours this South Tyrol hotel is true to Alpine lodge tradition — but its asymmetrical rooflines, its slate-gray larch cladding, and the swooping, organic curves of its façade reveal that Milla Montis is as modern as can be. The interiors follow suit, in acres of warm ash with forest-green woolen furniture.
In the UNESCO-listed Dolomites village of Castelrotto, a relatively undistinguished 1980s-vintage hotel has been transformed into the truly unique Schgaguler Hotel. Architect Peter Pichler has kept the peaked silhouettes, but replaced the façade with a minimalist grid of white concrete and vast expanses of glass.
Issengo BZ, Italy
As you’d expect from a hotel called Gourmet- und Boutiquehotel, Restaurant Tanzer, the cuisine is a focal point, and it’s suitably elaborate, combining South Tyrolean and Mediterranean flavors with the spirit of abundant, healthy eating that’s native to the Alps. It’s a perfect introduction to Alpine life, for all four seasons. As to what this picture is all about, you’ll have to visit to find out.