After staying at Hotel Serles in Tyrol, Austria I will never look at the humble bread dumpling called a Knödel the same way again.
If someone told me it’s possible for a Knödel to melt in your mouth, I would say there’s no way. The main ingredient is bread after all. Now I understand that Knödel making is indeed an art and, if practiced well like at the Hotel Serles, it’s no wonder people become Knödel critics. (Yes, you do find them in Tyrol!)
Of course, the Knödel isn’t the only reason why we loved our stay at Hotel Serles in Mieders in the Stubaital (Stubai Valley) near Innsbruck. Neither was it the swimming pool and jacuzzi we returned to after a long day on the ski runs of the Stubai Glacier ski resort.
What makes the Hotel Serles stand out in a valley where you can pick and choose your accommodation is the sincere hospitality. I wasn’t surprised to discover it’s been run by the same family since 1971. And there are guests who’ve been coming here for just as long!
Before my mind drifts off to the Knödel again, let’s get to other important bits.
Our room at Hotel Serles
Stepping into our room behind the friendly receptionist who accompanied us, we were pleasantly surprised to find they had put us in a family suite. It meant M had his own room, with a small lounge separating us. The luxury of space!
The interior of our suite wasn’t the latest, but it wasn’t bad either. From the brochures, it’s obvious many of the rooms have been done over, but ours wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, it’s neat and tidy with comfortable beds and a sofa that C wanted to take home.
The TV is in the lounge, so no watching from bed. But hey, we were so tired after a day on the slopes and feasting on the culinary delights of Hotel Serles that I doubt my eyes would have stayed open 5 minutes watching TV anyway.
The toilet and shower with wash basin are on opposite sides of the passage when you enter the room. Very small, and once again not the latest fittings, but spotlessly clean.
We found a pleasant surprise in our cupboard. A quality hiking daypack and two pairs of Nordic walking poles. They are not for the taking, but to use when going on Alpine hikes during your stay at Hotel Serles. A very nice touch indeed!
Despite not really hanging out in the room during the day, we did find time to enjoy the views of Mieders and beyond from our balcony. Snowcapped mountain peaks, a church tower, cows grazing in a camp… I can imagine spending hours here during the summer, just reading or chilling.
Tip: Take some earplugs when you overnight in Hotel Serles on the eve of a Catholic religious holiday. The sound of the church bells woke us up at 6:00 and they didn’t stop ringing for 10 minutes.
Fortunately, we knew it was Allerheiligen or All Saint’s Day. Catholics in Austria and Germany honor the lives of every saint on Allerheiligen, which always falls on November 1. It’s also a day for families to get together to remember deceased relatives and visit their graves.
So, the ringing of the bells at 06:00 actually lend a special touch to our stay in Hotel Serles.
Read more: Your guide to the Stubai glacier ski resort
The Hotel Serles common areas
Given the time of the year, with the balcony flowers starting to droop their heads and the trees losing their leaves, the exterior of Hotel Serles didn’t give us an idea of what to expect inside. Was it going to live up to its 4-star status?
It did. We entered the glass doors to find a stylish entrance hall with oriental carpets on marble tiles, warm woods and Tyrolean artifacts welcoming us. Not to mention a friendly receptionist in a Dirndl (traditional pinafore dress). Check-in took about 5 minutes before she showed us our room and answered all our questions.
Between the reception and bar/dining area are 2 big lounges with a huge Kachelofen to provide heat and atmosphere. Guests can sit here to read or play games.
Indoor heated pool and wellness area
One of the first things we did (with M’s encouragement) was to get our bathing suits out and go in search of the swimming pool. It was easy to find by taking the lift to the basement.
The pool is big enough for older people to swim their lengths while the kids splash around. There is a tea bar where you can help yourself to Ayurveda teas while relaxing on a lounger. Not everything is underground, with views of the garden and Serles mountain from big windows flanking one side.
I kept my eye on the jacuzzi around the corner which already had four occupants. As soon as one of them left, I took my seat. Aaah, much warmer than the pool water! Even C later joined when another spot became free. Normally, he isn’t too fond of “bathing” with other people.
Hotel Serles’ wellness area also has a Finnish sauna, while massages and beauty treatments can be booked separately.
Dining room and food
The day on the ski runs followed by swimming and relaxing in a jacuzzi meant we had worked up a healthy appetite by the time we entered the dining room. It wasn’t long before our drinks arrived at the beautifully set table. Thomas, the owners’ son, was our friendly and competent waiter for the 2 days.
A menu in a stylish white folder awaits you on the table. On our first night, we had a choice of 4 main courses. C took the duck l’orange with red cabbage and I chose the calf goulash with Spätzle (traditional egg noodles). M opted for the children’s meal of chicken fingers and fries.
Together with the usual salad buffet, the famed Knödel selection was an option for a starter. Knowing how filling they are, I decided to skip them. But C couldn’t resist and literally chose one of each to try – bacon, spinach, beetroot, cheese, and ordinary bread.
Smothered in browned butter and parmesan cheese, the compliments soon started pouring from his mouth in between bites. So much so, that I insisted on tasting each one to determine whether the fuss was justified. Well, you’ve already read my verdict at the start of this article…
Dessert was a panna cotta topped with a berry compote.
Dinner on day 2 was mostly self-help. It started with a selection of bread and traditional lard spreads, cheeses, sausages, salads and Oma Hedwig’s Gerstelsuppe (grandma Hedwig’s pearl barley soup).
After the substantial starter, you could line up for your plate to be filled with a selection of roast meats – from pork and beef to lamb and calf. A variety of hot side dishes, including an interesting vegetable strudel, accompanied the meet.
Kaiserschmarrn, Buchteln, Apfelstrudel and Scheiterhaufen… These are all names of desserts served on day 2.
Nothing is left to be desired in the Hotel Serles breakfast buffet. Since we were heading for the ski runs again on our second day, we packed in enough bacon and eggs, cereals, bread, cheese and fruit salad. Chef Josef Weichinger makes your eggs to order and personally delivers them to your table.
Things to do around Hotel Serles
The Hotel Serles is in the shadow of the 2,717 m Serles mountain, also known as the “high altar of Tyrol”. Which, after the Knödel, brings me to the second best thing about the Hotel Serles. It’s walking distance from the Serlesbahnen cable car, gateway to the famous Mieders Alpine Coaster in summer and the Mieders ski resort in winter.
Mieders Alpine coaster
The Mieders Alpine coaster is the steepest of its kind in the Alps and whisks you down a 2.8km track at speeds of up to 42km/h.
The Koppeneck mountain station from where the Mieders Alpine coaster departs is also your gateway to many other summer attractions and activities. It is home to a mountain restaurant and a vast water play area for kids. Many hiking trails also start here.
Serlesbahnen Mieders ski resort
The resort is small compared to the Stubai glacier and Schlick 2000 but is nevertheless great fun for families and those wanting to avoid the crowds at the bigger resorts. There are 6 ski runs in total, 2 of which are red (intermediate) and the rest blue (easy).
The Serlesbahnen Mieders may be better known for its toboggan runs than its ski slopes. The 7,5km run from the mountain to the valley station is very popular. From Tuesdays to Sundays you can even sled at night when the run is floodlit.
Find all the winter details and prices of the Serlesbahnen Mieders here.
Instead of just driving through Mieders to get to the Alpine coaster, our stay at the Hotel Serles gave us the perfect opportunity to take a closer look.
We set out to explore the 900-year old town after breakfast on our last day. Our mission was to get to the little church on the hill that we could see from the hotel. These pictures do the best job to describe our walk through town.
We made it to the Calvary chapel on the hill where the local soldiers who died in WWI and WWII are remembered.
There are still many farms in the middle of Mieders. We were happy to see that most of them are organic farms. At Stangler Hof, the proud farmer told us his wife was responsible for the creative autumn decorations on the barn wall and at the front door.
Just before we arrived back at Hotel Serles, we passed two “farm stores” – one selling eggs, chickens, soups and jams, and the other selling cooldrink syrup. Both are self-help stalls from the Milcherhof farm. While we were standing there, at least 3 villagers came to buy eggs at the Milcherhof Eierstadele. We even got to see the chickens who lay the eggs further down the road!
More reasons to stay at Hotel Serles
- It’s ideally located at the entrance to the Stubaital. From here, you can easily reach all the ski resorts or hiking trails in the valley while also being close to Innsbruck and other towns if you want a change of scenery. See the map below.
- If you book a weekly package, an attractive activity programme is included. In winter, for example, a ski taxi takes guests to the different ski resorts in the area. They are even accompanied by their own ski guide. In summer, the Stubai Super Card which gives guests access to many free activities and services is included in the price. Guided hikes also form part of the summer package.
- The bigger Schlick 2000 ski resort is just down the road in Fulpmes, and the Stubay water and sports park even closer in Telfes.
- There is ample free parking (but don’t forget an ice scraper in winter!)
- Small children are kept busy in a well-equipped playroom.
- There is a drying room for your ski shoes and other equipment to dry overnight.
- You won’t run out of ideas of things to do. A list of proposed activities and the weather forecast for the day awaits you at the breakfast table every morning.
Prices and packages
Room rates at the Hotel Serles start at €58 (bed and breakfast) per person per night in the low season. Half board (including a small lunch buffet and coffee and cake in the afternoon) start at €73, with weekly packages including half board beginning at €496.
Map and getting there
By car – Take the Schönberg exit from the A13 motorway between Innsbruck and Brenner. Don’t get a fright if you see a toll booth just after exiting. A toll fee of €3,50 is charged for that section of the motorway coming from Innsbruck. From Brenner, you will pay €9,50 at the main toll gate. If you keep your slip, you won’t pay anything at Schönberg.
By public transport – Bus 590 from the Innsbruck main train station stops in front of the hotel. From the hotel, travel on the bus is free in winter if you are dressed in your winter sports clothes. The bus departs every half hour.
- Special thanks to the Stubai Tourism Board for hosting our stay. As always, all opinions are our own.
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