There are times when you instantly see the value of your booking; times that call for gratitude and a pause to appreciate. Stepping onto the balcony of my room at Parkhotel Billroth was one of those moments.
I wasn’t prepared for this 3* hotel in St Gilgen. It looked like the other Austrian hotels I had stayed in; traditional, homely and if I’m honest, a little outdated. Tired from cycling all day, I dragged my luggage up to the third floor and turned the key in the lock. I caught sight of the retro pink towel peeping out from the bathroom as I shuffled inside. Turning around, the sheer size of the room caused me to pay a bit more attention. A double bed, a desk and a seating area, with enough left over space to hold a party. To say it was generously proportioned is an understatement.
Then I glanced up and spied the floor to ceiling windows covering the length of my room. Dusk was creeping in, yet I could still see the huge expanse of water. Like a magpie, I was drawn to the sparkles. Opening the patio door, I tiptoed onto the balcony not wanting to disturb the moment. Silly I know, but I just felt like I didn’t want to lose it.
The lake shimmered under the late evening sun as if was desperately trying to catch my attention. Truth be told, it didn’t need to worry. I clocked this stunner in an instant. Naturally I grabbed my camera trying to capture the prettiness of it all. No luck. It just didn’t do it justice. I made a beeline for my trusty iPhone and tried again. No matter what angle, the camera view just didn’t compare to the real life view.
I gave up and settled on the sofa, feet up and eyes ahead watching the dark night sky roll in. I must have been excited because I woke at an unearthly 6am despite the late night. Wanting to check I hadn’t dreamt the gorgeous view, I grabbed the blanket and wandered back onto the balcony. I must have been in somebody’s good books because the sun was just beginning to rise. I sat out there breathing in the fresh, crisp air and watching the stillness of the lake. The surrounding mountains of Salzburg’s Salzkammergut reflected perfectly in the water.
It was so, so quiet and peaceful. There were no sounds at all. I felt like Mother Nature; serene and calm. Sat on my throne I watched my kingdom (or at least imagined it was my perfectly landscaped kingdom) for what felt like hours. By 8am I ventured down for breakfast. The incredible views were condensed into small windows in the restaurants, yet they still managed to keep my gaze.
Re-fuelled and eager to see the surrounds up close, I explored the gardens. Sweet flowery scents swam through the air and busy bees got down to work. Energetic, but not that energetic I walked past the tennis courts and headed down to the shore. The five minute walk ended up being forty five minutes due to the infinite photo opportunities. I found that even the Austrian trees were thoughtful, with the pretty pink blossom complimenting my outfit perfectly.
By 10am a few other sleepy guests strolled through the streets admiring the chalets and views. I smiled to myself and made a mental gratitude note for the exclusive display I’d seen that morning. Parkhotel Billroth may not be my usual cup of tea in terms of hotel style, but from as little as 75Euros I’d return just for that balcony experience alone. X
What’s your most memorable view? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a hotel?
A big thanks to the Austrian Tourism Board and Headwater Holidays for hosting my cycling trip in Austria. To view ready-made cycling packages (some of which include a stop at this hotel) just click here for more details.