The craggy mountains, lush valleys and dense forests of Styria provide a dramatic, wild backdrop for the whale shaped Grand Prix track of Spielberg. The undulating landscape encourages extreme sports whilst the Ingeringsee – an idyllic lake framed by mountains – is the perfect place to unwind in natural splendor. Yet alongside the humble tradition, wooden taverns and peace, luxury and glamour resides too.
Rolling Hills of Styria
Check into Hotel G’Schloseel Murtal on the banks for the River Mur for a truly indulgent experience. This beautiful, calm retreat was once a farm for training English riding horses and has since been redesigned to ensure the complete relaxation and pleasure of its guests; on the estate is a spectacular swimming lake, tennis courts, spa, wellness center and authentic Styrian tavern. Hotel Steirerschloessl is another top choice for the jet set crowd, situated in a elegant renovated Art Nouveau building in the centre of Zeltweg, just 3 miles from the Red Bull Ring and also, incidentally, the closest landing strip for private jets. The rooms are spacious with contemporary furnishings and the award winning restaurant is excellent, serving local cuisine infused with international touches and accompanied by fine wine. For somewhere more traditional, the baroque building of Hotel Hofwirt retains an old age glamour with its particularly magnificent stucco ceilings. Stay in one of the seven luxurious suites designed to enhance the grandeur alongside more modern touches and eat heartily at the traditional style restaurant, specializing in local delicacies such as verhackert (a spread made from bacon) and pumpkin based dishes. The most coveted rooms, during the F1 though are at the Landhotel Schonberghof, which has been recently renovated to offer all the facilities of a modern country hotel and boasts a unique view of the entire track, best enjoyed from the sun terrace with a ice cold cocktail.
For a culinary hotspot even closer to the action, Bull’s Lane sits right in the middle of the pit building, with impressive views of the finishing line. The chic hang out attracts a well heeled crowd and is the socializing hub during the racing season. The food is great too ranging from local classics to sports bar favorites such as burgers and steaks. Breakfast, however, is best served at Cafe Wasserturm on the suspended terrace where you can also taste Austrian sweet treats including strudels, cake squares and special ice cream sundaes.
Most of the off track activities here involve the great outdoors, hiking or biking, but those seeking a cultural fix will enjoy a trip to the nearby picturesque town of Judenberg where you can romantically wander the historic streets or else the Benedictine monastery in Seckau is also well worth a visit for the beautiful architecture and sacral art from centuries past. If you’re planning to spend a little longer in the region, a day trip to Graz, the 2003 cultural capital of Europe and Austria’s second largest city after Vienna, is a must. The scenic old town is an important heritage site, whilst the iconic clock tower is famous for its breath-taking panoramic views of the city’s rooftops. It’s also here you’ll find the nightlife, buzzing bars and cool underground clubs.