Hotel Ritsch sits in the heart of Alpe di Siusi, offering the perfect starting place for an adventure-filled holiday on Europe’s largest Alpine plateau. Here, amid the wild dance of meadows and jagged teeth of the Dolomites, you will find the kind of modest charm and genuine warmth that’s increasingly scarce in our hyper-polished world.
The best part of travel is finding a place that feels like it’s been waiting just for you. It’s a rare, almost mystical feeling, this instant sense of belonging. And the kind of thing you learn not to brush off. That’s exactly what hit us when we first laid eyes on Hotel Ritsch, gracefully perched on a hillside, during a long, meandering hike across Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) last autumn.
The hotel’s exterior, with its weathered wooden charm and balconies adorned with a cascade of blooming flowers, seemed to extend a silent, welcoming call to us. It spoke of honest, home-cooked meals and a place where the pace of life mirrors the surrounding mountains. As we trekked on, the magnetic connection with Hotel Ritsch, lingered in our minds, like a hauntingly beautiful melody that you can’t quite shake off. We knew we had to book a stay.
Months later, when we finally made our way back, it was like walking into a scene from a familiar dream. The hotel, picturesque as ever, welcomed us like old friends returning to a favorite haunt. Our initial enchantment was not only met but exceeded.
Farm, Family, Mountain – A Legacy of Hospitality
At its heart, Hotel Ritsch is a touching blend of farm, family, and mountain, all wrapped in traditional Tyrolean hospitality. The moment you walk onto the grounds of the property, you can tell it is a place with soul. There’s an unmistakable warmth. Not the manufactured warmth you find in glossy travel brochures, but the genuine, heartfelt kind. The kind that makes you feel like you’ve come home, even if you’re an ocean away from it.
You are not greeted with the sterile, practiced smiles of a five-star establishment, but with the inviting smiles of the Malfertheiner family who have poured their hearts into Hotel Ritsch since its inception more than 60 years ago. They are trailblazers in South Tyrol — pioneers who made the magic of Alpe di Siusi accessible to mountain lovers all over the world.
The roots of this place are humble yet fascinating — it began as a dairy farm before blossoming into the restaurant and hotel it is today. But the Malfertheiners ensured every inch never lost its pastoral persona. The property has retained its authentic character from floor to beam. Not to mention the gorgeous Tyrolean barn out back still full of happy cattle.
The design is a mellow embrace of warm woods, soft furnishings, and vintage accents that reflect the rich history of the region. Handcrafted alpine furniture, lovingly preserved artifacts, and walls decorated with family heirlooms, and local art create an atmosphere that is both cozy and steeped in tradition.
And let’s talk about the celebrities you will encounter… on the walls that is. We were astonished to see a picture of renowned violinist, David Garret, his violin poised mid-stroke as if the melody was still hanging in the air. We later found out he performed at Hotel Ritsch. What an amazing experience it must have been!
Glancing about, whether inside or out, you can feel the Malfertheiner family’s deep-rooted relationship with the land. They have carefully infused every aspect of the hotel with a sense of family — preserving their history and complementing the natural beauty of their surroundings. The ambiance makes you feel that you are not just a visitor, but a part of the plateau’s very own enduring story.
A Vintage Tyrolean Experience
Hotel Ritsch offers a variety of rooms to fit your individual needs and preferences. Whether you’re seeking a snug single room for a solitary retreat, a spacious double for a romantic getaway, or a larger suite to accommodate families or groups, each space ensures a stay that is true to the region.
The Malfertheiner family has managed to strike an idyllic balance between traditional Tyrolean charm — think wood that’s seen more seasons than you’ve had hot dinners — and the kind of modern amenities that don’t scream for attention but are there when you need them. It’s down-to-earth, and exactly what you need after a day out exploring the wilds of Alpe di Siusi.
And let’s talk about the views. Virtually every window at Hotel Ritsch frames a scene that’s better than any postcard you’ll ever send. The landscape stretches out like a canvas, showcasing peaks, pastures, and pines for as far as the eye can see.
Our room faced west, and every evening, it became a front-row seat to nature’s best show. The setting sun poured its golden light across the room, bathing everything in an amber glow that demanded a pause and a moment of appreciation. It was like being inside a glass of bourbon, looking out. We would either take it all in from our balcony or crack open a window and let the mountains do their thing. The sight was always accompanied by a smile-inducing crescendo of cowbells and distant moos. Pure alpine bliss in our book.
Another aspect we adored about Hotel Ritsch was the pleasant nooks it provided in the common area between rooms. These seating areas allowed us to comfortably unwind without feeling confined to our room. It was like a little hidden retreat all its own.
You could sink back with a book, strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler, play a card game, or just sip wine and absorb the eclectic mix of folksiness and quiet chatter. We also used these spaces each day to sprawl out a map and plan our hikes.
Dining Amidst the Dolomites
Dining at Hotel Ritsch is not just about eating; it’s also an intimate communion with nature. Whether you’re satisfying your hunger on the hotel’s sun-drenched terrace or indulging in the Ritsch-Schwaige panoramic restaurant, each bite feels like a celebration of the local landscape. We found the flavors are as fresh as the views are stunning.
The Malfertheiner family doesn’t jet in ingredients from the other side of the world. Instead, they are born and raised in the backyard and surrounding valleys. The beef, the rich butter, the creamy milk — it all comes straight from their farm, embodying a “from nose to tail” ethos that’s both simple and profound. Hotel Ritsch honors every part of the animal, ensuring nothing goes to waste.
The herbs and vegetables that add bursts of goodness to each dish are plucked from the hotel’s garden or handpicked from the nearby Pflegerhof Farm, South Tyrol’s pioneering organic herb farm, managed by a cousin of the Malfertheiner family. This creates a novel culinary circle that connects the plate directly to Alpe di Siusi region.
Every dish we enjoyed, whether at breakfast or dinner, pulsed with local flavor thanks to the honest labor of hands that work the land. It was a welcomed reminder of what food is supposed to taste like. Adding to this rich culinary journey was Steffi, the daughter of the Malfertheiner family, who is not only a part of the hotel’s legacy but also a skilled sommelier. Each evening, she recommended excellent wines that nicely complemented our meals. Her selections brought out the subtle nuances in each dish, making every morsel sing… well yodel to be exact.
But as we discovered wine is not the only wonder to relish when dining at Hotel Ritsch. Michael, the son of the Malfertheiner family, produces a fantastic gin, known as WILD CRAFT, that is like drinking the alp itself on a crisp autumn morning.
According to Michael, it’s steeped in the wild, untamed spirit of the Alpe di Siusi, with botanicals hand-foraged right from the surrounding wilderness. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill gin; it’s a foray into the heart of the Dolomites where the mountains are distilled into your glass.
A Soul-soothing Alpine Paradise
As a 3-star property, Hotel Ritsch does not have an expansive wellness area. But to be honest, with such staggering natural beauty all around you don’t need an arsenal of modern spa amenities to disconnect from the grind of daily life.
Still, Hotel Ritsch does have its own little sanctuary for unwinding. The “Alpenparadies” wellness area, while not grand, is a pocket of serenity. It’s scented with fresh herbs and decked out with Tyrolean relics lit by the soft dance of candlelight. In this gentle glow, we had no problem letting the world fade away.
In addition to the comfy lounge areas, Hotel Ritsch offers a traditional wood sauna that heats up to a steamy 194°F (90 °C). After a day of pounding the trails, especially our grueling hike to Alpe di Tiers — a hut perched like a crow’s nest atop Alpe di Siusi — this sauna was a godsend. Its intense heat, a stark contrast to the brisk jolt of fresh mountain air, was the magical remedy to soothe our aches and prepare our bodies for another day of adventure.
Next to the sauna is also an herbal steam bath room. Here, you’re enveloped in a fragrant mist that’s been kissed with organic herbs from the Pflegerhof Farm — the same farm we mentioned earlier. It’s like a herbal lullaby for the senses. Every breath eases your mind and soothes your soul.
Where Each Day Begins & Ends in Wonder
The real magic of Hotel Ritsch lies beyond its walls. After all, the great outdoors is the reason why many come to Alpe di Siusi in the first place. The property serves as the ideal launchpad into a landscape that’s nothing short of epic. Some of the best hiking and cross-country skiing trails in Europe lie right at Hotel Ritsch’s doorstep.
Of course, these trails can be conveniently reached via lifts beneath the plateau, but as we learned, if you really want to appreciate the splendor of Alpe di Siusi, you need to stay overnight on the alp itself. It changes everything. Transforming your visit from a fleeting handshake to a lingering embrace.
During our stay, we encountered a treasure trove of sights and experiences previously unknown to us, despite nearly a decade of exploring South Tyrol. Each day at Hotel Ritsch, the Dolomites threw open their arms to us, offering a dizzying display of beauty that felt at times like we were seeing the world with new eyes.
For example, as the day-trippers recede with the setting sun, a serene calm descends over Alpe di Siusi. The night on the plateau unveils a different world — one where the stars seem to burn brighter — like celestial bonfires lit by the mountain peaks themselves. And the silence you hear in the dark is so vast you swear it’s echoing from Schlern to Sassolungo.
Waking up on the alp is an experience in itself. The early morning light paints the sky in sweet purple hues that would have made Prince blush with envy, while a delicate mist hangs over the land, shrouding the meadows and mountains in a mystical veil. It’s a dreamy spectacle that none of our photographs could ever do justice.
The trails, too, take on a different character in the early hours. The air is more than just fresh; it’s a tonic, laced with the scent of dew-kissed grass and alpine flowers. Eventually, you also begin to hear the cheery chimes of cowbells from afar, each ding gently nudging the silence of the night aside. The metallic clamor may be annoying to some, but it always brings a smile to our faces.
Affordable Luxury in the Dolomites
Hotel Ritsch is a rare find in many surprising ways, but perhaps most surprising is its affordability. The rates are refreshingly reasonable, especially when you weigh them against the sheer quality of the experience and the hotel’s jaw-dropping location. Here, your wallet doesn’t have to take a beating for a taste of alpine awe.
In a world where “luxury” often translates to “exorbitant”, we found that Hotel Ritsch truly stands out. Luxury here isn’t defined by extravagances like gold-plated faucets but by nature-inspired simplicity, authenticity, heartfelt kindness, and the opportunity to connect to a land and its culture. It’s clear the Malfertheiner family deeply cares about offering an experience where what you take away in your heart matters more than what you spend.
When staying at Hotel Ritsch we recommend booking the half-board option, which includes the breakfast buffet each morning and the dinner in the evening. Not only is the dinner remarkable as we highlighted above, but after a day of adventuring across the alp, it’s unlikely you will wish to drive down the plateau to dine in Castelrotto, Ortisei, or another nearby village.
If an overnight stay at Hotel Ritsch is not possible for whatever reason, fear not. You can still enjoy the Malfertheiner family’s culinary traditions by planting yourself at the hotel’s outdoor terrace or tucking into its storied Stube. Dinner is also possible in Hotel Ritsch’s panoramic restaurant with a reservation.
In the end, whether you lay your head at Hotel Ritsch or simply stop by for a glass of wine and an appetite-pleasing platter, you will feel embraced by this special getaway. And as you leave, with the taste of the land still dancing in your mouth and the echoes of cowbells in your ears, you take away more than just a sense of the region’s ancient soul; you also receive an unspoken lesson in the art of truly living.
We’d like to thank the Malfertheiner family for a wonderful visit to Hotel Ritsch and all the laughs we shared together during our stay! Their hospitality not only warmed our hearts but also enriched our appreciation of the land they call home.