Where are the hippest places to be staying on the slopes this season? French fave Flaine is well worth a visit, especially since one of the town’s brutalist lodges has been re-imagined as the Terminal Neige Totem – complete with cosy sofa furnishings, cool staff and a listed (and Instagram worthy) fireplace. Elsewhere in the Alps, Val d’Isère’s Le Yule takes ski-chalet chic to new heights of luxury – think Scandi-inspired décor and a stone-clad spa – while White 1921 in Courchevel is as sought after by the cognoscenti as the champagne from which it takes its name. If sun + snow + Brit design is more to your taste, El Lodge in Spain’s Sierra Nevada serves up Andrew Martin style in a spectacular mountain setting. See you on the powder!
TERMINAL NEIGE TOTEM
FLAINE, PAYS DU MONT-BLANC, FRANCE
The lowdown An industrial-luxe outpost on the Alpine slopes.
Best for Ski lovers with a penchant for brutalist architecture.
Built from scratch during the Sixties, the resort of Flaine is just on on the tree line, so it's snow sure. Originally comprising a series of lodges and apartments, mostly all designed by Marcel (Wassily chair) Breuer in his signature brutalist style, the Terminal Neige Totem is the first to be recast as a plush hotel.
Each of the doubles, club doubles and suites is dressed in hip, urban fashion, with open ceilings, bold blocks of charcoal and subtle graphics (we loved the wide expanse of glazing providing uninterrupted views outside). The spa includes an outdoor hot tub, gym and hamman, while food is catered for by two well-stocked diners offering buffets and sharing plates.
Once you’re out on the slopes, there are lifts to numerous spots across the Grand Massif, so there's easy access to the sport, whether you're into cruising the blue runs or taking an off-piste powder trek.
MARIBEL, Sierra Nevada, SPAIN
The lowdown An Andrew Martin refurb in Grenada’s major ski resort.
Best for Fans of Finnish-style log retreats with added Spanish sun.
Look across the peaks and ridges of the Sierra Nevada and, yes indeed, that is the Mediterranean you can see, with the shores of North Africa beyond. It’s this unlikely paradox that makes the resort such an enticing prospect, with guaranteed sunshine and the best spring snow conditions in Europe.
And just to mix up the imagery even further, along comes El Lodge – a quirky boutique hotel built entirely from Finnish wood, but furnished with a true Brit sensibility, courtesy of Mr Martin.
So if you fancy lounging on a deep-slung Chesterfield while gazing at offbeat art, or enjoying an après-ski cocktail while swathed in luxe faux fur on the terrace, this is the place to be. Many of the expansive 20 rooms and suites have balconies with private whirlpool tubs and the spa also features an outdoor sauna.
Gourmet dining is available at The Grill restaurant, with tasty snacks on offer in both the super-chic bar and the spacious sun deck. And just to prove how funky El Lodge is, the hotel even boasts a ski-boot warming service. How cool is that?
COURCHEVEL, LES TROIS VALLEES, FRANCE
The lowdown A fuss-free boutique hotel located in hip Courchevel 1850.
Best for Ski bunnies who don’t need a fancy base from which to explore.
Although it’s situated slap bang on the Creosote in ritzy, glitzy Courchevel 1850, White 1921 is refreshingly down to earth – the aim here isn’t to dazzle, but to create a laid-back, genuine Alpine experience.And it does the job with aplomb. Open from mid-December to early April, it offers a thoughtful, personal service in a gorgeous setting.
Designed by celebrated architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the 26-room hotel is a nicely turned out affair – walls and floors are decked with geometric, triangle-based designs in a witty nod to the epic views over the mountain peaks and colour is used sparingly.
While you won’t find a five-star eaterie here, head down to pared-back chic Grand Salon for scrummy gourmet breakfasts to sustain you on the slopes. And after a day of serious snow motion, pop into the snug Petit Salon, where you can cosy up with a yummy hot chocolate. Also don’t forget to treat yourself to a soothing interlude in the Wellness Centre, complete with sauna, hamman and Jacuzzi. Who needs flashy showiness when you have all this?
FRONT DE NEIGE, VAL D'ISERE, FRANCE
The lowdown A super-luxe five-star resort with real spa power.
Best for Those who like skiing and spa-ing in equal measure.
Situated at the foot of two spectacular slopes, as well as basking in awesome mountain views, relative newbie Le Yule – it opened its doors less than a year ago on the site of the old Grand Paradis hotel – also offers a ski-in, ski-out experience. Decked out in a Scandi chic style – think wall panelling, snuggly faux-fur throws and subtle hues – the 41 rooms are mostly south-facing, with glorious sun-trap balconies.
Food-wise, you’re spoilt for choice as dishes on offer range from classic French cuisine to burgers and fondues, while the Lounge Bar serves addictively good cocktails. The skiing is, natch, top-notch, but the other big draw here is the Spa Nuxe, with its energizing menu of treatments and swimming pool and Jacuzzi positioned to give panoramic views of the Bellevarde piste.
It’s such a huge attraction, in fact, that exhausted parents will appreciate the fab games room, which has PlayStation, pool and table football and is perfect for keeping the junior members of the crew out of mischief while you just lie back and, sigh, R-E-L-A-X…
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