7 Fabulous Non-Skiing Snowy Breaks
7 Fabulous Non-Skiing Snowy Breaks

7 Fabulous Non-Skiing Snowy Breaks

Ski holidays don’t appeal to everyone but, if you love the snow and want to embrace the cold in style, there are plenty of alternatives. From staying in an ice hotel in Sweden’s Lapland and snowshoeing in Romania to epic Swiss train journeys, here are some memorable winter holidays to book now.

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A Chic French Resort

Megève is one of France’s chicest resorts, founded just over a century ago by Baroness Noémie de Rothschild who wanted France to have its own version of St Moritz. She put the sleepy village on the map and turned it into a playground for Parisian high society and the French aristocracy. Today, it still offers much more than just skiing. Stay at the ultra-luxe Four Seasons Hotel where the concierge can organise an array of activities, including dog sledding, paragliding, hot-air ballooning, electric snowmobiling (the e-bikes have fat tires especially suited to riding on snow). New this year is a snowshoeing adventure that takes you to an igloo which is nestled amidst a fir forest. By candlelight and wrapped in cosy blankets, you’ll be treated to charcuterie, local cheeses and mulled wine before making the return journey as the sun sets. 

Visit FourSeasons.com/Megeve

For Railway Enthusiasts

Embark on an epic eight-day winter adventure in Switzerland during which you’ll experience the country’s iconic Glacier Express, one of the most magical and scenic winter train rides, and the Unesco-listed Bernina Express. On this Great Rail Journeys trip, you set off from London on the Eurostar to Paris and then board the high-speed service to Strasbourg. Your onward journey the next day into Switzerland goes to Chur in the Graubünden region, a lovely town with medieval cobbled alleyways and a stunning 12th-century cathedral. The next phase of the trip takes you to Kandersteg, your base for three nights, from where you can explore scenic trails and various neighbouring regions, including the Rhône Valley and Montreux on Lake Geneva. The final day trip takes in the charming car-free resort of Zermatt which nestles beneath the instantly recognisable Matterhorn. Here, a ride on the Gornergrat Railway is a must – the scenic cog railway snakes from Zermatt to the summit of nearby Gornergrat, reaching an elevation of over 2,700 metres, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Matterhorn and its glaciers, as well as the Monte Rosa range.

Visit GreatRail.com

Four Seasons Hotel Megève
Four Seasons Hotel Megève

Lapland In Total Luxury

If you’re looking for a bucket list itinerary that embraces adventure and remote escapism in total luxury, head to the wilds of Swedish Lapland on this Scott Dunn journey. With the chance to see the Northern Lights, you’ll stay in some extraordinary hotels. Beginning at the Ice Hotel, expect ice sculptures adorning your suites that are handpicked and remodelled each year from ice blocks from the river Torne. A highlight during your stay is a dinner under the night sky at the hotel’s secluded wilderness camp. Next stop is the unique Treehotel, perched high in the canopy of the forest of Harads. Staying in one of the seven individually designed treehouses, you can experience tree saunas, husky sledging, snowmobile adventures and remarkable sunrises and sunsets. Finally, you head to the cutting-edge Arctic Bath Hotel, a floating oasis surrounded by water that freezes in the winter. Here, the must for the brave is the open-air cold bath, a refreshing antidote after you’ve sweated in the different saunas.

Visit ScottDunn.com

Arvidsjaur, Sweden
Arvidsjaur, Sweden


Nordic Charm On The Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye usually has snow between December and February. For a remote break, Milovaig House (sleeps four) is a charming, restored 19th-century crofter’s house, situated on the cliffs. With minimalist Nordic interiors that complement the building’s heritage, this serene retreat offers stunning views of Loch Pooltiel from every room and, on one side, you’ll have views of the island’s tallest sea cliffs with the outer Hebrides on the horizon. The downstairs sunroom has floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a log burner and is the ideal spot to watch the incredible winter landscape and, with luck, a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Outdoors, a garden surrounds the house and opens up to the wild landscape from where you might spot dolphins, seals and sea eagles. In the evenings, you can relax in the wood-burning hot tub and toast marshmallows on the fire pit on the decking before you cosy up with a book or a movie in the snug area and feast on the catch of the day from local fishermen.

Visit SandandStoneEscapes

Unwind In Slovenia

For a recuperative rest and digital detox, Inntravel’s seven-night break in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps is ideal, especially as this area is little visited in the winter. You’ll be based in stylish heritage hotel Sunrose 7 in the pretty, unspoiled village of Bohinjska Bistrica which is near two of the country’s most alluring natural attractions – the lakes of Bled and Bohinj. From here you can explore the region on foot or in snowshoes. Included are a number of excursions with a local mountain guide that showcase the best of the Bohinj Valley: visit the little town of Radovljica, the centre of the beekeeping industry; take a torchlit stroll along the shore of Lake Bohinj; and discover the art of cheesemaking at a local producer. After days out, the hotel has a small spa where you can unwind before enjoying award-winning cuisine under new chef Jože Godec, one of the best in the region.

Visit Inntravel.co.uk

Milovaig House
Milovaig House


Snowshoeing In Romania

Transylvania conjures up images of craggy mountains, gothic castles, horse-drawn carts and forests filled with wolves and bears, and in winter as the snow settles, this corner of Romania is even more magical. On Exodus’ seven-day trip, you’ll hike or snowshoe to small villages, into gorges, through valleys and up mountains, as well as visit Bran Castle, the fictional home of Dracula. You’ll be based in a simple but comfortable guesthouse in the village of Magura, from which you’ll head out daily to meet local people who still live a traditional lifestyle, learn about the regional folklore and history, enjoy the mountain scenery and, with a bit of luck, see traces of the local wildlife including wolf or bear prints in the snow. The walks vary from two to seven hours, with most around four to five hours long.

Visit Exodus.co.uk

Foodie Heaven

The hidden gem of Rougemont – one of the prettiest and most authentic villages in Switzerland – is located in the heart of the Pays-d’Enhaut in the Vaud Alps ski area, and just a few minutes from exclusive and celebrity-packed Gstaad, should you want to experience some glitz. Aside from offering great cross-country skiing and lots of winter hiking trail, Rougemont is fast becoming a gastronomic haven, showcasing regional as well as world-class food. Stay at the 12-room Hôtel Valrose which opened in 1904 and has all the typical charm of an authentic Swiss chalet. Its restaurant, La Table du Valrose, has just been awarded two Michelin stars. Overseen, by chef Benoît Carcenat, it is known for its authentic, modern cuisine – think local venison medallion, blue lobster from Brittany and white truffle from Piemonte. It has an impressive list of 700 different wines, and wine pairing is available, too. For something simpler, Le Café Valrose has a more relaxed menu offering seasonal dishes including fondue and burgers. 

Elsewhere in the village, legendary Chef Edgar Bovier has brought his passion and world class culinary talents to the region since retiring from the Michelin-starred Lausanne Palace in 2020. He oversees both Le Roc in the Hotel de Rougemont and Le Cerf. Le Roc serves classic French cuisine with a contemporary touch – signature dishes include fennel and wolffish bouillabaisse; scallop carpaccio with pistachio; grilled langoustine and chard soufflé. The menu also offers a few of Edgard Bovier's signature dishes – think herb-coated free-range chicken; suckling pig with new oil mousseline sauce; and rib-steak with "Paris-Rougemont" butter. Le Cerf was renovated and reopened in 2019.  With stunning views of the Videmanette mountains, the menu offers locally inspired and traditional dishes such as Edgard fondues (his very own secret recipe), Swiss chard tart, raclettes, golden rösti and Swiss salads. We recommend opting for local Vaudois wines.

Le Cerf
Le Cerf

©Hanna Büker


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