The grand hotel was built between 1906 and 1909 and once hosted kings, kaisers, heads of state and celebrities who came to this Alpine town for its gorgeous vistas and curing waters.
When I was in Bad Gastein two summers ago, I read an excellent article in an Austrian magazine about the difficulties in building this hotel for the Armenian owner, who had grand plans for a glamorous watering hole in the Alps. Its construction turned out to be an expensive proposition and a logistical nightmare. All the construction material had to be bought by train over these Alpine passes.
Today, the grand hotel fits in beautifully with the other art deco buildings in town.
Although the Grand Hotel de l’Europe enjoyed a few years of glamour at the turn of the 20th century, attracting European royalty, including Kaiser Franz Joseph and Kaiserin Sissi, its success was short-lived as the advent of Word War I radically changed Europe – both in terms of geography – completely redrawing the map of Europe at the Versailles Conference – and radical changes to customs and traditions.
The Grand Hotel de l’Europe went through a period of decline. Today it serves as Bad Gastein’s casino and has been converted into a budget hotel.
We did not stay here during our visit, but we were close by and stopped in to see its grand halls.
Definitely worth a stay or a visit when you are passing by this Alpine watering hole. Close your eyes, and you can almost see the glittering balls that may have been held here to the strains of Strauss at the start of the last century.