Some places exude such powerful creative energy that coolness is bestowed on you just by being there – Parkhotel Mondschein (sister to Hotel Schwarzschmied in nearby Lana) is such a stay. Its cultural cachet is in line with Berlin, but in gloriously Dolomite-edged Bolzano. Artists in residence collab and craft, wellness takes the form of cacao ceremonies and ecstatic dance sessions, global culinary masters oversee event dining, and the hotel’s green grounds are the site of film screenings, talks, gigs, and DJ sets… And yet all this hipness is anchored in heritage elegance, thanks to a historic building – some of which dates back 800 years – and its many original parts and furnishings.
Noon, but flexible for a charge, subject to availability and on request (€30 till 2pm, 50 per cent of the room rate till 6pm). Check-in is 3pm.
Double rooms from £123.72 (€144), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.70 per person per night on check-out.
You can book a room with breakfast included, otherwise it's €25 a guest for a buffet of regional cheese and charcuterie, house-made granola, fresh fruit, and pastries from a local bakery.
A Deluxe, two Doubles, Suite and some Junior Suites are wheelchair-friendly with a step-free shower, there’s a lift to all floors and all public areas except the yoga studio are accessible.
A pool in the park is scheduled for next year.
At the hotel
Park, sauna, gym and yoga studio, concept store, bikes (free) and e-bikes (€30 for a half day, €50 for a full day) to hire, charged laundry service, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: HDTV, Bluetooth Marshall speaker, minibar, yoga mat, bathrobes, air-conditioning, and Susanne Kaufmann bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Interiors are simple yet sophisticated, with herringbone flooring, earthy tones of sage and carmine, hardwood furnishings and stucco detailing. To sit and sigh over mountains, choose the Double Balcony; for all the elbow room, choose the Grand Suite, and for cosy soaking, some Junior Suites have a bath tub in the bedroom.
Foliage frames the slice of turquoise-tiled pool, which is flanked by fringed, olive green umbrellas and ivory sunloungers. It's open from April until October, when Bolzano's temperatures are at their balmiest.
If you aren’t out getting lungfuls of that fresh mountain air, balance your psychic books in the hotel’s studio, where meditation, yoga, tai chi, pilates, and sound-healing sessions are held, alongside cacao ceremonies, ecstatic dance frenzies and lunar gatherings. There’s also a handsome gym (open 24/7) with Nohrd and Rogue equipment, and an aspen-wood sauna heated to 65 degrees (open 2pm to 10pm).
Something creative to beaver away at during your stay, whether it’s a painting, novel, or business plan…
We like the retro wall of keys at reception, and here’s where you can buy artsy books, Susanne Kauffman products, towels, robes, and sweet treats at the hotel’s concept store. There’s also a shop in the studio for sage-smudgers, mats and more.
Kids can stay, but the hotel has a more grown-up feel, with few distractions for younger guests.
There are shades of green here. Some produce for the kitchen hails from land cultivated by sister stay Villa Arnica in Lana, the architects at Studio Biquadra renovated the 800-year-old building with care and coherence (repurposing original materials and furnishings wherever possible), and Earth-kind Susanne Kaufmann bath products are used.
Pick a pew in the park or cosy up by the bar’s fire come winter.
When you’re not in cycling gear or normcore hike threads, keep it very cool – there’s a stylish crowd. But, be led by the hotel’s distinctive decade-mixing look and subtle use of colour.
There’s little formality to breakfasts and light bites in Parkhotel Mondschein’s earth-toned Luna Bar (or out on the park-facing terrace). But there are degrees of decadence, whether you opt for hazelnut- and chocolate-cream-topped crêpes, or smoky, feta-sprinkled shakshuka bowls. Breads and pastries are from the bakery next door; and most other ingredients are sourced from small local suppliers. After breakfast, there’s a tight edit of casual eats till evening, including burgers, burrata, crudités and salads, vegan picks, and cakes under glass cloches. And, every once in a while, a big-name chef will fly in to pop up in the kiosk and wow guests with one-off meals.
When your beers are riddled with umlauts and have names such as Tannenzäpfle, you know you’re in serious drinking territory; but, really, it’s all good fun at Luna Bar, where the atmosphere fizzes like the house Aperol spritzes, French 75s and elderflower lemonades; and Duke Ellington plays when DJs aren’t setting the tone and tunes every Friday night. An alfresco terrace has a kiosk dishing out coffees, wines and cocktails to accompany cinema screenings, art shows, live gigs and more.
Breakfast is from 7am to 11am and then food is served from noon to 10pm. Drinks flow till midnight.
No need to get up sleepy-heads (well, aside from answering the door); breakfast can be in bed from 7am to 11am, and drinks and food till 10pm (for a €10 tray fee).
Parkhotel Mondschein does indeed sit in its own patch of greenery at the historic heart of South Tyrolean city Bolzano/Bozen at the mouth of the Dolomite mountains.
Small regional airport Bolzano is the closest, a 15-minute drive away, with direct routes to some major cities across Europe. Or fly into Verona’s Valeria Catullo Airport or Innsbruck, both around a two-hour drive away. Staff can help with transfers on request.
Bolzano/Bozen is the closest station, just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. It’s well connected too, with direct routes to Verona, Innsbruck, Bressanone/Brixen, Venice and Munich.
Bolzano itself is easily and pleasantly walkable, with many leafy promenades built for this very purpose. Or you could get by with just a bike. You’ll only really need a car for wider explorations of the Dolomites. There’s a garage nearby where guests can park for half-price (ask for the QR code at reception), which comes to €24 a night.
Worth getting out of bed for
Native Bolzaninis (or Boznerins, in German) seem to either spend their days cramming on culture in the many galleries and museums, or fleeing to frolic amid nature – after all, this is the gateway to the Dolomites. But, Parkhotel Mondschein offers a hefty helping of both; talks, book fairs, gigs and wine tastings are held in their leafy park, and you’re within walking and biking distance of city sights, be it the colourful Old Town, noble Piazza della Vittoria or more rural Gries for vineyards and views of the Rosengarten massif. But first, some musing in the legion galleries: start at modern Museion and geometric Fondazione Antonio Dalle Nogare; see fantasies on film at Foto Forum, and an eminent collection at Museum Eccel Kreuzer; and spark creativity hopping between the likes of RU.17, Ar/Ge Kunst, Spazio Cut, and Rorhof. And then acquire artful objets at Victorienne (for French-leaning wearables), Mya Boutique (for insouciant artisanal looks), Oberrauch Zitt (for a mix of trad and modern), and Gius Miniglück on Piazza del Grano (for modish little Smiths).
Then, go all out (outdoorsy, that is). Swim and admire Ettore Sottsass’s 1920s architecture at the Lido di Bolzano, hang out at Parco Semirurali, sunbathe and skateboard at Prati del Talavera, stroll amid an urban forest at Oswald Promenade and exotic greenery at Guncina Promenade, and mountain bike through the hills surrounding lake Monticolo Grande. To see the Dolomites turn pink at sundown, hop on the cable-car to the Ritten/Renon Plateau, 950 metres up. From up here you can also hike to natural monument, the Earth Pyramids, and the viewpoint at the Corno del Renon/Rittner Horn.
Bolzano/Bozen’s regional melting pot of Italian, Austrian and Ladin cultures means a cuisine with delicious diversity (think wurst in pretzels, polenta and dumpling soup, sachertorte…), but overall is hearty mountain-climbing fuel. In case the name doesn’t clue you in, Franziskanerstuben skews Germanic, with roast ox in a wine and cinnamon sauce, veal with potato salad and cranberry jam, goulash with speck dumplings and other filling morsels. While Tree Brasserie punches up paisan dining, serving sharing plates of panzanella, parmigiana and earthy pastas alongside more unusual takes (bonito tartare with passionfruit and green gazpacho, red-wine-scented figs with chocolate and nettle). In Viaggio is very exclusive (serving just 12 guests at a time), and asks you to abide by some rules (smart clothing, no phones), but chef Claudio Melis’ nine-course menu deserves the respect for dishes such as smoke-infused spaghettone with back lemon in citrus water; oxtail tortelli with cocoa in a provolone sauce; and apple with licorice and porcini. For eight types of tapas a day in a 17th-century dining room with sleek modern furnishings, head to ¡Toma!.
Historic on the outside, hip on the inside, the Waag Café has a cosy communal feel that attracts artists, digital nomads and more peckish creative sorts. And, during festival season, tickets are sold here. With owner Santo looking after the pizza dough and Fabiana overseeing desserts, Il Corso has earnt a solid reputation for both. And, for coffee, come hang out under Bogen Bistro’s antique vaulted ceilings and herbaceous hangings.
What Da Picchio (11 Vicolo San Quirino) lacks in space (try to secure a seat in its narrow alfresco spot if you can), it makes up for in creative buzz, drawing an enthusiastic crowd for vegan eats and friendly drinks. And Fischbänke at 28 Via Dr Josef Streiter (formerly a market stall) has gone from funky-smelling to just plain funky, with an eccentric look, laidback service and the many stories of owner Cobo.
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 mediaeval to mid-century hotel in Bolzano/Bozen, a full account of their cobbled-pavement-pounding and mountain-climbing break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Parkhotel Mondschein in South Tyrol…
For an 800-year-old, Parkhotel Mondschein is very with the times. Set in Bolzano/Bozen’s cultured corner of the Dolomites, it’s a place of constant happenings, whether that’s talks, gigs and vintage-film screenings in the parkland; yoga for your face and ecstatic-dance sessions in the movement studio; watching the artists in residence do their thing; or being culinarily courted by a world-renowned chef who’s flown in for a pop-up service. But, it’s also a place of genteel antique repose, if that’s what you’ve come for – original features (wood-panelled ceilings, intricate stuccos, herringbone flooring) have been carefully restored throughout; vintage silver, china and curios hauled out of storage; and rooms painted in the soothing outdoor-in hues of sage and terracotta. It might be a smidge mediaeval, a bit Belle Époque, and a touch art nouveau, with a soupçon of Soho House-style swagger, but the sum of its parts is a boutique-feel stay moving dynamically forward.