*My son and I were hosted by Hotel Bär on a press trip with the Austrian National Tourist Office and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. This editorial feature on hotels for kids in Austria is part of a series based on our trip.*
It was ski season when we travelled via Innsbruck to the Austrian Tyrol, where Hotel Bär looks out over the pretty town of Serfaus. Serfaus is the largest town in the holiday resort of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, with over 7,000 beds for visitors, a large ski hire centre, and lifts and pistes running directly in and out of the town. But Serfaus also offers great hiking, biking and warm-weather activities. So as well as family ski holidays, Hotel Bär would make a great base for an Austria summer holiday.
Here’s why we were so impressed with Bär children’s hotel.
Kinder hotels are THE most kid-friendly hotels
Ever wished you could scratch out those disapproving stares when your child does something embarrassing at the dinner table? Pretty much every parent of small children must have been there: managing your unruly offspring so that they don’t disturb the other (child-free) diners. Kinderhotels, a network of 50 establishments in Austria, Germany, Italy, Croatia and Portugal, don’t allow guests without children. So, instead of embarrassment, parents are faced with sympathy. Every single adult guest has a kid in tow. They all ‘get it’.
Child friendly hotels cover the finer details
Bär, and its partner hotel, Löwe, also in Serfaus, both earned themselves five ‘smileys’, the highest accolade on the Kinderhotels ranking system. I could see why Bär had been given this plaudit. There were so many details to help make life easier for parents, from baby-friendly toiletries, a potty, and a stool to reach the sinks in the bathroom; to a fleet of buggies and baby backpacks for guests to borrow. Baby monitors meant that parents could have a proper adult meal in the dining room, and for the older kids, a wide menu of mocktails was on offer. Waiting staff were even on hand to sterilise baby bottles while guests dined.
The best hotels for kids give parents room to breathe
So, primed and ready for a ski trip in the beautiful Alps, my son and I were anticipating a pretty relaxing stay at our hotel. At nine, my son was one of the older children at Bär. We travelled during Austrian term time, which may have been why the place was very tot-heavy. But the toddlers all seemed to be having a glorious time, tottering around, giggling, and clustering around Murmli, the big, furry Serfaus mascot who spent his time parading around the mountains, and dropping into the resort’s many child-friendly hotels.
Childcare at Hotel Bär
In fact, for a hotel full of kids, Bär seemed pretty calm and quiet. This could have been down to the childcare, which ran for six days a week on a drop-in basis, from 8.30am till 9pm. Children aged between three and six could let off steam in the Mini Club. Our hotel welcome folder included a packed itinerary, with kids able to spread their time between shows in the hotel’s small theatre, playing on the five-storey soft-play tower, or taking part in aquadoodle, dancing or face painting. The over-6s had their pick of daily activities like magic school, or bath bomb-making. Older children could head out for supervised fun in the ‘Murmlipark‘ just outside the hotel, with toboggan runs and a snowy obstacle course in winter.
Spa and gym
We had just two full days in Serfaus so my son didn’t try the childcare, opting instead to spend his time learning to ski. One afternoon, I left him in the capable hands of our instructor and nipped back to join the other parents, de-frazzling in the saunas, steam room and jacuzzi of the hotel spa. I’d given myself a thorough workout on the snowy slopes, so I didn’t feel the need to try the gym, whose mountain view was just the thing for inspiring action on rainy days.
The family rooms at Hotel Bär were colossal. The 120m² penthouse suite even included a sauna. Our room was a 60m² Smiley suite, with a balcony, double bed, and separate bunk room for the children.
Our suite was equipped with slippers and robes, with a pint-sized blue gown laid out on my son’s bunk. It was lovely to be able to sit on the sunny balcony when we first arrived, to take in the mountain scenery and breathe in some crisp, fresh air.
After my son had fallen asleep in his separate bunk room, I took the chance to grab some precious child-free time. I spent a couple of hours catching up on messages at the workstation, which had plenty of sockets for charging devices. A wide-screen HDTV showed a range of European channels, including a couple of English-language news channels. A choice of two sitting areas, both with small tables, gave me lots of lounging options.
There was BAGS of storage space, in wardrobes, cupboards and shelves. A whole family of four could easily have fit into the large, elegant bathroom, with its floor-to-ceiling stone tiling, walk-in waterfall shower, double sinks and big bath (with a generous bottle of bubble bath). If you’d like a short video tour of the Smiley suite, here’s one I recorded when we arrived:
It was ski season when we stayed on a #presstrip in Hotel Bär, in the pretty Austrian town of Serfaus. But the family-friendly Kinderhotel would make a great base for an Austria summer holiday, too. Here's a tour of our huge family room. Check out that mountain view from the balcony! Here's my new post on Hotel Bär: https://pigeonpairandme.com/hotels-for-kids-austria-hotel-bar-kinderhotel-serfaus-tyrol.htmlSerfaus – Fiss – Ladis #wearefamilyHolidays in Austria
Posted by The Pigeon Pair and Me – family travel, kids' culture and London life on Thursday, 25 April 2019
Family hotels need places for children and adults to play together
Not everyone wants to use a kids’ club, and there were plenty of spaces at Hotel Bär where adults and kids could play together. The Mini Club closed on Saturdays, but children were allowed into the club’s ‘play paradise’ with their parents from 1pm to 9pm. Over-6s could play in the 150m² sports hall, which had hoops, nets and goals for basketball, volleyball, football, and badminton.
My son’s favourites were the gaming area, with its pool table, ping-pong, air hockey and pay-per-play video games; and the Clip ‘n’ Climb. We’ve tried the mega-safe Clip ‘n’ Climb system before, here in London, and it was a big hit. Although we didn’t have time to use the safety harnesses to try and scale the 9m high climbing walls at Serfaus, this would be a great activity on a rainy day.
Water World swimming pool at Hotel Bär
On our last morning at Hotel Bär my son and I took a dip in the Jungle Book-themed pool, which was surrounded by Mowgli, Bagheera and other characters from the story. We had the steamy place to ourselves. There was no lifeguard when we swam, but it looked as though babies would be very safe in the sectioned-off shallow area, under parental supervision.
We had a go on the 96m slide, which curled outside the hotel. We could feel the chill as we went out, so we decided not to brave swimming through the swimming pool gate into the outdoor pool. Brr!
The best family hotels feature great food for kids AND adults
Hotel Bär was flexible with its dining options. We woke to a breakfast buffet of bircher muesli, fruit, pastries, cured meats and cheeses; and a chef who cooked eggs or pancakes to order.
We dined out for lunch during our stay, so we didn’t catch the hotel lunch buffet, but one day we made it back for Tyrolean afternoon tea: a colossal spread of cream pastries, doughnuts, fruity flans and chocolate tarts. The kids’ buffet, served at 6.30pm, didn’t follow long behind afternoon tea. Children could take their evening meal in the kids’ club, or with their parents in the dining room. It featured chips, schnitzel, salad, pasta, sausages and a range of other crowd-pleasing menu options. The smiley breakfast chef popped up again, this time to serve ice cream from a large dispenser, which the kids then smothered in berry sauce and sprinkles.
Dinner for the adults was a gourmet feast of rich and delicate flavours. Tuna sashimi with horseradish, seared venison with juniper sauce, hearty meat broth and toffee apple pie with vanilla cream, were all washed down by fine Austrian reds, or crisp white wines. The food really was superb. My son joined us for dinner, but I could imagine that parents of younger children would find it a nice escape to use the hotel baby monitors, and have a couple of hours to themselves in the restaurant, followed by a drink or two in the cosy hotel bar.
How to get to Serfaus
We travelled to Serfaus via taxi transfer from Innsbruck international airport. The journey took an hour. By train, the closest stop is Landeck-Zams station. Public buses run from the station to Serfaus.
Austria with kids: our verdict on Hotel Bär
This was our first time in a Kinderhotel. Both my son and I were impressed with all the facilities on offer to families. Our three-night stay at Hotel Bär gave us a flavour of what it might be like to stay there for a week or more: relaxing, with something to keep each family member happy. All the child-friendly details would take away a lot of the pressures parents feel on a day-to-day basis.
Have you ever stayed in a Kinderhotel? What did you think of it?
For more Tyrol Austria hotels, in Serfaus or elsewhere, see the website of the Austrian National Tourist Office, or Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, who offer a booking service via their site. I’ll be posting more about the region here at the end of summer, so check back then for more about skiing in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis.
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If you would like to read another feature about family friendly hotels in Austria, I’ve also written about Puradies in Saalfelden Leogang, a mountain resort near Salzburg.