Super-cool eco-retreat in Italy’s South Tyrol, mixing über architecture, frosted Alpine peaks and a spa with altitude”
Designed by Milan-based architect Matteo Thun, it’s straight out of the pages of Wallpaper*: a 21st-century take on the Tyrolean lodge, with two decks of rooms housed in low rectangles of glass, clad in horizontal bars of larch. Inside, all is crisp clean-cut geometry and warm earth colours, big vistas and glittering quartz striped with sunlight and shade. From the huge cow hide sofas in the lobby, travel along runways of gallery-like space to the piazza, and on to the spa with a springwater infinity pool. Wander up to the panorama terrace and watch the sunset or the dawn. Like all proper resorts, everything you need is right outside the door.
- An exercise in holistic ‘ecotecture’, this linear building is a work of art
- Hanging out in the piazza – the sunken, sunlit courtyard at Vigilius' heart, lined with plush red sofas
- Bathing in the spa’s frothy al fresco hot tub under a blue sky or a canopy of snowy pines – absolute bliss
- Two excellent restaurants: choose between haute cuisine and rustic Tyrolean fare
- No roads, no traffic, just the distant sound of cow bells – a complete escape
- Prepare to feel isolated - but you do get unlimited use of the cable car and chairlift during your stay
- If you are expecting a typical Italian ambiance, you may be surprised: South Tyrol is bilingual Italian-German, with scenery more reminiscent of Austria
- If you don't like minimalism, you may find the interiors a bit pared down
- The WiFi gets turned off at night, but not until 11pm (plus no phone use permitted in communal areas - the focus here is on a digital detox)
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Spa Hotel
- 41 rooms and suites
- Children aged 6 and under only
- Open all year
- Indoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The hotel’s 41 rooms are classed as Superior and Deluxe, though the only real difference between the two is the views. Both offer 36 sq.m. of cool designer space, furnished in an unfussy Nordic style big on wood floors and natural materials.
Each has an entrance vestibule with storage space, a sleeping area with kingsize Orizzonti bed, armchairs, desk, and a bathroom tucked behind a low wall of textured concrete. The whole thing is more or less open-plan, except for a glassy shower cubicle and a separate space-age loo. There's no TV - enjoy the views instead (or ask for one to be brought to your room from reception).
Every room has a bit of outdoor space (balconies on the first floor, terraces on the ground), a dash of warm colour (red upholstery and stripes of orange lighting) and amazing alpine views.
The slightly cheaper Superiors are mostly on the ground floor; ours (209) got the sunlight filtered through a curtain of larch foliage, making it very private. Floor-to-ceiling windows maximise the views, but the coy might want to pull the drapes to after sunset. The first-floor Deluxes look out either to the jagged peaks of the Dolomites or the mountains above the Ultimo Valley.
Irrespective of the views, the rooms manage to mix clean-cut modern with cosy comfort zone, and we loved the sense of space, the quality of light, the leather chairs in the Deluxe rooms, and the timber clad bath tubs designed by Matteo Thun.
There are also six Suites: very similar in layout and design, but with twice the space (72 sq.m.), half of it given over to a living-dining area furnished with plush sofas and rustic Tryolean tables and chairs.
All rooms and suites are equipped with WiFi, luxury bath robes and slippers (for padding around between the room and the spa), soft white-clad duvets (one per person), toiletries, minibar and blankets (use them as a wrap while staring at mountains, or pine trees, on a chilly evening on the terrace).
- Central heating
- Extra beds
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
There are two places to eat, both housed in a chalet-style wing: a remodelled 18th-century stable that has been incorporated into the new building. The posher of the two, Restaurant 1500, is on the glassy upper level and has fab views, while the more folksy Stube ida is on the ground floor, with tables spilling out onto a wide sunny terrace.
For a special treat, book a table at Restaurant 1500 and expect candlelight, linen-clad tables, fine wines and impeccable service. There's a mix of three, short daily menus - Alpine, Mediterranean and Vita (vegetarian/vegan). Alpine dishes are locally inspired and meat-heavy: we had beef tartare, guinea fowl, barley minestrone and pork knuckle soup; the Mediterranean options centred around fish (we ate marinated sturgeon, roasted cod and spinach). Gluten-free options are available.
For a really special treat, you can opt for the chef's table - a unique experience to watch the restaurant service from a table in the corner of the kitchen. The chefs introduce each dish on a nine-course tasting menu (think lobster tortello, scallop tartare, mushroom consommé and more). We thought it was definitely worth the splurge, but there are also 'meet and greet' sessions with the chefs some evenings, plus behind-the-scenes tours.
Downstairs, the less expensive Stube ida is cosier, more rustic and less formal, with wood panelling, Heidi chairs, bow-tied gingham at the windows and a blue-tiled stove; perfect for wintry days as it closes as 6pm. The food here is South Tyrolean with a dash of traditional Italian. The menu includes soups, generous salads, pasta (lamb shoulder with papardelle, for example) and inexpensive wines served by the glass (or the carafe).
Breakfast, served in Restaurant 1500, is a buffet-style banquet of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, cereals, breads and pastries, hams and local cheeses, as well as a variety of hot dishes to order.
Complimentary afternoon teas are served in the piazza in the afternoons, as well as complimentary aperitivo with canapes from 6pm. Wine festivals are also held on occasion at the hotel, so check for upcoming dates if you want to tie one in to your next visit.
If you want a change of scene, take the chairlift up to the mountaintop, where there’s a cheerful bar-restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley; or take the cable car down to Lana, where there are restaurants, cafes and patisseries.
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Hang out in the spa – the mountain-view infinity pool, the steamy indoor-outdoor whirlpool and the go-naked sauna and "vapour" room
- Book a luxury treatment– the basics are a vigilius body massage and facial but there are dozens more to choose from: Shiatsu, Watsu and the more unusual Hay Bath or Apple Polenta Peeling
- Make use of the hotel’s daily programme of supervised exercise sessions (you will find a list in your room), which might include Nordic walking, yoga, pilates, mountain bike tours, archery or a “Torso Intensive”. All these activities are offered at no extra cost
- Hop on the chairlift, and glide up the mountain where there are woodland walks, exhilarating views and, in winter, the Vigiljoch ski slopes - ideal for beginners and improvers (the hotel’s instructor is a former Italian downhill ski champion)
- Among winter sports on offer at vigilius, try snow-shoeing, cross-country or Alpine skiing and hiking
- The hotel can arrange paragliding sessions, tours of the vineyards at nearby Merano and supercar hire (go for a Ferrari) among other activities
- Take the cable car down to Lana where there are good shops, cafes and restaurants
- From Lana, explore the surrounding Val d’Adige, the Val d’Ultimo and the thermal spa town at Merano (8km)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Plantlife / flora
- Well being
Younger children under the age of 6 are welcome, though it's rare that kids come here at all: there’s not a lot for them to do, and it's worth bearing in mind that the architect Matteo Thun set out to create a "luxury playground for adults".
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Vigilius is 1500m up on Vigiljoch Mountain, accessed via cable car from the valley town of Lana, 8km south of the spa town Merano. The only way for guests to get to the hotel from Lana is by cable car. (Or on foot; there is a driveable track, but only for locals with a permit.)
Bolzano (25km) has a small domestic airport, offering flights to and from Rome. Verona, Italy, and Innsbruck, Austria (both roughly 170km or a 2-hour drive) are the nearest interational airports, with good connections from all major European cities. Milano Bergamo airport (250km) is a further option.
From the Airport
It's easiest to hire a car, though bear in mind that you will have to park it at the (secure) cable car station at the bottom. You won't be needing it much during your stay.
See our car rental recommendations. If flying into Austria, make sure your hire company permits border crossings.
The nearest station is at Merano, 8km to the north. From there you can grab a cab to Lana.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to Italy and getting around
- Bolzano 25.0 km BZO
- Innsbruck 170.0 km INN
- Beach 200.0 km
- Shops 8.0 km
- Restaurant 8.0 km