A reimagined Tyrollean townhouse with tropical gardens and old-world breakfasts
Perched at the foot of the Alps in Italy’s South Tyrol, this elegant, family-owned boutique hotel artfully balances local and historical character with 21st century nomadic expectations.
Ensconced in a flush of tropical plants majestic palm trees (courtesy of Merano’s Alpine-Mediterranean microclimate), the green-shuttered, blush-pink Ottmanngut whispers tales of the region’s Austrian history. Listen, and it’s there in the cleverly-curated art, the tinkle of the grand piano’s keys and the faint rhythms of old-world dining. This is fine-turned to a more minimalist, casual pitch – no chintz or antiques overload.
Rooms are also at once pared down and ornate, with parquet floors a statement canvas for elaborate wooden headboards and chests dressed in lace, – all nodding to the house’s noble history. Breakfast is a time warp of silverware, white tablecloths and traditional cakes doused in icing-sugar and berries – light spilling in through the winter garden winks on glasses of fresh orange juice before prancing across rows of polished cutlery.
Outside, a courtyard dotted with terracotta pots and white umbrellas confounds guests with its curious mix of snowy-capped Alpine backdrops and bright, coastal-grade sunshine, with cypress trees and pine-infused air.
Sustainability: Perhaps by virtue of its proximity to the mountains and the clean air, the guesthouse has a nature-first outlook – one that is manifest throughout, from the local and radically seasonal breakfast menu to the natural soaps found in the photogenic tiled bathrooms. Eco-conscious guests can play their part by requesting to skip daily linen and towel changes, should they wish, and are rewarded with a discount if they are using public transport to reach the hotel.
Family-friendly: While Ottmanngut welcomes children, a gentle and notably quiet breakfast in the winter garden doesn’t feel conducive to toddler tantrums.
Access: While there is one suite on the upper ground floor which is wide enough for a wheelchair, the topsy turvy layout of this old building, with an abundance of stairs, makes manoeuvring for disabled guests difficult.
Insider tips to know: Aside from the splendid breakfast of homemade jams and freshly-baked bread, the hotel only has a snack bar, so best to venture into Merano with the hotel’s top recommendations, or book into one of town’s surrounding vineyard restaurants for lunch and supper.
Doubles from £220 with breakfast included
Location guide: Merano, South Tyrol
Do: With a heritage soaked in beer and searing hot strudels, Merano feels more Austrian than Italian. Its pastel-painted baroque town centre is flanked by leafy avenues then little orchards and, finally, vineyards cascading down the surrounding hills. Enjoy a soak in one of the spa town’s thermal baths (Therme Merano is popular with the locals), a pensive coffee in Piazza Del Grano (the epicentre of Merano’s historical district), and for a blast of fresh mountain air and some history, take Sissi’s Path via Trauttmansdorff Castle and its pretty botanical gardens.
Eat: Tuck into traditional cakes at local stalwart, König – a sugar-laced paean to the region’s cultural melting pot that has been open since 1893. Go for its legendary strudel or the chocolate Merano cake. For lunch pull up a chair at Trattoria Al Boia – a Sicilian import honouring island classics such as caponata and pasta alla norma. For supper, book a table at Sigmund, a terraced local with a genteel sensibility and a mix of Italian and Tyrolean classics, done well.
Drink: Nurse an aperitif or strong coffee at the low key Caffé Kunsthaus (part of the Kunst Meran gallery), or settle into Forsterbräu’s beer garden where local brews are served alongside hearty traditional dishes such as knödel (dumplings), sausage and sauerkraut. Those keen to peer into the region’s vinicultural soul should head to Vinothek Claudia, an understated, family-run wine bar showcasing the bounty of the town’s surrounding vineyards with unfussy (and seriously tasty) locally-sourced charcuterie boards.
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