Graz is Austria’s second city and, along with UNESCO recognition for design and culture, it is Austria’s Capital of Cultural Delights.
The unique Mediterranean-style climate makes it ideal for growing fruit and vegetables and there are many local vineyards producing excellent wines. Graz’s best-known product is Pumpkin Seed Oil but perhaps a less well-known local product is truffles. Seven different varieties, including the prized burgundy truffle, have been discovered in local forests by specially trained dogs.
The region’s food and drink is celebrated annually at the Long Table, actually many tables set out in a city square and accommodating 750 diners who are entertained by jazz and folk musicians.
Home for my visit was the Parkhotel. There has been a hotel on the site, on a main route from Hungary, since 1574. For some time it was known as the Golden Pear. In 1867, the new building complex was built and has existed in this form since. The following decades were not good but in 1933 the hotel was acquired by bakers Maria and August Florian. Initial construction of a café soon turned into an extensive renovation, and on 17th March 1934 it was re-opened as the Parkhotel. Maria and August’s grandson, Philipp, is the current owner.
The hotel has 68 rooms and suites and is built in a courtyard style, in the centre of which is a lovely rose garden. A great place to enjoy a summer meal, in winter it hosts a traditional Christmas Market.
Single rooms are from €105 per night, doubles from €130 and suites from €162. Breakfast, which I can personally recommend, is €19. The restaurant also serves dinner, with an average price €50 for a three-course meal. It is one of the best restaurants in Graz and 90 per cent of the diners are repeat local customers.
The bar offers live piano music every Friday and Saturday evening and once a month on a Sunday there are small concerts featuring musicians – students from the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, which is just across the street.
The hotel has a spa with pool, sauna, fitness and relaxation areas and offers cosmetic treatments from Philipp’s wife Liliya, herself a qualified beautician.
Parkhotel Graz, Leonhardstraße 8, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Tel: +43 316 3630 0
The hotel is located in the city’s historical centre and Sankt Leonhard part of Graz, close to many of the city’s attractions and restaurants, including the Opera House and Schauspielhaus. They also have a spacious car park which costs from €10 a night or free if you book with the hotel directly. Vienna Airport is a scenic 2½ hour train ride from Graz. There is also a bus service of similar journey time.
Type of Hotel: 4-Star family run hotel ideal for both business and leisure
Number of Rooms: 68 rooms and suites
Price Band: Mid-range, with single rooms starting from €105 per night, doubles from €130 and suites from €162.
Insider Tip: You can travel free of charge on the trams for three stops in the city centre and two stops outside the centre.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Mike Pickup is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer who writes for national newspapers, magazines and travel trade titles.
Photographs courtesy of Parkhotel Graz and by Mike Pickup