Tourist offices invariably keep lists and details of accommodation; some arrange bookings (free, or for a small fee).
Hotels Swing from budget picks to five-star luxury in palatial surrounds.
B&Bs Also called pensions and Gasthöfe; range from simple city digs to rustic chalets in the mountains.
Private Rooms Privatzimmer usually represent great value (doubles go for as little as €50).
Farmstays Well geared towards families. Some only operate during the summer months.
Alpine Huts These go with the snow, opening from roughly late June to mid-September. Advance bookings are essential.
Camping Most resorts and cities have campgrounds, usually in pretty natural settings.
Most hotel rooms in Austria have their own shower, although hostels and some rock-bottom digs usually have an Etagendousche (corridor shower). The better rooms have bath-tubs. Very often a hotel won’t have lifts; if this is important, always check ahead. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are the exception rather than the rule.
Reservations & Cancellations
It’s wise to book ahead at all times. Often a day or two in advance is sufficient, but reserve at least one week ahead to increase the chances of getting into your hotel of choice on Friday and Saturday nights, and during the high season in July and August; book much longer ahead at Christmas, Easter and between December and April in ski areas. Some places require email confirmation following a telephone reservation but many places are also bookable online. Confirmed reservations in writing are binding, and cancellations within several days of expected arrival often involve a fee or full payment.
In some resorts (not often in cities) a Gästekarte (guest card) is issued if you stay overnight. This card may offer discounts on things such as cable cars and admission, so check with a tourist office if you’re not offered one at your resort accommodation.
There are over 400 huts in the Austrian Alps maintained by the Österreichischer Alpenverein (ÖAV; Austrian Alpine Club; www.alpenverein.at) and the German Alpine Club (DAV). Huts are found at altitudes between 313m and 3277m, and may be used by anyone. Meals or cooking facilities are often available. Bed prices for nonmembers are from €20. Members of the ÖAV or affiliated clubs pay at least €10 less and have priority. Contact the ÖAV or a local tourist office for lists of huts and to make bookings.
Austria has some 500 camping grounds that offer users a range of facilities such as washing machines, electricity connections, on-site shops and, occasionally, cooking facilities. Camping gas canisters are widely available. Camp sites are often scenically situated in an out-of-the-way place by a river or lake – fine if you’re exploring the countryside but inconvenient if you want to sightsee in a town. For this reason, and because of the extra gear required, camping is more viable if you have your own transport. Prices can be as low as €5 per person or small tent and as high as €12.
A majority of the camp sites close in the winter. If demand is low in spring and autumn, some camp sites shut, even though their literature says they are open, so telephone ahead to check during these periods.
Free camping in camper vans is allowed in autobahn rest areas and alongside other roads, as long as you’re not causing an obstruction. It’s illegal to camp in tents in these areas.
While in the country, pick up camping guides in bookshops or from the Österreichischer Camping Club (www.campingclub.at) and the useful Camping brochure-map from the national tourism authority Österreich Werbung (www.austria.info), with international representatives.
So-called Bio- or Öko- (‘eco’) hotels are widespread in Austria. Most of them are located outside towns in picturesque settings. Not a few of the hotels have wellness facilities such as saunas and steam baths, and because of their rural location they often have winter skiing and activities. Generally, you will need to have your own wheels – a car or a bicycle – to reach these. Tourist offices keep lists or have a special section in their accommodation listings and on websites. The website www.biohotels.info also has a brief list.
If you have your own transport and want to get away from the towns, staying on a farm is a nice way to get away from it all. You will find lots of conventional Bauernhöfe (farmhouses) in rural areas. Most rent out apartments for a minimum of three nights, but some also have rooms accepting guests for one night. Depending on the region and type of accommodation, the cheapest cost from about €35 per person, going up to about €100 or more per night for a slick apartment with all mod cons.
In mountainous regions you will find Almhütten (alpine meadow huts), usually part of a farmstead. Some of these can be accessed by cable car and road, while the more isolated ones are accessible only by foot or mountain bike on forestry tracks. Most are closed from October to April or May. The huts serve snacks or meals to hikers and mountain bikers, and many offer simple, rustic rooms (usually with shared bathrooms). Full board is sometimes available.
The website www.urlaubaufderalm.com and www.farmholidays.com are good places to look for farmstays, whereas tourist offices can also help with local mountain-top Almhütten.
Austria is dotted with Jugendherberge (youth hostels) and Jugendgästehaus (youth guesthouses). Facilities are often excellent: four- to six-bed dorms with shower and toilet are the norm in hostels, while many guesthouses have double rooms or family rooms; internet facilities, free wi-fi and a restaurant or cafe are commonplace.
Austria has over 100 hostels affiliated with Hostelling International (www.hihostels.com), plus a smattering of privately owned hostels.
Memberships cards are always required, except in a few private hostels, but nonmembers pay a surcharge of about €3.50 per night and after six nights the stamped Welcome Card counts as full membership. Most hostels accept reservations by telephone or email and are part of the worldwide computer reservations system through the HI website. Average dorm prices are about €22 per night.
HI hostels are run by two hostel organisations (either can provide information on all HI hostels). JUFA is a guesthouse organisation with a loose affiliation.
JUFA There are 40 JUFA guesthouses scattered around Austria, any of which can be booked by telephone on a local number, through the central booking service or online. They generally offer a higher standard of facilities than youth hostels and specialise in singles, doubles and family rooms. An average price is about €40 to €60 for a single room with bathroom and toilet, and €35 to €40 per person in a double or family room. No membership fees apply. Prices usually vary by demand.
Hotels & Pensions
The majority of travellers stay in either a hotel or a pension or Gasthof (B&B or guesthouse). All are rated by the same criteria for stars (from one to five stars). Hotels invariably offer more services, including bars, restaurants and garage parking, whereas pensions and guesthouses tend to be smaller than hotels and have fewer standardised fixtures and fittings but sometimes larger rooms.
Budget hotels or pensions consist of functional rooms with cheap furnishings. Most cost under €40/80 per single/double; in many cases you’re better off booking a good hostel room, although they are often more central than a hostel and near the train station. Breakfast is unlikely to thrill. The shower is in the room, but might be a booth.
Most accommodation in Austria is in this midrange category. The majority of singles cost about €60 to €70, doubles €120 to €130 (from about €70/140 for a single/double in Vienna). Expect good clean rooms and a decent buffet breakfast with cold cuts of meat, cheeses, eggs and bread rolls. Usually there will be a minibar and perhaps snacks will be offered; often you have a place to sit or a desk to write on. Internet and either wi-fi or cable LAN is available, often free or inexpensively. Some specialise in catering to seminar guests. Showers and TVs (often flat-screens) are in rooms.
Four & Five Star
Rooms in a four-star hotel or pension are generally larger than a three star and should have better sound insulation as well as contemporary or quality furnishings. Expect decent wellness facilities in a four-star option, premium facilities in five-star hotels.
Rooms in private houses are cheap (often about €50 per double) and in most towns you will see Privat Zimmer (private room) or Zimmer Frei (room free) signs. Most hosts are friendly; the level of service, though, is lower than in hotels.
Ferienwohnungen (self-catering holiday apartments) are very common in Austrian mountain resorts, though it is sometimes necessary to book these well in advance. The best idea is to contact a local tourist office for lists and prices or book online if possible using the local tourist-office website.
Studentenheime (student residences) are available to tourists over university summer breaks (from the beginning of July to around the end of September). Some rooms have a private bathroom but often there’s no access to the communal kitchen. The widest selection is in Vienna, but tourist offices in Graz, Salzburg, Krems an der Donau and Innsbruck can point you in the right direction. Prices per person are likely to range from €20 to €75 per night and sometimes include breakfast.