Goldener Hirsch (Salzburg; tel. 800/325-3535 in the U.S., or 0662/8084; www.starwoodhotels.com): For some 6 centuries, this mellow old hostelry has been welcoming guests to its patrician precincts. With the city's best and most professional staff, the Goldener Hirsch is the finest hotel in Salzburg. In the Old Town, near Mozart's birthplace, the building is a historical monument, rich in legend and lore. Although rooms vary, all are furnished with antiques, in traditional taste, but have modern plumbing and appointments.
Hotel Bristol (Vienna; tel. 888/625-5144 in the U.S., or 01/515160; www.westin.com/bristol): Facing the Staatsoper, this classic six-story building is a Viennese symbol of luxury and class. It ranks with the Imperial as the city's most glamorous hotel. The luxuriously appointed and often exquisite rooms boast a cornucopia of amenities. Velvet and silk, chandeliers, and double doors adorn the place, and the ever-attentive, gracious staff adds to the allure.
Hotel Grüner-Baum (Badgastein; tel. 06434/25160; www.grunerbaum.com): A veritable village has grown up around this converted hunting lodge. The family-run hotel has sheltered everybody from Toscanini to the shah of Iran. Scattered chalets house some of the finest rooms at this fashionable spa -- each in the typical alpine style. The hospitality is unequaled in the area.
Hotel Imperial (Vienna; tel. 800/325-3589 in the U.S., or 01/501100; www.luxurycollection.com/imperial): Once a ducal palace, and now Vienna's most glamorous hotel, the Imperial is a landmark 2 blocks east of the Staatsoper. Built in 1869, it's Austria's official "guesthouse," often hosting visiting musicians (Wagner stayed here long ago). A wealth of antiques adorns the gracious public areas, and everything is gilt-edged, from the polished marble to the glittering chandeliers. Opulently appointed rooms vary in size but are generally regal.
Hotel Schloss Dürnstein (Dürnstein, along the Danube; tel. 02711/212; www.schloss.at): Near the medieval village in Wachau, this fairy-tale castle is perched above a bend in the river. Above the hotel are the ruins of a castle where Richard the Lion-Hearted was imprisoned. This exquisite gem of a hotel brims with history, glamour, art, and fantasy.
Hotel Schloss Fuschl (Hof bei Salzburg; tel. 06229/22530; www.starwoodhotels.com): East of Salzburg, this medieval castle and its outbuildings have origins dating from 1450. Everybody from Eleanor Roosevelt to Khrushchev has stayed in this rich, lush setting of oriental rugs, antiques, fine art, and vaulted ceilings. Diners sit on a terrace taking in panoramic lake and alpine views. The spacious rooms are beautifully furnished and well maintained. Sports lovers feel at home with a 9-hole golf course, indoor pool, and Turkish bath and sauna.
Grand Hotel (Zell am See; tel. 06542/788-0; www.grandhotel-zellamsee.at): Three "grand hotels" have stood on this site over the years, and the latest incarnation is the grandest of them all. Windows open onto incredible views of the lake and the Alps. Flanked by pillars, the glassed-in pool also offers lake views, and the hotel has an array of facilities ranging from a gym to a sauna. The contemporary rooms, which vary in size and design, are the best in town.
Romantik Hotel Post (Villach; tel. 04242/261010; www.romantik-hotel.com): With architectural origins from 1500, this is the most fabled hotel in Carinthia. A hotel since the 1730s, it's a cozy and charming retreat on the town's main square. A pianist plays on the terrace in summer. Rooms are richly furnished, often with oriental rugs on parquet floors, including the suite where Emperor Charles V once slept in the 1500s. A solarium, gym, and sauna keep the hotel up to date.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.