Carole Morin finds that the self-styled ‘Hotel Astrology’ is a walk on the weird side
No sooner had I arrived at Hotel Astrology than a one armed man crossed my path and the log lady gave me a nod. No sign, yet, of Agent Cooper but I could smell the damn fine coffee and the sinister Alpine town Weissensee should be renamed Twin Peaks on See.
Circled by mountains in turn threatening and protective, bio-vital hotel Weissenseerhof is owned by wealthy Austrian astrologer Christian Halper. Like Haile Selassie, Herr Halper consults his chart every day. Sometimes he doesn’t like what he sees.
Pluto was playing up during my visit, so he had to go into hiding. ‘He is in the hotel,’ the lovely manager Sabine confirmed, ‘but will be unable to leave his room.’
I caught sight of him in his tight white Stringfellow jeans, casting an anxious glance in my direction as I emerged from the floating spa.
‘Mr Halper checked my chart before hiring me,’ Sagittarian Sabine said, ‘and everyone who works here has been handpicked for their aura.’ At least one of them wouldn’t have had a hard time being cast by David Lynch as a sinister suspect.
‘We are one family…but I am only allowed to work them for twelve hours,’ Sabine smiled sweetly, offering me more kuchen with my organic champagne. Herr Halper wouldn’t be able to check my chart with any confidence so I’m unlikely to be offered a twelve hour shift.
My Pisces dad got drunk on his way to register my birth. He forgot the time. And the date. And the name.
All he could remember after a night on the single malt with vodka chasers was that I had been born in Grandfather Money’s bed; though Grandfather wasn’t in it at the time.
Dr Dex was assisted by 7 white nuns who held my mum down as she screamed, ‘Devil’s spawn!’ and demanded that they swap the baby for one with blonde hair and perfect toenails. A quick look in the Christening cup may have foretold that I would grow up to have a tubercular toe.
My mother, Maddie, was the seventh daughter of a seventh but the psychic gift bypassed her and came directly from Granny Black to me. I read my aunties’ gin cups and had a Saturday job with a famous psychic whose clients included Diana Dors and the chic wives of sheiks who sent their private jet when they wanted a tarot reading; and a basket of figs when they didn’t.
The figs attracted wasps and Maddie warned me never to be stung or I’d die. Her attempt at predicting the future failed; I was stung but it was the wasp that died.
Inside Hotel Astrology is reminiscent of Balmoral Castle; with its threadbare carpets and toilets that you worry may not flush. I even caught a whiff of the Queen’s perfume in the lift.
Rows of tartan garments and bottles of Scotch are on sale by the front desk and all the female staff are called Sabine. Maybe they share a name badge?
‘Mountain people are strange,’ one of them confessed, looking towards the bar where a woman was sipping saffron gin and grinning at herself in the mirror.
The hotel has two restaurants, one for people who want to eat and another for people who don’t.
I had one dinner, a boiled egg, in the calorie controlled restaurant, but elected to eat with the big people the rest of the time. It’s your choice. To diet or not to diet.
The Mayr cure at Hotel Astrology is less severe than the one Nigella Lawson was experiencing a few mountains over. Bless, Nigella confessed on the flight back from Salzburg that she had managed to gain weight during her week at starvation mountain; though she was looking TFN (Thin for Nigella: size 16 M&S maybe).
While Nigella and Kate Moss were chewing stale bread, guests at Hotel Astrology were tucking into organic gourmet food from celebrated chef Florian Klinger.
I can’t imagine Florian burning his sous chef’s hand or biting the pastry chef’s ear off or any of the tantrums chefs are famous for. He’s the antithesis of the angry cook and maybe responsible for that myth that chubsters are cheerful. His food’s not bad either.
The psychic energy changes during times of panic – fear of poverty, terrorism or the new Foreign Secretary makes magic more important.
Psychic sisters is the most popular concession in Selfridges and a lot of celebrities have a witch or astrologer on the payroll for those days when they can’t zip up their size 2 skinnies.
A fresh air fortnight and an escape from your friends and your phone are attractions at this hotel. You’re unlikely to bump into anyone you know here unless you take them with you and the mountain will block the signal on your devices.
During my stay, guests included a glamorous young couple and two serious ladies celebrating a Gemini birthday. I was seated next to a Leo and a Libra who entertained me at dinner.
‘This place needs a donkey,’ Leo said, indicating an area of the bougainvillea stuffed garden where this donkey could live.
‘Why not chickens?’ Libra suggested, mischievously.
‘Chicken blood is useful in voodoo rituals,’ I joined in. ‘But it would prevent alektorophobics eating in the restaurant.’
‘No. A donkey,’ Leo insisted. At least she has drunk a lot of the excellent local wine and will not remember impersonating a donkey in the morning.
I remember everything. There’s far too much going on in my Taurus head, according to Tomas, the spa’s secret weapon.
Tomas is a gifted healer with psychic hands; able to seek out your soul’s secrets and find a physical remedy. His sidekick, another Sabine, is also very good but it was Tomas who ejected the mad genie from my head during a Reiki treatment and drowned it in the green lake.
First I stepped into a Pisces bath. Water is God’s tranquiliser and the bath comes with champagne and chocolates and some truly terrible music which I was too lazy to get up and switch off.
The astrology treatments, Fire, Water, Air and Earth are a bit contrived, but that didn’t stop me trying all of them. Forget the gimmicky warm candle wax (Fire) and and the Hawaiian dance (Air), it’s the massage that’s exceptional here.
Tranquilised by the treatment, which included full body, head and foot massage with the mad genie ejection thrown in, I went for a walk and tried to break into someone else’s room.
First I went into the wrong hotel – an almost identical building next door – then I tried to get into the wrong room.
The silence of the emerald See, the mist, all the women having the same name and the rustic chic of the buildings had made me wonder if I was going to wake up from a strange dream any minute and know who didn’t kill Laura Palmer.
Back in my own room, I found a bougainnvillea petal on the bed. Bouigainvillea is a common ingredient in voodoo rituals in Havana. But we’re not in Havana today and there’s no accompanying whiff of chicken blood.
‘A gift from a mountain person?’ one of the Sabine’s suggested. I waited for her to say that mountain people are strange, or offer me another large slab of kuchen. But she asked, ‘And how is Prince Harry? Still single?’
There are plenty of activities at Hotel Astrology for people who get bored with boozy baths.
Climbing the local mountains – or being pulled up on a contraption that wouldn’t look out of place on a helter skelter; rafting on the lake, or riding a motorbike without a licence.
I’m a danger to myself and others on wheels, having failed cycling proficiency for running over the examiner twice, and turning my headmaster’s wife into a paraplegic while trying to reverse park in the school playground.
And I wasn’t able to walk the length of myself, having been stretched by the Kundalini yoga instructor who may have worked the rack in a Tudor torture chamber in another life; or even in this one by the looks of her skin. So I left the sporty show offs, Leo and Libra, to climb the mountain and enjoyed some of Florian Klinger’s asparagus risotto instead.
No sooner had Herr Klinger gifted me some of his pulling oil, which he harvests himself on the full moon, and I was being whistled at in downtown Twin Peaks.