An Alpine adventure worthy of James Bond in Sölden, Austria
Exhilarating chase sequences are thrilling on the big screen, but it turns out that some of the most breathtaking scenes in James Bond films can be recreated in real life. Rosie travels to Sölden, Austria to experience life as a Bond heroine for a few days.
The quaint ski resort of Sölden in southern Austria wouldn’t have been my first pick as the high-octane location for a James Bond action sequence. With cosy wooden chalets serving up comforting bowls of soup and the sound of church bells in the air, on first impressions it felt more suited to The Sound of Music rather than something in the action genre.
Don’t be fooled by first impressions, though. This is a region where adventure sports come into their own, where thrill-seekers can test their limits, and where gourmets and hedonists can indulge their tastes: a region perfectly suited to 007, as I was soon to find out.
The car journey alone from northern Italy to Sölden is a thrilling experience: the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road weaves its way uphill through endless hairpin bends, each revealing a staggering new perspective of the Alpine landscape. To make the experience even more like something from a Bond film, Hotel Das Central offers guests complimentary rental of a convertible BMW Z4 M4oi, which does 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds: be sure to hold tight to your camera while taking pictures…
A hotel fit for celebrities
Whilst traditional ski chalets are practical and rather twee, they don’t exactly exude the luxurious, aspirational vibe associated with the hotels James Bond stays in. Das Central, however, boasts an excellent location close to the ski lifts, as well as the finest of five-star facilities: rooms are decorated with woods such as European walnut, hand-planed oak, matured ancient timber and bamboo, certain bathrooms feature marble or glass baths, and the Presidential Suite even has its own fitness area – James Bond needs to keep in shape for those Alpine chase sequences, after all.
Those staying in the more ‘ordinary’ rooms won’t miss out: there’s a state-of-the-art gym in the basement, with a personal trainer on hand to help you develop a chiselled physique to rival that of Mr. Bond himself. Post-workout relaxation is taken to a whole new level in the plush spa area, which transports guests to another Bond location – Venice – with 10 different saunas to experience, as well as 16 treatment rooms where massages are tailored to guests’ individual needs: be they tired legs from a day of skiing or hiking, relaxation, or bullet-wounds…
Food at Das Central is a classy affair, with the five-course gourmet tasting menus served every evening having earned the hotel a coveted ‘Toque d‘Honneur’, an eternal toque from Gault Millau. Expect classical Austrian Alpine cuisine fused with Mediterranean and Asian influences, accompanied with a choice of over 30,000 bottles of fine wine from all over the world stored in the hotel’s legendary wine cellar, a location worthy of a Bond film scene and an unforgettable setting for a tasting of the country’s largest range of Austrian wines.
Shaken, not stirred
Two stunning cable car journeys up from Das Central transports you to ice Q restaurant, the location for ‘Spectre’. Located at 3,048 metres altitude, the glass building glistens like a diamond in the sun that reflects off the surrounding snowy peaks – a fittingly dominant structure for a Bond villain’s lair. Inside, the food that is served is equally impressive: gourmet tasting menus showcase the finest produce from the Alpine area, accompanied with exquisite wines including the restaurant’s very own PINO 3000, matured on the Gaislachkogl mountain in a specially-designed cask wine cellar – or a Vodka Martini, of course.
Visitors can combine their culinary expedition with a visit to the adjoining 007 Elements cinematic installation to discover how some of the most complex action sequences were filmed on the very slopes that extend beneath. In winter months, you can race to the bottom on your skis to recreate the experience for yourself: the Ötztal region has over 350km of slopes, including two glacier ski mountains.
The region has so much more than just snowsports to offer though: nearby Area 47 is Austria’s largest leisure park, offering over 35 different activities, from wakeboarding on a 20,000sqm lake, to rafting and canyoning on the rapids and rushing whitewater of the Inn and Ötztaler Ache Rivers, to embarking on a 27m high ropes course over the Achbrücke bridge. Even those who prefer to find their thrills in spectator sports will find non-stop entertainment observing the water area, where riders reach speeds of up to 80km/h on the Freefall Slide, friends catapult one another high into the air from the giant Blobbing pod, and pro cliff divers are invited to jump off a 27m platform. The skills and tricks on show in the numerous world-class competitions hosted by Area 47 would give even James Bond a run for his money.
Just as Bond must never underestimate a potential enemy based on first impressions, Sölden and the surrounding Ötztal region is anything but your average mountain resort.
Das Central, Sölden, Austria has double rooms available from €153 per person per night in the summer season, based on two people sharing on a half board basis. All guests receive the Ötztal Premium Card, which includes journeys on the summer cable cars, entry to the swimming lakes and more. For further information and bookings, please visit central-soelden.com.
Main image: Das Central
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