The finest 5 star hotels in the mountains.
Home to the likes of state-of-the-art spas, gourmet restaurants and no-expenses-spared service, these are the crème de la crème of the luxury ski hotels.
Whether you’re escaping for a hard-earned break or celebrating something special, expect to be pampered from sun up to turndown in any of this mountain elite.
Something of a Zermatt institution, the terribly Grand Hotel Zermatterhof was pieced together by local volunteers back in 1879 and their descendants have looked after the residence ever since. It’s filled with the kind of restaurants Zermatt has made a name for: 2 bars, a gourmet salon and mirrored brasserie are joined by a Swiss cheese restaurant. The newest addition already has 13 Gault&Millau points. Watch this space for a Michelin Star. With a modest 77 rooms and suites, this is grand on the smaller end of the scale – we love the exclusive, intimate feel.
Highlights • Glacier skiing • Europe's highest slopes • Awesome scenery
Hotel Kulm was Badrutt’s bargaining chip when he bet a bunch of Brits they’d have a cracking winter in St Moritz - and in the process became the founder of winter tourism. Suffice it to say, without the Kulm, ski holidays simply wouldn’t be what they are today. Now with over a century and a half of fine hospitality to its name, the Kulm remains the benchmark for ski hotels. The trickiest decisions you’ll face are whether your room overlooks the vast frozen lake, chocolate box village or Piz Nair massif - and which of the 5 restaurants to dine in each evening… Assuming, of course, you can tear yourself from the spa (recently refurbished for a cool £8 million).
Highlights • Stylish town centre • High-altitude glacier skiing • Glamorous après-ski
Freshest face on the Verbier hotel scene, which opened to rapturous applause for the 13/14 season, W hotel’s debut ski hotel marries New York’s urban cool with Swiss Alpine chic. Glass atria connect four gigantic chalets which house a sprawling spa, restaurants (the Arola’s run by twice Michelin starred Sergi Arola) and the entrance to a subterranean nightclub. If you manage to get a foot in the door, upgrade to a suite for prime alpine views and often your own bar or sauna.
Highlights • Vast interlinked 4 Valleys area • Vibrant and varied après ski • Chocolate box Swiss chalets • Incredible scenery
With a name inspired by the Tibetan term “Kailash” – translating to “Jewel of the Snows”, there’s no denying that Le Kaila’s a prominent gem in Meribel’s crown. Bedrooms come with en-suite Jacuzzis and steam rooms if you need a break from the gaspingly incredible NUXE Spa, where you’ll find a blue lagoon pool, Jacuzzi grotto, geysers, sauna and ice fountain. The offerings for families are equally fantastic - from kids’ cookery classes to a teen games room.
Highlights • 3 Valleys ski area • Excellent ski schools • Lively après ski
With its very own team of health gurus, Ortisei’s family-run Hotel Adler’s the perfect place for comprehensive detoxing on the mountains. When you’re not walking off fresh juices and “bio-light” energy cuisine in the 9000m private park or soaking your cares away in one of the brine, crystal or bubbling pools, you’ll be zipping off for exercise in the spectacular Dolomites (flown direct by the cable cars outside the Adler ski room).
Highlights • Amazing scenery • Charming village • Italian & Austrian influence
Perched atop the highest ski resort in Europe, the Koh-I Nor is every inch the glittering diamond it’s named after. You could probably spend all day gazing out across the snowy Tarentaise bowl from your balcony but the ubiquitous floor to ceiling windows are as much about being seen as looking out of: Come sundown, the building casts enough light to guide travellers from across the Savoy. We’d certainly scale mountains for the spa and restaurants here (the head chef scored two Michelin stars in his last venture and is gunning for more). In a nod to Val Thorens’ heavy-duty skiing clientele, the boot room walks straight out onto dizzying slopes.
Highlights • Highest resort in Europe • Top of the world's biggest interlinked ski area • Foodie Favourite • Off-slope activities galore
Based on a baronial Scottish castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the lord of all it surveys - namely, the jaw-dropping Banff National Park. Though we’d wager it wasn’t just the hotel’s monumental facades which earned its moniker as Canada's "Castle in the Rockies"- here guests are also greeted and treated like royalty, with a 3530m2 spa, bowling entertainment centre and gourmet restaurants.
Highlights • 3 ski resorts • Cosy mountain town • Stunning sights of the Rockies
Though it takes a special sort of structure to draw the eye from the Matterhorn, if anywhere’s going to it’s the world-leading Mont Cervin. Looking, for all its 19th century architecture, like a national gallery (and floodlit like one at night), you’ll find yourself scaling the mountain just to get an aerial shot of it. Hopefully they’ll carry on the tradition of having a horse drawn carriage come to collect you, for a week in apartment sized rooms, dips in the crystalline pool and dinner beneath chandeliers (the 3 restaurants share a veritable forest of 43 Gault-Milau points and a Michelin star).
Highlights • Glacier skiing • Europe's highest slopes • Awesome scenery
Jean Philippe Nuel is famed for designing hotels based on the clientele he imagines will stay… in which case the Avenue Lodge should be filled straight from the Parisian Catwalk. Cross the threshold from the grandiose Avenue Olympique and you may think you’ve stumbled into a modern work of art… You won’t be leaving in any sort of hurry, with fantastic lounge area and a spa that’s open up to 20 hours a day.
Highlights • ½ of Espace Killy • Fantastic après • Traditional chocolate box village • Skiable glacier
It wouldn’t take much persuasion to keep us here all four of the seasons - it’s frequently ranked among the top hotels in Canada and hopefully they’ll carry on sweetening the deal by dolling out hot chocolates to all who come in from the cold. It’ll take some practice to strike the right balance between Whistler’s legendary slopes and the Spa (recently crowned Canada’s best by Travel + Leisure) – let’s just say their signature sea-to-sky massage hits all the right knots...
Highlights • Largest ski area in North America • Consistently voted best in the world
The labour of love of Michelin star chef Simon Taxacher (Austria’s very own Heston), gastronomes should set a course for Kirchberg’s Relais and Chateaux Rosengarten. The top floor features a cookery studio, where guests can pick up tricks and watch the super-chef perform his culinary magic. There’s also a piano bar and a super-sophisticated spa with its own tea bar.
However you spend your stay – venture at least once to the other end of the frozen lake and witness how glorious this hotel looks against the landscape, surrounded by Banff’s UNESCO protected National Park on the banks of Lake Louise. Fairmont Chateau’s previous patrons (Marylin Monroe and the Queen to name but two) and long list of accolades are proof enough of the level of lux here.
Tapping into the mineral-packed waters bubbling through the Nock mountains, stay in Bad Kleinkircheim’s Thermal Spa Pulverer for a spa retreat au naturale. After spending the day in one of a million different saunas or filling your lungs out on the mountain, head below deck for a candlelit dinner in the wine cellar. The food is spectacular, with menus based around produce from the hotel’s very own farm, deer enclosure and fishing waters.
This region’s long been loved for its healing properties, and if your body’s crying out for a high-end hotel, the Ambassador’s just what the doctor ordered. For remedial resting, plonk yourself by a fire-pit on the terrace, where chief barman Souad Ben Mohammed recently won the Swiss Cocktail Battle – order one (purely for medicinal purposes) and you’ll soon see why. Alternatively, recuperate in the 1300m2 health club where you’ll soon become a convert to blissful balneotherapy. Or, it’s on with those ski boots - you can schuss straight from the door onto Crans-Montana’s curatively sunny ski area. We’re feeling better already.
The Hotel Alpine Palace is every bit as glamorous as its name suggests (especially if you bag a room in the shiny new wing). With a games room, kids club, and fluorescent outdoor pool, families in particular are in their element and can walk right out with hotel ski instructors to the main gondola – if you can spare any time for the slopes: that would be a waste of the sprawling wellness floor, art gallery, roof top bar and Gault-Milau decorated restaurants, wouldn’t it?
Grand in name as well as nature, the Fairmont Chateau is as much a Whistler landmark as the Blackcomb Mountain behind it. Assisted by the ski valet, you’ll glide straight out onto one of the world’s best ski areas before schussing back to the humungous Vida Spa, indoor and outdoor pools and not one, but 6 dining options- you shan’t be getting bored. If you’re skiing with sprogs, the restaurants have made quite a name for their tasty and healthy kid’s menus.
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