Inaugurated in 1896 by Karl Pitscheider as an annex building of the main inn called “Posta al Cervo”, it was expanded ten years later with the construction of a second wing and of its distinctive feature: the tower. The growing popularity of winter sports in Val Gardena contributed to rank Hotel Oswald in the list of the most luxurious hotels worldwide.
It was proudly named “The Hotel”. Before the outburst of World War I and during the fascist period it was busy with aristocratic and upper class guests such as the members of the Royal House of Savoy, the famous scientist Enrico Fermi and many other high-ranking personalities. Summer used to be the peak season when the hotel mainly accommodated members of the upper class who would spend 3, 4 or even more weeks there.
The Hotel is situated on the main central street of the village of Selva, which was very important in those days. Besides that, the hotel served another important purpose providing protection from the sun. In the past the aristocratic society gave maximum effort to avoid sunbathing in order to differentiate itself from the lower classes whose members such as farmers and workers had a dark skin colour instead. During the sunny summer days the hotel garden provided shadow and skin care with its sun umbrellas wide open. In 1929 the hotel opened for the winter season and 4 years later it was equipped with the first heating system. Hotel Oswald was renowned all over Europe for being the best hotel in the Alps.
During the Second World War it was used as a military hospital and when Bolzano was bombed, from 1944 to 1945, it was used as a school for the students of Merano and Bolzano. When the war was over, it was occupied by a part of the German armed forces. In the post-war period the hotel was run by Ossi Pitscheider who gave it back its former splendour and fame and put some clever marketing strategies in place attracting hundreds of students from the prestigious universities of Oxford and Cambridge to Selva.
Hotel Oswald was shut down in 1966 due to financial troubles. Several entrepreneurs used their capital to pay the debts of the hotel and they succeeded as the hotel reopened in 1970 but it closed shortly afterwards. It was not before 1978 that some local hotel managers set up a stock company with the objective of taking over and renovating the hotel. The year 1981 marked the beginning of a new successful era that is still lasting today. From those days till 2007 hotel Oswald underwent three major renovation works.