It had been three hours since we left Vienna airport and the only sign of life since leaving the motorway had been a deer that had shot across our path as we neared our alpine chalet.

We were lost!

I'd confidently thought I knew how to find our chalet but in the dead of night as we made our way up the mountain road I'll admit I was wrong. As a man it was my duty not to ask for directions but then again there was nobody to ask!

We sensed it was nearby but all we could see through the trees was a black abyss, a clear indication that there was a very large drop to our right.

We'd almost resigned ourselves to sleeping in the car when we spotted a lit lantern indicating we had arrived. It was a relief to finally arrive at 1am to the warmth of the wooden chalet and to a welcome plate of cheese, bread and salami left by our host. We were hit with the wow factor as we walked through through the door to such a modern living space set within a converted barn which definitely had a traditional Austrian feel with its solid wood kitchen tops and wooden beams above us.

Opening Our Eyes to a Stunning View

[caption id="attachment_1890" align="alignleft" width="200"]View from inside the BienenAlm chalet The View (click to enlarge)[/caption]

As we stepped down the stairs bleary-eyed the following morning we were greeted to an amazing green vista through the floor to ceiling window that stretched the length of the chalet. It was only then that we realised how far we had travelled up from the valley the night before.

A lovely woman called Christa arrived with our traditional Austrian breakfast of various meats and an inviting looking pastry.

A combination of her broken English and our complete lack of German (I'm always embarrassed at my lack of a foreign language) meant that our morning meetings were short and sweet.

Deciding to spend our first day chilling out at the chalet we made the ten minute drive down to St Michael to stock up on provisions before settling down to make the most of the mod-cons.

Getting to know the hot tub

[caption id="attachment_1891" align="alignleft" width="112"]The Hot Tub The hot tub (click to enlarge)[/caption]

On the deck outside there was a traditional hot tub that involved setting a fire going in the side and letting it heat up over the day. We stocked it with the pre-chopped wood that lined the back of the chalet and began the task of trying to light it. It took a while but smoke eventually began to bellow from the chimney.

Not knowing how long it would take to heat up we left it burning and kept checking back to see its progress. In the meantime we tested out the sauna upstairs. After roughly five minutes we were overheating and left with beads of sweat running down our faces. I never know how long to stay in saunas after such a short time I felt as though I was about to combust.

The hot tub seemed to have reached the right temperature as I dipped my toe in before submerging myself into it. As soon as my feet touched the bottom I regretted it as only the top half of the tub has warmed up leaving the bottom half of my body hitting the icy water.

I ran back inside and sat in front of the suspended log burning fire for about twenty minutes before I finally gained colour back in my legs.

Now, where's that screen?

[caption id="attachment_1885" align="alignleft" width="200"]Toasting marshmallows Toasting marshmallows (click to enlarge)[/caption]

Deciding to leave it a while long we fiddled with the immense control unit that sat in the corner of the room eventually finding at the click of a button, a previously hidden, projector screen descended from the ceiling. Very Cool! There were a few DVDs set aside and we opted for a Bond movie by the fire.

When we finally returned to the hot tub I tentatively slid in, this time to a nice hot feeling. The gauge on the thermometer read minus 3 degrees but with the hot water surrounding us it didn't feel like it.

Sat with a glass of wine we stared into the night sky where all we could see were the twinkling lights of the constellations. The air felt fresh and clear and I've not been to many places where the stars have been so clear.

We eventually retired back inside to have a go at toasting marshmallows over the log fire with some success. Not exactly camp fire style but delicious all the same.

It had been a day of mixed body temperatures but it was the first time in a long while where I have truly relaxed and the chalet is an ideal place to get away from the crowds.

A truly luxury chalet

[caption id="attachment_1886" align="alignleft" width="200"]Minke the Cat Minke the Cat (click to enlarge)[/caption]

Our stay lasted four nights at the chalet and on leaving we wish we had a few more days. We had spent just one full day around the place with the other two heading into the nearby city of Graz, which is a 30 minute drive south.

With all the mod-cons handy in an old style chalet was the perfect place to relax and I loved the peace and quiet of the area. We also had fun with the chalet's seven cats, especially Minke who would often visit in the morning for a play and a cuddle.

We met Norbert, the owner on our final day who was a really nice guy and has done an amazing job with the chalet. He even gave us a present of a jar of honey made by his own BienenAlm honey bees so we can imagine we are there when we are eating it at home.

Our flights, accommodation, car rental and tour was sponsored by and the chalet BienenAlm can be rented via them. As always all opinions are my own.