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Pillow Talk in Salzburg with Margot Weindorfer, Hotel Director and Salzburg Festival Expert

When COVID-19 made it impossible to celebrate the centennial of the Salzburg Festival last year, the city simply extended the anniversary into 2021. This year’s visitors will therefore benefit from a particularly lavish concert program. We talked to Hotel Director and Festival expert Margot Kirchdorfer about the reasons that make a visit to the World Heritage city so rewarding this summer.

Pillow & Pepper: The hospitality and travel industries have been particularly hard hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. Could you tell us what you personally found to be the biggest challenge?

Margot Weindorfer: What bothered me was my inability to do anything about the situation, and to accept that fact that I had no freedom of action. However, responding to a given situation is part of my daily chores. So, we adapted the operation of our two hotels, the Hotel Stein and the Hotel Goldgasse, to the challenge.

You actively used the lockdown as an opportunity. What kind of improvements did you undertake at your two hotels?

Margot Weindorfer: On the one hand, we invested in structural alterations, such as the air conditioning at the Hotel Goldgasse. This proved quite a challenge in a house that is 500 years old and subject to heritage protection. But these facts make the change all the more useful to our guests, and it was simply a unique chance to adapt the historic building to present-day ideas of comfort. On the other hand, we had the time to tend to details like pictures, texts, fit-out and uniforms. We took a hard look at everything and repositioned ourselves as needed.

What sets the Hotel Stein apart from other design hotels in Austria?

Margot Weindorfer: The location directly across from the historic town centre of Salzburg, our priceless roof terrace, and the unique glass artwork by Barovier & Toso, I would say. Of course, there are plenty of other things I could think of. But it is ultimately the crew, the people who work here, that makes the Hotel Stein so special.

In your opinion, what do guests appreciate most about your hotels?

Margot Weindorfer: I’d say the authenticity of either hotel. You get to experience Salzburg first-hand. You feel the essence of Salzburg, and you will take home unforgettable memories.

Personally, what do you need in order to feel at home in a hotel?

Margot Weindorfer: Authenticity and warmth. Today’s idea of luxury is very different from what it was even ten years ago. Natural materials, sustainable amenities, and a regional cuisine – these are the sort of things I most care about.

For the first time ever, the Salzburg Easter Festival was postponed to autumn. Is Salzburg expecting a different set of guests?

Margot Weindorfer: That will depend on the travel options available by that time. I think the months ahead will be dominated by a regional development. And it will bring a corresponding clientèle to the city. It remains to be seen to what extent it will be possible again to use the Festival to invite clients and deepen business ties with them.

What should nobody miss out on when in Salzburg this year?

Margot Weindorfer: The tranquillity you get in Salzburg now, with the international tourist not yet returned, is a rare thing to experience. It has brought back some of the charm of the bygone times: You will find a spot on the coffeehouse patio, your eyes can roam freely in the streets and take note of things that are easily lost in the bustle of regular summers. People will take the time to chat with you in the shops, and the pace in general is slower, more focused. It feels good.

Where in Salzburg would we find you for after-work drinks?

Margot Weindorfer: Coming to the roof terrace at the Hotel Stein for an apero and nibbles would be your safest bet.

Would you tell us your favourite restaurants in Salzburg?

Margot Weindorfer: I must say I appreciate fine regional cuisine, like the one you will find at our own Gasthof Goldgasse, and a great wait service. Another place I love is Senn’s Restaurant at the Gusswerk. Andreas Senn cultivates a decidedly light and innovative cuisine. He largely forgoes the use of butter, even in sauces and gravies. So, it is no surprise to see two well-deserved Michelin stars sparkle above Gusswerk.

Do you have a favourite spot in Salzburg?

Margot Weindorfer: I do, it’s Kapuzinerberg, the mountain right behind the Hotel Stein. It has wonderful hiking trails and amazing views across town, and it is only five minutes from my office.

What should everyone take back home when returning from Salzburg?

Margot Weindorfer: If you happen to be in Salzburg on a Thursday, I recommend checking out the street market locally called “Schranne”. The rich variety and the colours are simply amazing and intoxicating, and you will take fond memories of it back home with you. Or try the Salzburg caviar at Grüll in Grödig. There is even a white variety. Have a nice glass of wine with it – and you will always fondly think back of Salzburg.

Log into pillowandpepper.com to find out what the best rooms are at the Hotel Goldgasse and the Hotel Stein in Salzburg. This summer will be a particularly rewarding time to visit the World Heritage Site of Salzburg because the city will continue to celebrate the centennial of the Salzburg Festival, and because the usual holiday crowd has not yet returned to the baroque inner city. Off you go!

Have fun planning your next trip – after all, summer is the time to travel!