When you think of the Alps in winter time, you’re thinking of snow, ski, and with any luck, some sunny slopes. You’re probably also thinking of the après-ski party crowds that fill the town squares, anglophone pubs and night clubs that fill the quaint villages with winter mirth and the accompanying noise. Although a little post-piste party is a welcome occasion, your tired legs may need a break, a footrest and a quality cocktail whose warming goodness flows to your elevated toes.
The quality and atmosphere you’re seeking in this case lies mostly within the realm of the region’s five-star hotels. Don’t worry. You don’t actually have to stay in the hotels to enjoy their calm. Even if you’re staying in a budget resort and find yourself in need of some respite, you can leave the kids behind at the chalet or take a break from disco dancing, recline in a lounge chair in alpine rooms or heated terraces, and enjoy a perfectly crafted cocktail while staring in awe at the natural white wonder that surrounds you.
The most Eastern resort in Les Trois Vallées, the world’s largest interconnected ski area, Courchevel is actually divided into four different sections according to their height on the mountain, heights ranging from 1,300 metres to 1,850 metres. At the highest level lapped in luxury, you will find the K2 Hotel. If the 26 rooms and eight suites with mountain views weren’t enough, you could dine at the group of chalets’ Michelin starred restaurant or exit your door, skis strapped on, right onto the pistes. The most comforting is to know that when you glide back into to the hotel, you can have a seat in Le 8611 Bar where the expert cocktail staff will serve you up the concoction of your choice or introduce you to their local eau de vie selection.
This five-star mountain village rests at the foot of the Espace Killy resort comprised of over 300km of pistes where you can tire yourself out before your return to your chalet room, complete with private sauna and jacuzzi. When you’ve relaxed your muscles with the warming water, pop into one of the two resort bars to warm the soul. A wide selection of spirits awaits including local eau de vies, champagne cocktails and house cocktails.
Located in the town of Chamonix right off the main drag you’ll find the Hameau Albert 1er five-star hotel. Twenty-one rooms, including those with your own wood burning fireplace, will ease your muscles out of your ski boots and get them walking again - down to the hotel’s Quartz Bar. With live jazz, a selection of the finest French wines and house cocktails that include mixes with the local Alpine spirit, Genepi, a delicious, jazzy night at the Quartz Bar will get you ready for the pistes again the next morning.
Follow Ab Fab’s Edina and Patsy to the bustling ski resort town of Val d’Isère, a few kilometres from the Italian border and even closer to Tignes. The eccentric sit-com characters were disappointed to find a lack of celebrities and posh night club action, but you’re probably not looking for that anyway after a long day on or off-piste. For a relaxing drink, head to the 5-star Hotel Savoie’s Champagne and Wine bars and relax on the terrace with a view of the surrounding hills. When you’re peckish, you could dine on the haute cuisine at the hotel restaurant, Grain de Sel.
Founded by a Scotsman back when the Nazi political party was rising to power in pre-war Germany, Méribel, like Courchevel, also lies in Les Trois Vallées region of the Tarentaise Valley. The ski town’s first and only 5-star site, Le Kaila, offers the luxuries you’d normally find in similar surroundings - incredibly comfortable accommodations and complete spa experiences - combined with a gastronomic restaurant and lounge bar. The bar will pour you a glass of wine or whisky, or you can talk with the bartenders and they’ll fix you up something more to your taste.