Transfer time: Geneva Airport 88km/60mins
Lift pass: €106 approx. for 3 days
Chamonix hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and is considered by many to be the birthplace of skiing. Located at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix (1,040m) is known for its challenging runs, making it the ideal place for alpine thrill-seekers. With plenty of après-ski activities on offer, and a town full of buzzing nightlife, it’s definitely one to put on your list.
STAY: Hameau Albert
With a distinct focus on health and wellbeing, this exclusive chalet-hotel hybrid has limited occupancy – allowing for a truly private mountain escape. The on-site spa means there’s plenty of time for relaxation away from the slopes, too.
One of Chamonix’s most popular restaurants, Munchie’s Asian take on traditional French and Swiss cooking offers something a little different after a long day skiing. Bang in the centre, on the Route du Moulin, it’s strongly recommended that diners make a reservation ahead of time to guarantee a spot.
Transfer time: Geneva Airport 87km/60mins
Lift pass: €138 approx. for 3 days
Although the village may be somewhat low altitude, Megève (1,050m) offers skiing up to 2,353m. Snow conditions are more variable as a result, but the terrain is suitable for all levels. Despite being a traditional Haute-Savoie village, the resort offers more than 90 restaurants (eight with Michelin stars), while the Place d’Eglise offers a range of upmarket shops and bars.
For a real treat, book into one of the Alpaga’s chalets, which are clustered around the hotel’s main restaurant, pop-up bar and hot tub - all of which have enviable views of Mont Blanc. Simply hunker down in the hotel's cosy, stylish and warm atmosphere, or spend an afternoon in the enviable five-star spa.
EAT: Beef Lodge
Tucked inside Le Lodge Park Hotel, Beef Lodge is described as a 'trapper's hideout', with the decor offering the perfect blend between traditional log cabin and modern, elegant dining. The menu is renowned for its excellent steak, while the adjoining 'New England' style bar is the ideal place to start the night off in style.
Transfer time: Geneva Airport 135km/120mins
Lift pass: €159 approx. for 3 days
For those willing to put in a bit more journey time, Méribel (1,450m) opens the door to France’s classic Three Valleys ski system, comprising of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Les Menuires-Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Orelle. Home to the 1992 Winter Olympics, Méribel also played host to the widely-acclaimed Altitude Festival in 2011, bringing the top names in music and comedy to several of the resort’s many bars and clubs.
STAY: Le Coucou
Ski in/ski out experiences are rare in Méribel, but Le Coucou offers just that. Sitting across ten floors, tucked into the mountainside, this recently opened five-star hotel is the vision of celebrated architect Pierre Yovanovitch. Interiors combine minimalist luxury with elements of a classic mountainside chalet – expect views over the slopes, the valley and alpine gardens from every room, and bright, spacious bathrooms.
EAT: Clos Bernard
In the Altiport forest in Méribel, and accessible only by ski, foot or horse-drawn carriage, chefs at the cosy Clos Bernard work with fresh produce to serve dishes combining traditional flavours and local recipes. Focusing on regional dishes, diners can choose from any of the ‘open-fire’ grill dishes, which are accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and fresh vegetables. The perfect alpine fare.
Transfer time: Grenoble airport 131km/116mins
Lift pass: €165 approx. for 3 days
Also part of the Three Valleys, Courchevel (1,747m) is one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, meaning there’s plenty on offer for skiers of all abilities and ages. It was also the first resort to be built from scratch, rather than around an existing village, with most of the town planning done during WWII. Now, with more than 11 five-star hotels and plenty of fine-dining options, Courchevel has cemented its status as one of the most luxe ski resorts in Europe.
In prime position at the foot of the slopes of Courchevel Moriond, the Portetta Hotel is an ideal base for a weekend on the slopes. From the same team behind The Pig, this ski in/skiout hotel offers 38 luxuriously cosy rooms all overlooking either the piste or the mountain, as well as six stylish duplex lofts on the top two floors which have balconies, open log fires and views over Courchevel Moriond and beyond.
EAT: Les Cave des Creux
Described by regulars as having a relaxed atmosphere and striking views, this mountainside restaurant is perched at 2,112m and run by two local brothers. Chef Daniel Thibault selects local producers and quality products for his Savoyard specialties, although he’s known for experimenting with Asian flavours in many of his dishes, too. The wine list is also pretty comprehensive, while the desserts are must orders.
ST ANTON, AUSTRIA
Transfer time: Innsbruck Airport 100km/60mins
Lift pass: €106 approx. for 3 days
The town of St Anton am Arlberg (1,300m) is Tirolean tradition at its best. Although best-known for its challenging runs – Glazig, Gampen, Schindler Kar and Kapall to name a few – over 260km of runs and 83 ski lifts mean there’s something for everyone. For fans of the après-ski life, head to one of the resort’s many mountainside bars to get an early start on proceedings.
STAY: St Antoner Hof
Nestled among the mountains of Arlberg, this top hotel is anything but stiff and formal thanks to its vibrantly-coloured interiors and outlandish decorations. Boasting exceptionally personal service and it's own in-house restaurant, it's the ideal spot from which to start your alpine adventure.
EAT: The Hospiz Alm
Recently awarded 15 points by French restaurant guide Gault Milau Dine, diners can enjoy a memorable night out in the ambiance of a modern ski lodge on one of the Hospiz Alm's grand terraces. Chef David Kurz produces a small menu, full of comfort-food classics such as crispy roasted Tyrolean duck or ox cheek ragu with mashed potatoes. For the real Austrian experience, there’s nothing more appropriate than the Viennese schnitzel.
Transfer time: Innsbruck Airport 65km/60mins
Lift pass: €166 approx. for 3 days
Mayrhofen (630m) is most popular for its expansive terrain and lively atmosphere. The 157km of runs offer skiing for all levels, including excellent untracked off-piste slopes, and one of the best snow parks in the Alps: The Vans Penken Park. Investing in a Zillertal Superski Pass will also earn you access to a further 500km of terrain. Just be wary that in April, the resort becomes over-run with partygoers attending the resort’s annual snowboarding festival.
STAY: Hotel Elizabeth
A short walk from the town centre, the adults-only Hotel Elisabeth is the resort’s only five-star hotel. Designed in the style of an oversized chalet, the rooms provide luxury in the most rural of surroundings. With an on-site bar and spa, there’s little reason to leave the comfort of the hotel behind, although you’ll risk missing out on the vast array of bars and restaurants towards the middle of town by doing so.
Often described as the 'best place' in Mayrhofen, Goldkind is widely regarded as one of thetop mountainside restaurants in the resort. With a menu catering to meat-eaters and vegans alike, there’s something for everyone here. The service gets two thumbs up as well, as does the restaurant’s warm and cosy atmosphere – ideal for sheltering from a passing blizzard.
Transfer time: Geneva Airport 100km/90mins; Turin Caselle Airport 150km/100mins.
Lift pass: €139.00 for 3 days
Courmayeur (1,224m) is a charming, traffic-free town situated at the foot of Mont Blanc. Although it’s not high, the ski area benefits from good snow cover thanks to its range of north or north west-facing slopes, which are perhaps best-suited to more experienced skiers. The resort also offers access to the famous Vallée Blanche, although one of its main attractions is the SkyWay Monte Bianco cable car, which offers riders views of peaks like the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa.
STAY: Le Massif
Just minutes from some of the most important ski lifts, Le Massif only opened in December to enormous fanfare. Bringing together elegant Italian design and alpine surroundings, the warm woods and pastel tones will help you feel cosy from the moment you step inside. Meanwhile, adjoining terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of the rugged mountains rising up to Cervino and Gran Paradiso.
EAT: Les Dames Anglaises
Les Dames Anglaises prides itself on local gastronomy, while it’s mountainside location offers up some of the best lunch and dinner views in the area. Creative, but still based on simple ingredients, the menu is largely made up of traditional Italian dishes, with the accompanying wine menu offering up a selection of suitable pairings, mainly from the Tuscan region.
Transfer time: Turin Caselle Airport 121km/90 minutes
Lift pass: €123.50 for 3 days
Cervinia (2,050km) lies at the foot of Monte Cervino, aka the Matterhorn. Well located, it offers up fantastic skiing and dining at reasonable prices. It is also known as Italy’s most snow-sure resort, with a long season that runs from November to the beginning of May - making it one of the best options for latecomers or those booking last minute.
STAY: Principe Delle Nevi
Describing their design as ‘Italian modern, and contemporary mountain chic design, with a classic twist’, co-owners James McNeill and Kristin Gynnild have just unveiled an entirely new wing to this ski in/ski out hotel, offering a complete suite of spa facilities, as well as five master suites which have been converted into slick, modern lofts and chalets. The suites are equipped with state-of-the-art in-room entertainment, steam showers, saunas and jacuzzis.
For a real blow-the-budget treat, head to Michelin-starred Wood. A gourmet restaurant at the foot of the Matterhorn, the site is run and owned by couple Cristian Scalco and Amanda Eriksson. Combining Swedish flavours with traditional Italian ideas – with a hint of Asia thrown in as well – the dishes served at Wood revolve around naturally and locally sourced ingredients.
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