We all lead hectic lives, we rush from one thing to the next and even travel can leave us exhausted and stressed out. That’s when “slow travel” comes in, a concept where the purpose of the trip is less on manic sightseeing, but more on taking in your surroundings at a relaxed pace. I have recently discovered the area of Merano, located in South Tyrol, surrounded by mountains up to 3.335 metres high and known for having 300 days of sunshine per year. You might now think of Alpine kitsch, Heidi aesthetics, old-fashioned chalets and greasy food. But none of that is the case at the Design Hotel Tyrol. Situated in one of the nicest areas in South Tyrol, you can indulge in nature and outdoor activities, but don’t have to compromise on excellent food and stylish surroundings.
Slow travel also means exploring your immediate surroundings on foot. At the Design Hotel Tyrol you can leave your car in the garage and start hiking and mountain biking right outside the front door – for as far as 240 kilometres! The hotel offers various hiking and biking packages all year round and for all levels. You can either choose one of the walking paths (Waal-Spazierwege), or go for a hike on the famous mountain path around Merano (Meraner Höhenweg), you can visit the highest waterfall of South Tyrol, or take a tour to the Spronser Lakes – all by foot. If you like a bit of a challenge, you might want to conquer one of the tall mountains around Merano. You can also use one of the two cableways to get up, or choose to have a little photo session in the cute, little antique one (see my photos below). You can also go for a guided tour with “Uncle Rudi” and discover one of the nearby crystal-clear lakes, surrounded by sunny lawns and wild nature. I am not sure, but I think “slow travel” does allow a little day trip in your (convertible) car to one of the pass roads, to soak up some sunshine, enjoy the local food and hopefully some good company (in the form of your driver). And of course, you shouldn’t miss visiting Merano, known for its spas, art nouveau buildings, cultural diversity and alpine-mediterranean lifestyle. I recommend a nice shopping spree with sightseeing at the historic centre, followed by a visit to the Merano Thermal Baths spa complex and the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle botanical gardens.
The main thing about slow travel in my opinion is to connect – with culture, with food, with people. The Design Hotel Tyrol is a small hotel and it’s family run and that’s what makes it so special and pleasant. No matter if it’s a small chat with Mama Frieda at the reception, or with the bar keeper Christoph whilst enjoying one of his creations, or cuddles with Josef the dog, or drinks with Boris and Christiane at the hotel bar – family Frei makes you feel welcome and at home and that’s what creates the best memories. After this stay, I came home relaxed, energised and with a suitcase full of fond memories. I will definitely come back!
*In collaboration with Design Hotel Tyrol / PrCo Munich