It’s a fairy-tale moment winding around the snowy mountain roads that lead up to Le Coucou from Geneva airport, passing Lake Annecy on the way and observing a way of life that feels a world away from London. Positioned on a piste-side location in Méribel, Le Coucou is a playground for design buffs and avid skiers alike, offering a stylish base from which to explore the Three Valleys.
Ski-in ski-out Le Coucou is part of Maison Pariente’s expanding portfolio of hotels spread across Provence, Saint-Tropez, Méribel, and an exciting opening in Paris later this year. With typical flair, the Pariente sisters Leslie Kouhana and Kimberly Cohen have brought their laidback warmth and careful eye to the 55-room hotel. The result is a swish home-from-home with a focus on art, masterly comfort food, and spectacular design by Paris-based architect Pierre Yovanovitch.
The Packing Edit
Playful, contemporary, and classy without being excessively bling bling like some spots in the Three Valleys.
Pierre Yovanovitch’s playful colour palette and artful use of light might be the first thing to catch your eye on entry. Various lamps of different shapes and sizes feature in a nod to the designer’s playful aesthetic. The polka dot carpet in the hotel’s signature terracotta hue can’t be missed, a pinkish shade that runs throughout the hotel to give the space a retro feel.
On the terrace, two gorgeous tartan chairs made from wood sit side by side with therapeutic views of the mountains in front. Chunky blankets are provided in the rooms for sitting outside with an espresso or a glass of something from the mini bar. A tiny window between the bathroom and main living area is another fun feature courtesy of Yovanovitch, offering a glimpse of the Alpine views from the bathtub.
For an ultra-private stay, the two chalets benefit from four floors worth of living space, including a private living room, dining area, kid’s snug, kitchen, a private spa on the lower ground, plus a ‘backdoor’ ski room for direct access to the slopes.
The Little Extras
Le Coucou’s Tata Harper spa is the place to recharge after a long day on the piste. Yovanovitch has created a sanctuary that is painstakingly detailed in design, from the colours right through to the layout. The spa’s indoor pool features arched coves that are like little private nooks and huge windows to showcase the Alpine scenery. Brave the ice-cold temperatures for a brief moment to enjoy an al-fresco dip in the heated outdoor pool before indulging in one of the Tata Harper treatments.
Daily afternoon tea is served from 4PM to 5:30PM for homemade crepes and hot chocolate by the fire – the best kind of interval for all-day skiers in need of some sugar. The smoking room (Le Fumoir) is a sleek spot for swigging peanut butter Old Fashioneds or partaking in a late-night karaoke session.
For families travelling with children, Le Coucou has its very own ski school and kid’s club with guided activities such as chocolate making and dog sledding to keep the mini globetrotters entertained.
The Food + Drink
Sharing is a large part of the process when dining at Le Coucou’s restaurants. The staff will vouch for this, offering personal recommendations in smooth French accents and making everything sound utterly delicious as they patiently relay the signature dishes.
At the BeefBar, ordering the sriracha corn to start is a top pick along with the gyozas. These are perfectly light and entirely veggie to balance the meat-centric meal to come. Rare cuts of chargrilled steak arrive in a flourish and are paired perfectly with a bottle of the Larrivet Haut-Brion (2015), another personal recommendation from the staff. The secret sauce is a delicious green served in a separate dish alongside the Chateaubriand. It’s a recipe from Paris that the staff won’t delve into, sparking further intrigue as guests linger over the smell and taste in an attempt to sniff out the secret ingredients.
Dessert is a delight, a silky-soft gelato that comes with a selection of adorable toppings – toffee sauces and sophisticated sprinkles in shades of brown and beige. For the grand finale, a swig of the French shot Genepi goes down a treat, instantly warming your entire body like a snuggly warm hug moments before hitting the hay.
The refreshed menu at Biancaneve, Le Coucou’s Italian restaurant, ticks all the boxes for dining at a high altitude. It’s a mix of full-flavoured and comforting plates of pasta served with rich and creamy truffle sauces and generous lashings of cheese. The anchovy dressing on the Puntarelle salad is a highlight and makes for a light starter.
Lunching slope side? A long lunch at L’Apogée in Courchevel is a top contender for the Aperol Spritzes as much as the warming chestnut and mushroom soup. Or take a horse-drawn carriage to Le Clos Bernard, a cosy restaurant located in the heart of the Altiport forest in Méribel serving heaped platters of seafood and tartiflette. For dinner beyond the hotel, Le Cepe is a short walk away, serving up delicious mushroom-focused dishes and variations of cheese fondues.
The To-Do List
There’s so much more to Méribel than skiing. Snowshoeing is a popular alternative for a meditative meander in and around the surrounding woodlands, an activity that can be arranged for a few hours or as a day’s event. Heli Skiing, paragliding and snow yoga all remain an option.
For a taste of après culture beyond the hotel, La Folie Douce in Courchevel is the place to stop for toffee vodka shots and an impromptu boogie on the tabletops outside. Méribel’s centre is a buzzy spot in the winter with rowdy but loveable bars such as La Taverne (or The Tav) frequented by skiers and loyal locals year-round.