The alpine chocolate box village of La Clusaz in the heart of the Aravis massif is the kind of resort that’s blessed with a multitude of stylish independent accommodations rover big brash hotels, and the St Alban Hôtel & Spa certainly falls into the former.
Located in the centre of the village with views out over the shimmering slopes, the 4-star property is only on its second season but it’s an address not to be missed. Inspired by the intimacy and warmth of an English club, guests are welcomed into a wood panelled lobby resplendent with chic mustard leather banquettes, velvet footstools and a library of over 21,000 French novels; it wouldn’t be out of place in the pages of some of the design magazines displayed on the dramatically lit shelves.
The art deco bar and dining room has more than a touch of the Wes Anderson about it, with its graphic backdrop and retro tub chairs. The addition of some stunning illustrations in the form of vintage-style ski posters add some cosiness to the walls; I would have loved for them to be on sale at reception as a souvenir, their pastel skies would fit right in to my gallery wall.
Guests can enjoy a classic continental breakfast with an almost overwhelming selection of baked goods. The temptation to squirrel away a pain au chocolat or Madeleine for later however was quashed with the knowledge of a daily afternoon tea slot, where you can come off the slopes and warm up with a cuppa and cake (or something a little stronger if the weather got the better of you). For those who don’t fancy the snowy stroll down to the village’s array of restaurants, they also offer a gourmet tapas menu in house along with a fine selection of cocktails.
The 48 rooms and suites are bedecked in omnipresent wood, with balconies looking out at the mountains and elegantly cosy tweed accents, aged leather hardboards, oak parquet flooring and black marble bathrooms. Rooms range from the cosy Simple Room, suitable for a solo adventurer up to Duplexes and Family Rooms suitable for up to five people; a great option if travelling as a family but would prefer the hassle-free organisation of a hotel over a self-catering option. Many rooms also come with the ubiquitous library, handy for practising one’s French, and if you’re lucky you may even find yourself in one with an extra little cubby hole in which to curl up with your book.
Down in the basement you’ll find a gem of a spa, a 250m area created in collaboration with French beauty brand Nuxe housing an indoor pool, sauna, Kneipp course of hydrotherapy jets, sensory shower, ice cave, relaxation room with salt wall and two treatment cabins. If the weather takes a turn (or you just need a break from the slopes…) it’s the ideal spot to while away an afternoon. With an extensive menu of massages, body treatments, facials and more it’s easy for time to disappear in such a relaxing space.
The pièce de résistance is the in-house ski shop, the practicality of which is not to be underestimated. Open daily from 8am to 7pm, it houses ski equipment for every level for hire or sale from some of the world’s top ski brands. During our visit we were kitted out and our equipment safely stored for the duration; so much easier and quicker than trekking down to the village and joining a queue each morning, it means you can grab your kit straight after breakfast and get out and about. Equipment can even be booked online in advance of your trip, meaning not a minute will be wasted.
This elegant addition to La Clusaz’s portfolio of accommodation is one not to be overlooked. It may be small but it’s mighty, both in design and delivery.