Height of cool: mountain retreats in the Austrian Tirol

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With its glorious views, rich cuisine and vertiginous trails, the Austrian Tirol is a winter wonderland – but it’s even better in summer

A wooden swimming jetty juts into a lake of deepest emerald green. In the distance white-sailed dinghies skitter across the water, propelled by a gentle breeze coming down from the mountains. This is Achensee, the largest lake in the Austrian Tirol. And if you endured last summer’s heatwave on a sticky and crowded British beach or watched the skies turn red above the Med as the mercury nudged the high 40s, the chances are you found yourself fantasising about a scene just like this.

I’d love to say we jumped off that jetty into the lake, but it’s not just the colour that’s glacial, so we retreat to the more temperate waters of the rooftop infinity pool at Atoll Achensee. This gleaming lakeside leisure complex has the look and feel of an exclusive spa retreat, all sweeping white curves and mountain vistas, but you can spend half a day here, flitting between the indoor and outdoor pools, whirl pools, sauna and sun terraces for just a few euros more than it would cost you to swim in a municipal pool back home. It’s not the only thing that turns out to be great value. Summer is low season in the Tirol and many of the hotels here – including the smart-but-cosy Sonnenhof in Pertisau where we’re staying – offer enticing half-board packages.

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