From high-profile winter hangouts to postcard perfect Alpine villages, thriving après-ski scenes to winter sports lovers, Europe’s hottest ski resorts have opened up for season time.
Whether you’re looking for scene, spa or just great ski, we’ve got our favourites lined up. Add a bit of wellness in the mix and these charming European ski resorts are good enough to turn beach lovers to mountain lovers.
From luxe après ski knits to high-performance all-in-ones, CF fashion editor Lisa Haynes show you what to pack to look chic on the slopes.
THE PACKING EDIT
El Lodge, Sierra Nevada, Spain
From piste to pool, whether you pack skis or not, El Lodge makes for an alluring mountain get-away. Sister to the Marbella Club, your whole stay is complemented by music from the summertime playgroud.
With a gabled roof and golden exterior crafted from Finnish wood, El Lodge is an enchanting Alpine-style boutique retreat in Sierra Nevada’s fairytale landscape. Cosily kitted out with vintage ski posters, antler chandeliers and animal prints by designer Andrew Martin, the contemporary interiors redefine log cabin luxury.
Outside, you can enjoy après-ski on the Sun Deck, with ski-in ski-out access. Or warm up in the hotel spa’s heated pools, sauna and steam baths – complete with an outdoor terrace featuring a stunning mountain backdrop. Evenings are made for cocktails beside the fire in the Lounge and fine-dining cuisine in The Grill Restaurant.
Looking for some culture on your trip? Swap the slopes for a spot of sightseeing and head to Granada, only 30 minutes away, where you can take in the city’s fascinating history and culture, from the majestic Alhambra to tiny flamenco bars.
Le Grand Bellevue, Gstaad, Switzerland
This winter, Gstaad’s most idyllic boutique hotel Le Grand Bellevue opens up its little black book of contacts with exclusive residencies with leading household names in gastronomy and wellness.
Our favorite? From 14 – 21 February, world-renowned German aesthetic doctor Barbara Sturm will host a week-long pop up at Le Grand Bellevue, offering guests one-to-one consultations and the opportunity to sample her high performance, science-focused skin care regimes including her new Ski Cream in the 3,000square metre Le Grand Spa. Care for a #SturmGlow?
Le Grand Bellevue will also launch a range of extravagant Alpine activities, including a high-octane day of heli-skiing on the Swiss peaks, before soaring back to the hotel for an under-the-stars dinner; and a range of decadent private dining experiences in the wooden Krug Chalet that sits amongst the hotel’s gardens with breath-taking views of the snow-capped mountains beyond. Outside of ski time, visit Gstaad’s famed boutiques and galleries, with private tours of the Hauser & Wirth art chalet, and after-hours access to a range of designer outlets including Chopard, Dolce & Gabanna, Adler and Graff.
Le CouCou, Meribel, France
Skiing is the raison d’être for most Le Coucou visitors. This is the reinvention of the classic ski chalet as a chic slope-side retreat. Geometric shapes echo the Alpine landscapes with pale wooden tones and wall-length windows letting the wraparound views shine. After all, there are snow-topped mountains and dramatic valleys in every direction. A wry nod to traditional Alpine chalets with contemporary cuckoo clocks on the walls.
Designed to be a part of the landscape, Le Coucou spans ten floors built into the mountainside. And this ski-in, ski-out lodge continually brings the outside in. Watch skiers on the Belvédère piste from your suite, hot chocolate in hand or breathe in the crisp air from your balcony that’s a feature of every Deluxe Room.
After all, you’ll have 330 pistes at your feet – including the Roc de Fer. And personalised equipment set up each day for you in the elegant Ski Room, with its own take-off terrace. But there’s also snowshoe trekking, paragliding, snowmobiling and pony sledging (down the twists and turns of the Mission Black Forest piste) to discover. Combine this with downtime in the up-in-the-mountains Tata Harper Le Coucou spa with treatments made for ski-weary legs.
Valsana, Arosa, Switzerland
Those who know Arosa, the plush but ski-rather-than-be-seen destination, will have travelled there and stayed at the super-smart Tschuggen Grand Hotel. Enter Valsana. This is a no table cloth and gluten-free kind of place. A sustainable hotel that combines retro chic design with a fresh approach to luxury. Valsana runs on recycled energy, limiting its ecological footprint to just 4% with virtually zero emissions. Almost all the heat needed for the property is generated, stored and recirculated using waste heat and ground probes with the aid of the site’s own ice battery. The eco philosophy runs throughout the hotel from the chunky wood furniture, floors and exterior, all made with trees from the surrounding area and the cladding of the previous property. Even the beds are eco-friendly – the mattresses are made from natural coconut fibres. The 40 rooms swap reindeer motifs for Aztec-pattern blankets, antlers for botanical prints and sheepskins for the industrial edge of aviator egg chairs; hammocks on the balconies are a nice touch too. The nearest cable car is just a couple of minutes away, and thanks to the linking of the Arosa Lenzerheide ski areas a few years back, it whips you up to more than 140 miles of slopes. There’s also snowshoeing and ice golf on the lake and, back at the hotel, yoga classes, weekly film nights and a small spa with treatment rooms named after Swiss ski champions.
Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz, Switzerland
This winter season, this legendary Alpine outpost continues its flourishing renaissance through the introduction of seasonal activities in St. Moritz. With immersive experiences, behind-the-scenes culinary masterclasses and newly introduced wellness experiences. Perhaps 3 nights of ‘Art on a High’ package granting special access to nearby exhibitions including Swiss gallerists, Hauser & Wirth, and nearby Muzeum Susch. Foodies can partake in the celebrity supper club, featuring Jason Atherton of King’s Social House, Andreas Caminada of IGNIV and Nobu of Matsuhisa as they host an exclusive evening kitchen party at the Palace on the 20 February 2020. On the 13 March, the Palace will also welcome Olivier Krug, sixth generation house director of the eponymous champagne house for an intimate, 30-guest culinary journey where guests can learn about Krug’s esteemed history and connection with the Palace. Or maybe its as simple as sleep, ski and spa repeat experience. Immune boosting breakfasts to one-on-one ski sessions, ice skating on the Palace’s own ice rink and afternoons indulging in one of the ‘sauna gondolas’.
Riders Hotel, Laax, Switzerland
Having been voted Switzerland’s best ski resort five years in a row, it already has a pretty impressive resume. Laax is the Shoreditch version of a ski resort. Riders Palace is well-designed and affordable accommodation for people who want to ski and party hard. The party crashpad if you will. You can play as well as stay. Downstairs is an oh-so-hip bar with free gigs on Friday nights and below that, a 700-capacity pumping nightclub. Rooms are either modern, simple doubles, twins or ‘friends’ rooms sleeping four, and there’s a also gym, a waxing room, yoga sessions and a great coffee shop. The 63-room Riders are compact but cool, with walk-in rain showers, black metalwork and plywood beds alongside bare lightbulbs and brushed-concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, with many looking out over the frozen lake from which the carbon-neutral hotel derives its heat. For the adrenaline junkies, you’ll find the Freestyle Academy next door, featuring skate ramps, trampolines and dry-slope jumps into an airbag.
Rosa Alpina, The Dolomites, Italy
Glide through the peace and tranquility of snow-covered valleys partaking in some ‘mindful skiing’ in the form of cross-country skiing, with the backdrop of the Dolomite mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s all about clearing our heads of unwanted thoughts, controlling our breathing, dismissing our fears and increasing our focus, and if there’s anything that makes you more mindful, it’s this village, this crisp air, this ultramarine sky.
Cross country skiing: while its a workout far more hectic than it looks, the slower pace means you can take advantage of the washed-out Italian sun rising above the mountains, the sharp blue of the sky above, the burning crisp coldness of the air, and the gorgeous snow-dripped pine trees you’re skating through. It also means the public areas including the spa and yoga studio are a welcome break after a day out on the slopes.