Hotels in Salzburg Old Town
Those who seek the best accommodations will find them at the Altstadt Radisson SAS. Located between Rudolfskai, which fronts the river, and the pedestrian-only Judengasse, the hotel has entrances on both streets.
It's current site encompasses three ancient Salzburg addresses and the ground on which it stands was once the Höllbräu, an inn and brewery. A Jewish synagogue may also have stood on the site in the late 14th century and excavations for the current structure turned up parts of the wall that encircled the town in the 12th century.
Though corporately-owned, the Altstadt has made a conscious effort to keep the atmosphere of a small, intimate inner-city hotel. Its entrance from Judengasse is via a simple arched doorway over which hangs the traditional, Salzburg decorative wrought iron sign. There is no uniformed doorman. The reception area is small but very elegant with a patterned granite tile floor, recessed lighting and a richly burnished dark wood check-in counter.
Standard doubles are on the small side but solidly appointed. In the "Superior" category, Number 408 retains the old rough beams of one of the earlier structures that occupied the site. "Deluxe" rooms, such as Number 310, are simply larger with a separate sitting area.
On the Rudolfskai side of the building, the hotel's long, narrow Restaurant Symphony (also the breakfast room) is lined with windows which overlook the river about 60 feet below. A few of the restaurant's tables are in an adjoining glassed-in porch that hangs high above the Salzach.
At several times during the year the Altstadt offers a special three-nights-for-the-price-of-two arrangement that includes an upgrade to a deluxe room, one dinner, and a welcome cocktail.
Though it may lack some of the old world charm of the famed Goldener Hirsch, the Altstadt is our first choice in Salzburg.
Double rooms start at about $250
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 10/20
If you've ever been to a once-popular but now-fading restaurant or bar whose walls are adorned with pictures signed by athletes and politicians from another era, you know what's going on at the Elefant. The $20 check written by Maria von Trapp displayed under-glass at the reception counter has that same feel.
This was once a lovely hotel, but that's been several years and a few hundred tour groups ago, though it did get a much-needed buffing in 2002. Furnishings are of good quality, the reception area floor is that wonderful old herringbone hardwood pattern, there are some nice Oriental rugs, and many guestrooms have been wallpapered; the charm is still there, it just could be so much more.
Small doubles start at about $185 per night. Based on three visits we are lukewarm on the Elefant. It doesn't seem to get any better, just more expensive.
Contact: Hotel Elefant, Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse 4, A-5020 Salzburg, tel. +41/0662/843397, fax 84 0109-28
Rating: Quality 9/20, Value 5/20
Management at the more country Weisse Taube is much friendlier and more helpful than at the Elefant, plus the prices are lower. With doubles from €96-169, it's a better value. But here, too, there is a maintenance problem; it's time for a little urban renewal.
Rating: Quality 7/20, Value 5/20
Hotel Blaue Gans
Over the past several years this simple hotel, which is next door to the very grand Goldener Hirsch, has morphed into one of Europe's many "art" hotels with a website that is a triumph of style over substance. Whatever the theme, the rooms are small, the service indifferent and the maintenance merely adequate. And with doubles from €139-199, it is no bargain.
Contact: Hotel Blaue Gans, Getreidegasse 43, A-5020 Salzburg, tel. +43/0662/84 2491, fax 8424919
Rating: Quality 8/20, Value 6/20
In 1988 we picked the Wolf as the Salzburg hotel which offered the best combination of value and comfort. We even included it in our book, The 50 Best Country Inns and Small, City Hotels of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Were we to compile another such list, however, we could not include the Wolf. The rooms are rather Spartan and quite small. We still prefer it, however, to the Weisse Taube, Elefant, or Blaue Gans-and its prices much lower. Doubles are €80-138.
Contact: Hotel Wolf, Kaigasse 7, A-5020 Salzburg, tel. +43/0662/84 34 530, fax 8424234.
Rating: Quality 10/20, Value 10/20