4 Hearts in Bridge

At the 4-star ARCOTEL Castellani in Salzburg, the cards are shuffled three times a week. The hotel, a green oasis in the city, is the ideal location for concentrated playing and social gatherings. Here the Hohensalzburg Bridge Club holds its regular get-togethers for a game of bridge as a way to spend one’s valuable free time in good company without having to “communicate” alone at home over a screen.

The completion of the first railway from Vienna to Trieste in the mid-19th century lent a whole new quality to travelling. High society – above all members of the aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie – flocked south for a summer by the sea. Their destination: the chic seaside resorts along the Adriatic coast. Naturally, the ladies and gentleman from the colder, wetter climes of Central Europe stayed exclusively at Grand Hotels – which were like a temporary second home for them.

The afternoon and some evenings were dedicated to playing cards. The cultivated game of choice was bridge, and people would meet in the elegant hotel rooms to pass the time laughing and playing, flirting and talking politics. And the champagne flowed. The noble and discreet atmosphere of the luxury hotels offered the assurance of being in exclusive company. Bridge became an elite “sport” and achieved cult status. Especially members of the fairer sex used bridge games as a way to establish contacts – today we would call it “networking” – and to secure their social status. If you didn’t play bridge, you were “out”.

This more or less elitist attitude remains to this day. People meet to play cards, gossip, talk politics and put the world to rights. Many bridge clubs still choose a tasteful hotel atmosphere for their meetings and tournaments. Social commitments are back in vogue, and a classic game of cards like bridge is the perfect occasion for all ages.