‘I’m not going there – it’s full of British tourists’, to paraphrase an unnamed relative, when describing their reluctance to go to Seefeld. Is it a valid point? Only to say that yes, Seefeld is very popular with the Brits but there are Brits and then there are Brits: these though are not your corpulent effluvium of Benidorm and Blackpool vintage.
So, what is its enduring popularity based upon? Seefeld is not a small, chocolate-box village in the vein of Alpbach, Ellmau or Soll but nevertheless has a certain rarefied Tyrolean air, having something for everybody. To address my original question in a somewhat circuitous manner I would conclude that Seefeld is not a large village or a small town; it therefore has a vast stock of accommodation predominantly open 52 weeks of the year and caters for a wide-demographic, from hikers using it as a sophisticated, upper-class base to those in their relative twilight years happy to meander through the pedestrianised streets, going coffee-shop to coffee-shop rather than hut to hut. Seefeld is easily big enough to cope with the perpetual Brit influx, along with the German hoards from just over the border, but never feels like a faceless resort designed to empty your pockets and then wave you back to where you came from.
My experiences of the accommodation Seefeld offers are at the Batzenhausl and Alpina hotels. Both were visited on a strict budget and ergo are three-star, with a vast array of four and five star available to suit your particular pocket. My last stay in Seefeld was at the slightly off-centre Alpina, which styles itself as a family-run hotel owned by the Marcati conglomerate. If your ideal definition of a family-run establishment is to staff the hotel with Slovakian and Hungarian workers with no identifiable manager being obvious at any time, then this is the hotel for you. I wouldn’t though like to completely put the knife into the Alpina as it does have it’s charms but having experienced better, far better, in Austria, it does have the air of it being a cash-cow of an asset being mercilessly sweated by the Marcati clan, helping to finance the multifarious tentacles of it’s business interests. Being a vegetarian I had to eat out at a local restaurant a couple of times once I had begun to tire of the predictable evening-meal offering despite it being a buffet-affair and the choice, on the face of it, being plentiful. Unfortunately, I don’t regard a soup to be “vegetarian” when it has ham in it. The breakfast, again a vast buffet was though excellent and to the staff’s credit they did visit each table at breakfast time, offering a complimentary packed-lunch which while not being particularly useful to a serious-hiker was a nice touch and helpful if in differing circumstances.
My room at the Alpina was a disappointement but, and it’s a big but, it had a bath! Yes, this was certainly the highlight of my stay at the hotel. Even though I was unable hit the hiking heights during my stay due to the disappointlingly inclement weather, the bath was a welcome sight on my daily return to the hotel, as was the again complimentary coffee and cake every afternoon. As you will see, the hotel was not a complete washout but my room, styled and therefore sold to me as having a terrace was in fact an apology of exposed wires hanging from light-fittings and a rotting deck of wood masquerading as a terrace, with no security afforded the rooms at the back of the hotel from adjoining rooms and the woodland abutting them. Not acceptable. The rooms were however serviced daily to a good standard, albeit by headphone-wearing immigrant workers.
So what of Seefeld itself? In my case I came for the walking but was unable to get the miles into my legs that were intended, due to the at times incessant rain and low cloud which precluded any higher-level walking or ridge-traversing. Once the cloud shifts the vista of the Seefelder Joch and the Rosshuettebahn funicular which services it puts the Alpina in a particularly advantageous position for merely viewing the mountains in true Mark Twain fashion: a veranda, telescope and a bottle of whisky being the necessary accoutrements rather than crampons, an ice-axe and a faith in the Almighty. Seefeld is also an excellent base for venturing into Germany, with the impressive Mittenwald less than 30 minutes away; further on Garmisch Partenkirchen can be reached but you might find the journey being the highlight of visiting GP, especially the schlepp back to Seefeld.
My recommendations of Seefeld assume money is of little importance to you and therefore no object. I endorse through it’s reputation and central-position the Hotel Klosterbraeu, a five-star establishment in every sense. Housed in a 500 year old former monastery, it’s central location shouldn’t put you off due to the three feet thick nature of it’s walls, making them almost impenetrable against any noise caused by the milling-masses in the pedestrian area outside. I would imagine this is a particularly strong selling-point during the ski-season, assuming the après-ski ever gets raucous. I would similarly endorse the Seefeld Present jewellery store, almost opposite the Klosterbraeu, where you can attempt to buy yourself out of trouble with your girlfriend for not taking her with you.