Standing at the top of the Plose’s second peak, I feel the wind rush past me.
I see the mountains, snow, valleys and villages below. In this moment, it is all worth it.
Exhaling deeply as I catch my breath from the hike up – which is 2,446m above sea level – I feel rooted in the present moment, in total awe of the Dolomites.
My trip here came at a time when I’d been feeling exhausted – caught between the urge to fill up my social calendar, as Londoners do, and a need to rest to stop impending burnout.
Staying for a long solo weekend in My Arbor, a wellness hotel in the region of South Tyrol, I was forced to choose a restorative way of life.
As we began to gather our things for the descent down the Plose, I couldn’t wait to get back to the comfort of my hotel room with its mountain views and quiet surroundings.
I’ll admit, I’m not normally a hotel person. I like to book a cheap rental close to wherever I need to be and spend as little time inside as possible. As soon as I stepped inside My Arbor (Latin for ‘tree’), that shifted.
Designed to feel like a treehouse, it’s high up in a forest at the height of the surrounding pines, and the interiors have wood finishing to further create that illusion. It’s a truly unique experience in that way.
You feel like the king of your own castle, especially as rooms look out onto the mountain tops and clouds.
This is the perfect setting in which to explore the Dolomites – where the weather can shift rapidly – whether it be through hiking in summer or skiing in winter.
As the region is so vast, picking your place to stay is key. At my hotel of choice, I was able to get free cable car access included in the price of the stay, as well as free guided hiking tours and e-bike tours.
The cable car is worth experiencing in its own right, as it offers even more beautiful views and a relaxing journey 1,000m up above sea level. When you get to the top, it’s the only time you’ll see lots of tourists in one space.
Beyond this landing point, the trails are vacant and relaxed, so you can take it at your own pace without feeling rushed by others doing the same walks.
Ivan Stuffer, a guide and expert skier, gives tours a few times a week from the hotel as a starting point, all with varying levels of difficulty and the majority occupying most of the day. The Plose is the obvious place to go first, given the area, but there are other local hike destinations available to try too – once a week, there’s even a sunrise hike beginning at 3am.
Fluent in multiple languages, Ivan was patient with me and helped as I struggled through unexpected patches of snow in running trainers. Hiking sticks are recommended, and I was kindly given one by a fellow traveller named Ingrid.
Given the communal wave of calm the area seems to instantly flood over you, everyone I met was kind.
After a day out in nature, My Arbor is like a warm cuddle upon your return.
The Dolomites can feel isolated at times – but as I was near the small city of Brixen, exploring was made easy with the ‘do as much or as little as you like’ attitude of the hotel.
After spending my Saturday out on the sunny slopes, I choose to take Sunday as a day of refuge.
I had a full body massage to soothe my tired legs. It was so relaxing, in fact, that I almost fell asleep on the table.
The varying temperatures of the steam room and different saunas cater for those who like it soft, and those on the other end of the scale who are hardcore with heat (I am, most definitely, soft).
There’s also hot, cold and medium temperature pools, and dunking between them is said to be good for your blood pressure. The warm pool even allows full nudity, which many couples embraced.
Around the various rooms, there’s affirmations to read, such as ‘I am energised’, to help reinforce the gentle and uplifting atmosphere.
And each day at breakfast and dinner, there’s a new one printed on the menu.
Meals are made up of small plates, where you’re welcome to try as many as you like, and you can sample local wines and dishes authentic to the region, such as Tyrolean dumplings, as well as Italian classics like panzerotti.
If you can get the octopus risotto, you’re in for a real treat.
Other dishes worth highlighting are kaiserschmarrn and schlutzkrapfen, which I tried on the Plose at mountain-top restaurant, Ristorante La Finestra.
They’re traditional to South Tyrol and the former is a style of pancake that is ripped apart and topped with sugar and berries – apparently people like it as a lunch dish – and the latter is a Dolomite take on spinach and ricotta pasta.
If you’ve only ever done the main Italian cities, you’ll notice the difference in the cuisine here.
And depending on where you’re travelling from, you can add in a couple of city stops. On my way there, I spent a couple of hours walking around the centre of Verona, enjoying Italy’s typically warm and terracotta buildings.
On the way back, I wondered around Brixen with Alexandra Huber, the hotel owner, who gave me a tour and some context to the location.
The city reveals the extent of German influence on the area, as street names are written twice over in Italian and German.
This is because, historically, the area as part of the Austrian Empire, but following war the boarders were redrawn and ‘Italification’ took place. Both cultures still have their place in the Dolomites.
Walking around Brixen, some streets appear typically Italian, while others feel more aligned with German styles of architecture.
There’s also a deep religious history in the area, and so the churches are worth popping into as well.
Between the two city locations, I sat back on a stunning train journey that follows the mountains – so you’re immersed in the dreamy location right until the very last moment.
Whether you go on a solo trip to soothe your soul like I did, or as a romantic getaway with a partner, or even with friends, the Dolomites won’t disappoint, and My Arbor will quickly feel like home.
Tanyel stayed at My Arbor hotel, where rooms start at £384 per night (sleeping up to three people at this price point) including half-board and full access to the spa and hiking and wellness activities.
Flights from London to Verona start at £83 with Ryanair. After a two hour flight, Tanyel then took a two hour train to Brixen (around £18), then a 20 minute cab ride to the hotel.
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