Stillness is a virtue at the family-owned Goldene Rose Karthaus, a Carthusian monastery turned boutique bolthole in the heart of the Senales Valley, where monks lived on mute for almost half a millenia. Alpine to a tee and enveloped by atmospheric pine forests (think Twin Peaks meets Sound of Music) this high-altitude retreat continues to provide spaces of contemplation at every turn. Get hot but definitely not bothered at the elevated Finnish sauna with sweeping views of the pin-drop, pine-studded peaks, or curl up around the open fire at the glass Gloriette pavilion. In the restaurant, rustic wooden walls and low-hanging lamps set the scene for simple South Tyrolean fare, and throw in a trip to the vaulted wine cellar and on-site patisserie and you’ve got a dolce vita antidote sure to mend the most work-weary urbanite.
10am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £194.25 (€224), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.40 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast. Choose from a continental etagere or fuel up with something from the menu.
Flanked by 3,000-metre peaks, the surrounding area was used as the filming location for Baltasar Kormákur’s 2015 film Everest.
The hotel is closed from 16 April to 3 June 2023.
At the hotel
Spa, fitness room, library, herb garden, wine cellar, outdoor terrace, tea pavillion, free Wifi throughout. In rooms: TV, minibar (stocked with homemade chocolate), bathrobes and slippers, laundry service (on request) and a selection of the hotel’s own Glacisse bath amenities.
Our favourite rooms
Decked in cosy, odorant wood with a private terrace overlooking the pines, the Deluxe rooms make a fine base from which to explore the local landscape. The showers are made with natural stone sourced from the neighbouring mountains, and the king-size bed is topped with a Noble mattress. For winter stays, the toasty Junior Suite features its own in-room sauna and hot-water bottles coated with fine loden fabric, but it’s the Penthouse Suite that steals the show; ideal for longer stays, there’s a spacious living room painted in warm sage with original features like stone walls and wooden ceiling beams, as well as a kitchenette, salottino and a rooftop Finnish sauna.
A peak spot for pampering, the tentacular wellness facilities are scattered across the hotel. Start at the intimate spa, where treatments ranging from facials to sports massages are carried out in a minimalist sanctuary of South Tyrolean stone. The hotel uses its own brand of creams and potions, Glacisse, which harness mineral complexes from the depths of Val Senales’ Hochjochferner glacier. Next, take a dip in the Lasa-marble steam bath before clocking-off Finnish-style in the Martell granite ice grotto. At the hotel’s ‘Karthauser Bad’, a wooden walkway delivers you to two saunas; while the Earth sauna is heated with the purest local wood, the treetop Finnish Sauna overlooks the soaring pines from its floor-to-ceiling windows. In the garden, there’s a whirlpool, hot tub and glass Gloriette pavilion, where soft velvet seating circles the roaring fire at its centre. What’s more, in the fitness room you’ll find a stationary bike, yoga mats, exercise balls and wall bars.
A sturdy pair of walking boots and a pre-made playlist of all your favourite podcasts.
In summer, reserve a spot on the pergola terrace for al-fresco dining, Alpine-style.
Von Trapp, revamped; we’re talking romantic blouses and full skirts with just enough flounce for a pre-dinner hillside twirl.
Merging South Tyrolean and Mediterranean flavours, the chefs behind the Golden Rose restaurant are masters of elevated simplicity. With a zero-kilometre philosophy, all ingredients are sourced locally: game directly from the village hunters; dairy from the farmer and vegetables; herbs and garnishes plucked straight from the hotel’s gardens. The regional Knödel dumpling is a particular favourite at the rustic, wooden restaurant, and head chef Karim relishes in re-inventing them for every season. Follow them up with fanciful fare from the daily menu like the Chicory tart with fluffy Rabiola mousse and crispy South Tyrolean speck or a hearty portion of tagliolini with hand-cut duck sugo served with sheep milk ricotta and vitamin-rich black cabbage.
Adhering to the maxim ‘a good wine must always be tasted,’ in-house sommelier Verena is on hand to whet the appetites of weary guests with over one hundred quality wines. From sparkling to dessert, Verena’s wine-tasting tour includes a sampling of up to eight wines, as well as a tour of the underground cellar. But if it’s just a quick tipple you’re after, the stone-clad hotel bar has all kinds of poisons and a patisserie counter to boot.
The restaurant serves breakfast from 7am to 11am; lunch runs from 12 noon to 2pm and dinner from 6:30pm to 9pm. Over at the hotel bar, drinks flow until 11pm.
Goldene Rose Karthaus can be found tucked away in the cloistered mountain hamlet of Certosa, where bella Italia gets Alpine.
Bolzano airport is closest, though flights here are limited. Across the German border, Innsbruck airport services the UK, Europe and the Middle East, as does Verona airport, to the east. More or less equidistant, the journey to the hotel comes in at just over two hours. Transfers for up to eight people can be arranged from €500, but must be booked in advance.
Naturno station is a 10-minute drive from the hotel. Transfers can be arranged for €40 each way. Alternatively, the larger and better connected Merano station is half an hour away by car. From here, Trenitalia runs direct trains across Trentino-Alto Adige, Lombardy and Veneto.
There is a large public car park in the village and the hotel runs a valet service free for guests.
Worth getting out of bed for
The versatile landscape of the Senales valley offers year-round hiking trails that change dramatically with the seasons. One of the most notable is the Via Monachorum trail, which conveniently starts at the hotel’s doorstep. Offering guests the opportunity to indulge in quietude, the trail is dedicated to the power of silence and is signposted using life-sized figures of monks and thought-provoking quotes about inner-peace and serenity. While you’re feeling mindful, the intimate village chapel, tucked away in a forested clearing is a serene spot for meditation. Snow sports reign from late September to May. The nearby Maso Corto cable car is a short walk away in the neighbouring village of Unser Frau im Schnalstal and carries you all the way to Val Senales Glacier skiing area, where there’s the cross-country ski and toboggan runs at altitudes exceeding 3,000 metres. In the Valley, mountain meadows and natural parks are punctuated by glaciers and picnic-perfect spots like the blue waters of Lake Vernago. The hotel can organise a range of activities, too. Take a Garda-bound sailing excursion with the owner Paul Grüner in an antique boat that once belonged to Death in Venice scribe Thomas Mann, or hike Mount Grawand where a glacial installation by Olafur Eliasson maps the sun’s movement across the sky.
Housed in a 16th-century farmhouse overlooking the valley, the family-owned Oberraindlhof is one of 32 local restaurants in the ‘Südtiroler Gasthaus’ group, whose focus is on preserving South Tyrolean culture through food. Try the pasta della Val Senales with lamb ragu and roasted carrots or opt for the hearty veal steak with fried onion, mashed potatoes and pea tart. Restaurant Pizzeria Tonzhaus uses Alpine herbs like chanterelles or stinging nettles to whip-up a mountainous take on Italian cuisine. For a modernised spin on the region’s classics, Ladurner’s contemporary kitchen has you covered, with themed weeks focusing on fish, steak and game.
Green pastures surround Penaud alm, South Tyrol’s highest farm which straddles the Schnals at an altitude of 2,323 metres. Yes, you’ll quite literally have to trek there, but the rewards are plenty with fresh cheeses made on site and a selection of products to take home, too. Order the Dochbrett, a smorgasbord of the best Alpine delicacies.
Blink and you’ll miss Unterpifreil Imbiss, a tiny Alpine hut just off the main road serving beer, wine and soft drinks from the valley.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this high-altitude hotel in the Dolomites and unpacked their well-worn hiking boots, a full account of their boutique break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Goldene Rose in South Tyrol…
Just like the original residents of this 14th-century Carthusian monastery, the Goldene Rose trades in stillness. While you’ll no longer be summoned into a vow of silence, you may find yourself voluntarily compelled to; Certosa’s cloistered mountain hamlet inspires quietude with its dramatic peaks and endless pines, tranquil chapels and old-world village vibes. Offering urbanites a fine antidote to the haste of modern life, the expansive spa facilities will have you saying namaste quicker than you can switch off your smartphone. Some like it hot, and that's mostly true here, with burning log fires and in-room hot water bottles. But taking a queue from their Nordic neighbours, the hotel in fact prefers things hot, then cold, then hot again – with multiple saunas, an ice grotto and two outdoor baths. Oenophiles are well catered for with a plentiful wine cellar featuring a range of local vintages and biodynamic numbers, and for those with a sweet tooth, Mirko, the hotel’s pastry chef, rolls out sculpted, saccharine treats morning till night.