Europe is home to some of the most traditional and luxurious ski destinations. Check out the best of Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria.
The first geographic location to become a trademark, St. Moritz truly shines, not only because of its prominence in winter sports or the sun depicted in its logo. Little by little, the resort took the Alpine lifestyle to another level, with an agenda full of world-class events, high-end hotels and award-winning gourmet restaurants, six of which have earned Michelin stars. Then came the famous brand names found along the Via Serlas: Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Bulgari…
What you will come across is an elegant and miniature Swiss city – at about 6,089 feet. Amidst its heterogeneous architecture, are historic constructions, some resembling castles, and even a house designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
This ski resort represents luxury, elegance and tradition, sought after by international jet-setters that seek glamour on and off of the 217 miles of slopes. There is a frozen lake that hosts polo, cricket and even horse-racing during the famous White Turf, which takes place annually since 1907. And the après-ski is very lively here.
WHERE TO STAY IN ST MORITZ
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel
Built in an ancient 19th-century palace facing Saint Moritz’s lake, the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has been under the care of the same family for five generations. The impeccable service starts right from the beginning when guests are greeted at the airport and driven to the hotel in a Rolls-Royce. Although it is a luxury hotel, Badrutt’s is also incredibly kid-friendly: there is an outdoor playground and ice skating rink as well as a kid’s club that organizes cooking classes, art workshops and even parties. Fun fact: The filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock, was a loyal guest of the hotel.
Legend has it that the Carlton Hotel was originally built to be the Tsar Nicolau II’s summer home. The story has never been confirmed – or disregarded –, but it’s true that it served as inspiration for the Swiss designer, Carlo Rampazzi, who completely renovated the 1913 building. With only 60 suites, this is first and foremost a charming boutique hotel, offering an intimate atmosphere. Its few guests enjoy spacious rooms overlooking the St. Moritz lake, a restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef and a three-story spa, with saunas and swimming pools.
With 160 years of tradition, Kulm’s history is intertwined with that of St. Moritz’s. The city became a winter destination thanks to the hotel’s first owner, Johannes Badrutt, who encouraged two Englishmen to be the first visitors to explore the destination at that time of year. In addition to having some of the most elegant and traditional rooms within the resort, it features a complete infrastructure, which includes indoor and outdoor heated pools, a 21,528 ft2 spa, a kid’s club and five different restaurants, including a Michelin-starred one.
Courchevel is divided into four levels according to altitude and its highest level is also the most popular: Courchevel 1850. It is essentially Courchevel 1850 that is the reason why Courchevel is considered the most luxurious resort in Europe and therefore, has a lifestyle of its own.
Together with Méribel and Val Thorens, Courchevel is part of the largest skiing area in the world. Known as Le Trois Vallées, this region is known for its off-piste skiing and at the same time, is also a paradise for those who prefer to stay within the circuits: the three valleys are interconnected by 166 lifts and about 373 miles of slopes.
Courchevel is home to one of the largest concentrations of five-star hotels in all of France. The number of Michelin-starred restaurants here is impressive: there are six in total, one of which boasts a maximum score of three Michelin stars. Here, even the restaurants on the slopes are gourmet.
As if that weren’t enough, the resort also offers stores for the world’s largest brands and is considered one of the best shopping destinations of the Alps. Guests will also come across renowned brands at its numerous spas. It’s easy to understand why Courchevel remains a favorite among international jet-setters.
WHERE TO STAY IN COURCHEVEL
Apart from being a ski-in/ski-out hotel, the Cheval Blanc is undoubtedly the most luxurious in Courchevel. Each of the 36 suites and apartments is unique, yet all present sophistication in every detail. Its restaurant, the Le 1947, is the resort’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars. The products in its spa are signed by Guerlain.
The ski-in/ski-out hotel is ideal for families: in addition to rooms that can be connected, which help better accommodate parents and their little ones, it has one of the largest Kids Clubs in town, with areas divided by age group. For adults, the spa offers treatments signed by La Prairie and there are two great restaurants. It has 53 suites and two chalets and is next to the old Olympic ski jump ramp.
Located at the foot of the Cospillot slope, the ski-in/ski-out hotel has 29 rooms and 5 private chalets, all very spacious and equipped with the best technology. The Le Kintessence restaurant is located inside and has been awarded two Michelin stars. Guests will also find the Goji Spa, which uses products from the Swiss brand Valmont. The Kids Club is also worth mentioning, with video games, simulators and even an interactive dance floor.
The experience of being in Zermatt is truly special right from the time you arrive. Only small electric taxis and horse-drawn carriages are allowed to circulate through the village, where just over five thousand inhabitants live. On the way to the hotel, you will pass small streets, lined with typical alpine chalets – some of them, built more than 200 years ago.
Isolated from the surrounding elevations is a peak that stands out from every angle: the Matterhorn, whose slightly sloping tip is featured on the packaging of every Toblerone chocolate bar. At 14,691 feet, this is one of the main symbols of Switzerland and serves as the backdrop for the descents. And the slopes are incredible! Isolated from the surrounding elevations is a peak that stands out from every angle: the Matterhorn, whose slightly sloping tip is featured on the packaging of every Toblerone chocolate bar. At 14,691 feet, this is one of the main symbols of Switzerland and serves as the backdrop for the descents. And the slopes are incredible! Famous for the abundance and quality of its snow, Zermatt is divided into three distinct areas – Sunegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat-Stockhorn and Schwarzsee-Matterhorn – and connects to Cervinia, Italy. Switzerland’s largest heli-ski operation is located here and it’s possible to ski from January to January on the Theodul glacier at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
At the end of the day, skiers will find comfort at the boutique hotels, lively nightlife and a considerable amount of gourmet restaurants, four of which were awarded Michelin stars.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT
Upon arriving in Zermatt, guests are taken to the Mont Cervin Palace in an elegant horse-drawn carriage. This detail gives an elegant touch to the experience and demonstrates the hotel’s hospitality. The Mont Cervin Palace is on the main street of the village. In addition to rooms decorated in different styles, it has a resort-worthy infrastructure, with a spa of about 21,527 ft2, a Kids Club and eleven options of bars and restaurants, including an award-winning Michelin star restaurant.
Cervo Mountain Boutique Resort
Zermatt’s only ski-in/ski-out hotel combines the qualities of a five-star hotel with the exclusive services of a boutique hotel. It has only 36 rooms divided into six chalets, each with its own spa, which includes a massage room and dry and steam saunas. The decoration, which combines traditional alpine elements with touches of modernity, is accompanied by stunning views of the Matterhorn.
The small village of Lech is located in the beautiful Arlberg region, amidst the Austrian Alps, where the typical mountain town atmosphere has a touch of sophistication.
While it is frequented by international jet-setters, members of the European nobility, Olympic champions and celebrities, the region maintains a pleasant low-profile vibe.
In spite of the small size, Lech offers a concentration of great hotels, restaurants and après-ski bars. Zürs, an even smaller village, is about three miles away. Because of their close proximity, the two end up functioning as a single resort, but each has its own individuality. Zürs is full of white buildings with wooden balconies and provides an even quieter experience, which makes it perfect for families.
Its skiable area, on the other hand, is far from small. Lech and Zürs connect with 5 other resorts, including St. Anton, which is nearby. Together, they offer a total of about 190 miles of slopes and another 124 miles for freeriding, with thin and abundant snow.
WHERE TO STAY IN LECH ZÜRS
A few minutes from the slopes, it has 29 individually decorated apartments: each one is inspired by a different culture, from French to Asian. Guests also have a small spa, in addition to five bars and restaurants – one of them serves fondues and raclettes in a lounge heated by a fireplace. This hotel-boutique offers completely personalized service: simply inform the team of your desire, from helicopter flights over the mountains to picnics in the snow.
One of the favorite ski resorts among international jet-setters, Gstaad’s motto is “come up and slow down.” In addition to snow sports, it also offers a genuine alpine experience. As a holiday destination, it’s a sophisticated choice, but you will feel inclined to relax, whether it’s dining at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants or enjoying a picnic and the mountainous landscape.
Gstaad is a gastronomic paradise, with more than a hundred restaurants ranging from cozy spaces to acclaimed gourmet temples. Cars don’t circulate on its streets and in recent years, the village center has developed in such a way that its shopping street, the smallest in Switzerland, has also become the most famous.
In the winter, more than 137 miles of slopes await skiers and snowboarders. The tour of the Les Diablerets glacier and the Peak Walk by Tissot – a bridge that connects two peaks and allows you to see the Matterhorn and the Mont Blanc on clear days – are a must.
WHERE TO STAY IN GSTAAD
A discreet and traditional alpine refuge with only 56 rooms, ensuring an exclusive service to its guests. It houses an extensive collection of artwork, Michelin-starred restaurants and one of the best spas in the region, the Six Senses. It is a 10-minute walk from Gstaad’s center and offers beautiful views.
Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy
Cortina d’Ampezzo was the headquarters of the Alpine World Championships in 2021 and is the most sophisticated ski resort in Italy. Its main avenue, Corso Italia, brings together shops, cozy hotels, restaurants and delicatessens that invite you to enjoy a cappuccino or creamy hot chocolate.
You won’t find any cars in the center of the charming village in Veneto, which is why it’s so nice to walk around. The Basilica Minore is in the heart of the village, with its 213-foot iconic bell tower. The après-ski is calm and refined – offering the region’s finest wines.
Cortina is the most famous resort among the Dolomiti Superski, a set of 12 ski areas in the Dolomites mountains that comprises 746 miles of skiable terrain and can be explored with only one pass. Cortina alone has about 75 miles of slopes and its mountains are divided into three ski areas, each with totally different characteristics: Tofana-Socrepes, Faloria-Cristallo and Cinque Torri-Lagazuoi.
WHERE TO STAY IN CORTINA D’ AMPEZZO
The hotel is named after a local phenomenon – the pink sunset in the Dolomites Mountains or the “enrosadira” in the local dialect. The hotel was designed by the Milan designer Carlo Samarati who took care of every detail, prioritizing the comfort of its guests. La Corte del Lampone restaurant, which overlooks the mountains, offers a regional and delicate menu, intensified by alpine essences from its own garden.
Cristallo Resort & Spa
Luxury, comfort, gastronomy, an excellent location and lots of history! This is one of those hotels that’s part of the local culture. Opened in 1901, it hosted famous figures like Claudia Cardinale and Brigitte Bardot and was the scenery of films like 007 and The Pink Panther. It served as a military hospital during the First World War and thanks to the heirs of the Menardi family, lived a new era of prosperity in 1947 during the post-war period. Then, in the 90s, a businessman from Bologna decided to bring the Cristallo back to its days of glory and splendor.