Located in the heart of the Dolomites in a year-round destination just two hours from Venice, the ultra charming property Hotel Rosa Alpina has remained in the hands of one family for 78 years. Originally a parish when it was built in 1850, the hotel has an interesting history: During WW1, it was the only public place in the Tyrolean village of San Cassiano and ultimately became a meeting place and respite for the soldiers and officers during the war.
In 1940 the Pizzinini family purchased the European hideaway and it has been family owned and operated ever since, expertly run today by Hugo and Ursula Pizzinini. Epitomizing rustic glamorous chic, the Rosa Alpina, anchored by the three star Michelin restaurant, St. Hubertus, is a must stay for any European in the know (Prince Albert of Monaco being one). In 2009, the year round destination of the Dolomites was formerly designated as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site and the hotel takes great pains to showcase the beauty of its surroundings.
Inviato contributing editor, Romi Howard had the opportunity to check in at the Rosa Alpina for a four night stay with friends this summer:
My husband and I have been talking about going to the Dolomites for a very long time. We love the outdoors, we love to hike, we love the mountains and we love far-reaching places off the beaten path. But getting to the Dolomites is not so easy. We combined this annual summer getaway with pit stops in Lake Garda, Venice and a beautiful stay at the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino. Nonetheless, it was the iconic Rosa Alpina that anchored this trip and it did not disappoint.
I cannot emphasize enough how breathtakingly beautiful the Tyrolean region is. No words can adequately capture the beauty of this place. You literally want to break out singing the Sound of Music soundtrack. The scenery is so breathtaking, it borders on the surreal.
Pulling up to the charming town of San Cassiano (essentially a one street village among six villages that make up the South Tyrolean locale of Alta Badia), Rosa Alpina is positioned very unassumingly. If you’ve never been to the region you would have easily driven by it, which we almost did. It literally sits on the street. It is not grandiose in presence, it just blends into the fabric of the town, which I’m guessing is exactly how they like it to be.
Upon entering the Rosa Alpina, my initial impression was that of an understated and simply elegant place. As we settled in, I began to appreciate to the sophisticated touches that initially went unnoticed: the inviting couches nestled between the check in and the piano bar complemented by local antiques and vintage photographs. The simple yet beautiful bouquets of fresh Alpine flowers that adorned all the tables. The warmth of the various social spaces for guests to enjoy to themselves, accented by wood-paneled ceilings and frescoed walls, that blend seamlessly from one room to another. The crackling fire completes the vibe.
It is all pretty magical.
While the outdoor scenery and activities is what you come for, the hotel itself features many assets that compel you enough to enjoy yourself immensely indoors. A beautifully appointed library and bar, replete with an impressive selection of books, offers guests charming spaces to unwind in front of an inviting open fireplace. Although we were too busy enjoying the outdoors or taking advantage of the spa, there is a state of the art media/cinema room as well as a wood-paneled game room with pool table (there is also a turn table record player if you want to spin your own records). The piano bar, anchored by a fantastic bartending team and featuring the very talented and engaging Mauro Rinaldi was our favorite hangout by far during the evenings.
For those not taking advantage of the hiking but wanting to get some exercise (which you will need after enjoying the meals here), the hotel possesses a fully equipped fitness center with proper facing views onto the breathtaking mountains. One pet peeve of mine when travelling are hotels who leave fitness centers as an afterthought and more often then not relegate their location in the basement with no windows. Fortunately, Rosa Alpina does not make this mistake. A yoga studio with similar views is found adjacent to the gym. Two indoor swimming pools, one for family and one for adults only, abuts a relaxation area. Complimenting the spa services, a marble steam room, Finnish sauna and cold water plunge pool offer guests some post-hiking relief. Don’t miss visiting the spa.
There are 51 accommodations in five different categories at the hotel, ranging from 440 square feet Deluxe Rooms to 624 square feet Suites with separate living areas and wood burning fireplaces, a wonderful touch especially at nighttime when it gets cold. The spacious 538 square feet Loft suites, located in the wooden chalet wing of the hotel, have additional South-facing open terraces as opposed to smaller enclosed balcony style terraces found in the standard and Junior suites. The largest suite is the Penthouse Suite.
All of the accommodations at the hotel are decorated in warm tones with oversized blankets and comforters at the foot of the bed, lots of wooden accents. Alpine floral bouquets in delicate vases dot the room. Blond wood floors permeate throughout. Some bathrooms have slate flooring and glass showers (note: some are more dated then others, one of our only critiques). The rooms, as the public spaces, are warm, cozy and inviting.
Fabio and Enrico at the concierge desk just off the front entrance always greet you with a warm smile. Omar and Matteo at the bar know your drink within hours upon your arrival and have it waiting daily with nibbles upon at cocktail hour. You don’t need to ask. Ursula, the beautifully gracious and stylishly chic proprietor of Rosa Alpina, was always making sure all the guests were continually taken care off. And if you’re so fortunate to eat at St. Hubertus, the hotel’s three star Michelin restaurant, well then you are in for a treat. Chef Norbert Niederkofler and the entire team are just sublime. You may roll our of there at the end of the evening but that’s what hikes are for during the day, allowing you to indulge in a singularly culinary experience. The restaurant’s decor compliments the rest of the hotel. Understated yet elegant.
The next four and a half days at the Rosa Alpina, we enjoyed unparalleled hiking in the area, breathtaking scenery, incredible cuisine in the local restaurants of the neighboring towns as well as the piece de resistance, the three Michelin star onsite restaurant St. Hubertus. The alpine luxury of Rosa Alpina, coupled with its amenities and facilities, made this the ideal holiday to get off the beaten track. A far and welcoming cry from the maddening crowds flocking to the popular summer destinations of Capri, Ibiza or Mykonos.
I cannot begin to tell you how exhilarating it was to hear the stillness of the night in the middle of summer, the crispness of the air devoid of pollutants, and being continuously surrounded by the most astonishing backdrop. Rosa Alpina is a place for reflection, for clarity, for beauty and awe, for rigorous (although at at times punishing) hiking and for post pampering at the spa, for intimacy and giggles coupled with stiff drinks at the bar, for enjoying listening to Mauro at the piano and sumptuous feasts in the evening. It’s a magical place not to be missed.
Photo credits: Hotel Rosa Alpina and Romi and Jeff Howard.
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Hotel Rosa Alpina
When you book your stay at the Rosa Alpina with Inviato, you receive the following perks:
• Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
• Daily Buffet breakfast
• $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
• Complimentary Wi-Fi
Why book Virtuoso?
- Personalized travel assistance
- 24/7 online booking
- Special rates & exclusive offers
- Guaranteed Room upgrade*
- Complimentary full American breakfast
- Early check-in, Late check-out*
- Exclusive on-site amenities (varies by hotel)
- * based on availability on time of arrival