I have had the pleasure of studying many hotels in Salzburg as a licensed local guide. I can tell you that the city doesn’t disappoint with beautiful historic accommodations and rich heritage.
Salzburg is home to some of the world’s most stunning historic hotels, from grand palaces to charming inns. In this article, I will take you on a journey through my top five favorite hotels as I share their unique stories and features with you. Trust me, after reading this, you’ll want to book your next vacation to Salzburg just to experience these hotels.
Hotel Sacher Salzburg: Timeless Classic with a Sweet Legacy
The Sacher Hotel Salzburg has a history dating back to the second half of the 19th century. Carl Freiherr von Schwarz, a businessman, built the hotel, known initially as the Österreichischer Hof (Austrian court), next to the Staatsbrücke bridge and the meeting point of our Free Walking Tour. The land for the hotel was gifted to him in recognition of his efforts in regulating the river.
In the years that followed, the hotel became a popular destination for the wealthy and elite, attracting guests from all over Europe. However, during the Second World War, the hotel was requisitioned by the occupying American army and used as a hotel for officers.
After the war, the hotel fell into disrepair and needed significant renovation. In 1988, the hotel was sold to Peter Gürtler, the owner of the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Gürtler recognized the hotel’s potential and decided to renovate it and turn it into the luxurious hotel it is today.
Today, the Sacher Hotel in Salzburg is one of the most exclusive and luxurious in Austria, and one of only two five-star superior hotels in Salzburg, attracting guests from all over the world. Many of the performers of the Salzburg Festival, politicians, and other celebrities such as Julie Andrews, Tom Hanks, and Mel Gibson were their guests and continue to frequent the place.
Sidenote: Sacher hotels are known for their luxury and exclusivity, but you might have heard the name Sacher in association with the cake – a chocolate and apricot jam delicacy that is one of Austria’s most famous sweets. If you’re interested in learning more about the Sacher cake and the best desserts in Salzburg, check out our article on the topic.
The historic Hotel in Salzburg boasts one of the largest private collections of art and antiques, with many of the pieces dating back to the Habsburg era. The hotel’s grand ballroom is a particular highlight, with its high ceilings, ornate chandeliers, and beautiful frescoes. The hotel also has several luxury suites, each uniquely decorated and offering a different experience.
The Sacher Hotel is also renowned for its excellent service. The staff is highly trained and dedicated to ensuring that each guest has a memorable experience.
In conclusion, The Sacher Hotel in Salzburg is an actual luxury experience. From the grand architecture and decor to the impeccable service and exclusive atmosphere, it’s no wonder it has become a favorite among the rich and famous. Whether you’re visiting Salzburg for the music festival or simply looking for a luxurious getaway, staying at the Sacher Hotel is an experience you’ll never forget.
Schloss Leopoldskron: Palace with a History of Royalty and Film Fame
Schloss Leopoldskron is a historic castle on the outskirts of Salzburg that is not just known for its rich history but also for its role in one of the most beloved movies of all time, The Sound of Music.
This grand castle was used as one of the main filming locations for the iconic movie. Even today, even if the garden of Leopoldskron Castle is off-limits for tourists, fans of the film flock to the castle to see the famous filming location. The tour buses and bike tours stop on the opposite side of the lake to see the castle from afar.
If you love the Sound of Music and think you are an expert, here are 25 facts and a quiz about the movie, and here is a guide to the filming locations of the Sound of Music in Salzburg.
But there is more to Schloss Leopoldskron than just its movie history. The castle was built at the beginning of the 18th century by an archbishop for his nephew, who filled it with art and reconstructed it in a classicistic style. Schloss Leopoldskron was the last of many countrysides castles the price archbishops built for themselves and their families.
At the beginning of the 19th century, it was inhabited by Max Reinhard, one of the founders of the Salzburg Festival. However, during the Nazi era, the castle was occupied and used for various purposes.
After the war, the castle was returned to the inheriters of Max Reinhard, who then sold it to the Salzburg Seminar, an American non-profit organization. Today, the castle serves as a hotel and conference center and is a popular destination for travelers looking for a unique and historical experience. A stay at Schloss Leopoldskron is unique since it’s the only way to access the gardens and the castle.
During my time as a Rikscha driver, I told my guests they could access the castle without me. The gate was always open, but I would not have been allowed to bring them there. When I first started working in tourism a decade ago, accessing the garden was still possible. Now it isn’t at all possible. They became strict because many people entered the private garden in search of the origins of the Sound of Music.
So, if you’re a history buff who likes to take a walk around the lake, and especially if you are a fan of The Sound of Music, Schloss Leopoldskron is a must-see destination in Salzburg, and the castle hotel is a great place to stay.
Note: You only stay at the actual castle when you book the Suite. Otherwise, you will stay at the Meierhof building, a side building, but you will still be able to explore the gardens featured in the Sound of Music. The interior of the hotel wasn’t. The house’s interior in the Sound of Music was a Hollywood set.
Goldener Hirsch: A Cozy Inn with a Rich History
Regarding historic hotels in Salzburg, the Goldener Hirsch is a true gem. This cozy inn has been around for centuries, with the house first mentioned in 1407, like many buildings in the famous Getreidegasse. In 1564, it opened its doors as an inn under the same name and has welcomed guests ever since.
But let’s talk about the real star of the show – Mozart! The Goldener Hirsch is just a stone’s throw away from his birthplace. Mozart was born just a minute away in Getreidegasse House Number 9, while the Goldener Hirsch is located at House Number 37. This adds a special touch of history and culture to the hotel. Imagine staying at a hotel where Mozart may have walked by, maybe even stopping for a pint of beer at the inn! It’s like living in a historical novel.
Around the Second World War, two decades after the Salzburg Festival, the world’s largest classical music festival, the hotel became a destination for festival guests and artists, thus attracting high society. After all, the concert hall is just a few steps away. The name “Hirsch” means deer. The “golden deer” is accurate since the hotel is a traditional Austrian luxury hotel.
Traditional and luxury in the case of Austria seem like a contradiction since traditional Austrian is traditionally simple, like Lederhosen and countryside living, but the Golderner Hirsch perfectly matches the two qualities. The Goldener Hirsch offers a unique blend of traditional luxury and authentic Austrian charm. The hotel’s atmosphere is cozy, warm, and welcoming, making it the perfect place to relax and soak in the culture and history of Salzburg. Wooden floors, rustic decoration, and antique furniture take you back in time.
In conclusion, The Goldener Hirsch is a true gem among the historic hotels in Salzburg. Its rich history, cozy atmosphere, and authentic Austrian charm offer a unique experience that is not to be missed. Its proximity to Mozart’s birthplace and the Salzburg festival concert hall adds an extra touch of culture and history to the hotel.
Schloss Mönchstein: Medieval Castle Turned Luxury Hotel
When it comes to luxury hotels in Salzburg, Schloss Mönchstein is a true standout. This medieval castle turned five-star superior hotel (the second in Salzburg besides Hotel Sacher) has won multiple awards for being one of the best castle hotels and boasts two Gault Millau bonnet restaurants.
The castle, dating back to 1350, was once owned by wealthy nobility before it became the accommodation for Benedictine monks who ran the first university in Salzburg. Imagine staying in a hotel where scholars and noblemen walked the halls, discussing philosophy and politics.
After the Second World War, the castle was converted into the hotel it is today and has been welcoming guests ever since. Arguably the most luxurious hotel in Salzburg, Schloss Mönchstein offers only 24 rooms and 300m² of wellness on 14.000m², ensuring a truly exclusive and intimate experience.
When the hotel almost went bankrupt in 2005, it was bailed out by the billionaire inventor of the Capri-Sun drink, who took over and renovated the place.
The castle’s location on the Mönchsberg mountain provides guests with stunning views of the city, making it the perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of Salzburg. Imagine soaking in the hotel’s luxurious spa while taking in the view of the city from the castle’s tower.
Bristol: Grand Hotel with a Unique Art Nouveau Style
When it comes to the best historic hotels in Salzburg, the Bristol stands out with its unique Art Nouveau style and rich history. The hotel opened its doors in 1894, but the building dates back to 1619 when Archbishop Paris Lodron opened it as a residence for family members.
When the Bristol opened, it was called the “Electricity Hotel” because it was the first building in Salzburg to have electricity, and it even had its caloric generator to produce and sell electricity. Talk about being ahead of your time!
The hotel’s list of noble guests from the 19th century includes names like the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I, Christopher Plummer, Sigmund Freud, and many others. Christopher Plummer even stayed at the Bristol while the rest of the Sound of Music cast stayed at the Sacher because he loved to play the piano, and the Bristol had one.
Still today, the Sketch Bar, with its open chimney fire, and the Polo Lounge restaurant, with a Gault Millau Bonnet, are meeting points for international high society. Hotel Bristol is not a chain, but there are more than 200 independent hotels worldwide called Bristol because the port city stood for internationality in the 19th century.
While staying at the Sacher will make you feel like a member of the imperial court, the Bristol makes you feel like a nineteenth-century intellectual nobleman. So, if you’re looking for a grand hotel with a unique Art Nouveau style and a rich history, the Bristol is a perfect choice.