Andorra’s sunny slopes, Brit-led ski schools and duty-free shops are the makings of a terrific half term on the snow: first timers, families and groups return here every year. This might be a pint-sized country but it’ll see your week full to the brim with activities – at a fraction of the cost you’d find elsewhere.
Letting you leave the hard work to your hosts, some of the best half-terms can be had in a catered chalet. Truth be told, these aren’t as abundant here as in France, but there are still some top properties up for grabs – and when breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals are included six days of the week, you’re looking at a hassle-free stay in the mountains.
For extensive skiing by day and R&R by night, ski the massive Grandvalira area from the small village of El Tarter.
This is where you’ll find Xalet Casale and Xalet Moxto – grand, rustic stone properties peering over the village, with 20 and 11 rooms respectively. They’re best suited to adult groups, or families with older children as getting there includes a bit of uphill walking - but rest assured, the legwork’s compensated by the quiet and scenic location. On the host’s night off, you’ll find Dylan’s and other nearby restaurants serving up crowd pleasers like pizzas and burgers – usually for under a tenner.
Half term hotel deals here are just the ticket for saving some Euros without forfeiting what really matters: the spas. Andorra’s known for its cut-rate luxury: with places like Arinsal’s Princesa Parc & Diana Parc Spa Hotel rolling out 5 star facilities at 3 star prices.
Of course the white stuff is what really matters… and it pays to have doorstep skiing. Properties like Arinsal’s Hotel Patagonia or Hotel Sport Village in Soldeu will see you straight onto the piste (the latter’s actually adjoined to the gondola), a godsend if you’ve children on board.
Groups have always made a bee-line for Pas de la Casa, where hotels like the Font d’Argent will put you in stumbling distance of Kamikaze and other legendary bars. If you value your night’s sleep, Hotel Magic Pas’s further from the centre but more than recoups the loss with easy slope and ski school access, all the better for spending every second on the snow.
Wherever you choose to lay your head, Andorra’s a top pick for skiing on a shoestring. To stretch the budget even further (and make the week a lot more flexible while you’re at it), book self-catering.
Pas de la Casa’s Manzano Apartments have cheap group holidays down pat – we love the location which is in the centre of town, near Burger King and Paddy’s Irish Bar as well as supermarkets like JMM. The folk at the St Moritz Apartments in sunny Arinsal also know how to make self-catering a breeze – step outside and you’re met by a supermarket, cash machine and the ever-popular Polar restaurant.
You can’t beat a ski-out location, a fact the Aparthotel Del Clos in El Tarter’s banking on: doorstep skiing is its pride and glory, and it’s moments from the main gondola for access to the nursery slopes, one of Europe’s best snowparks and the wider Grandvalira area.