October has hit, the leaves are turning orange and the first signs of Christmas are creeping into our grocery stores. It gets earlier and earlier every year, but if you can’t beat them – join them! Throw yourself into hot chocolate season this year, with these luxury European escapes. From stunning ski lodges to cosy chalets and rejuvenating spas, we’ve got the round-up on the ultimate snowy European vacations.
Best European Ski Resorts
Whether you’re a pro snowboarder or keen to try out your first pair of skis, here’s our list of snowy mountain resorts you’re destined to fall in love with.
Les Arcs – France
Boasting 124 miles of windings slopes, this classic French Paradiski resort has everything a beginner would need to test their ski legs, whilst offering plenty more for advanced Snowsports fanatics. Daring visitors can try out the Aiguille Rouge black run, a 2,000-metre vertical plunge that takes skiers down the longest piste in the Alps. Alternatively, there are plenty of beautiful forested off-piste areas, for those that fancy an adventure into the unknown. If that wasn’t enough, take the famous double decker cable car across the valley to La Plagne, for access to a whole other resort.
Where to Stay – Les Arcs is absolutely stuffed full of stunning mountain lodges and chalets, many of which are ski-in-ski-out. Our top recommendation is L’Aguille Grive Chalets Hotel, with its rustic wooden lodges, sensitive décor, and panoramic balconies.
Price – Ski pass prices start at €41 per day for a limited selection of slopes within Les Arcs and up to €64 per day for access to the entire Paradiski area (recommended)
Gstaad – Switzerland
Nestled in the Bernese Oberland, this chic Ski resort has made a name for itself amongst the rich and famous worldwide. Famed for its shopping mile high street, bursting with boutique and designer shops, this resort has plenty more to offer outside of the slopes. The pistes themselves stretch 200km wide, reaching 3000 metres tall and offering a diverse array of routes and runs. Cross-country skiers can enjoy plenty of trails here, as well as winter walkers.
Where to Stay – Join the annual crop of international celebrities that visit Gstaad by staying in one of the luxury hotels. The Gstaad Palace is an awe-inspiring classic, but for those on a more realistic budget, Hotel Gstaaderhof is a beautiful wooden lodge with cosy, luxurious rooms.
Price – Ski pass prices vary day by day, depending on the season, but a day pass in December will cost you around €46.
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc – France
Another French classic ski resort, Chamonix is in the heart of the French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and host to the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924. A cable car takes visitors up the 3,842m Aiguille du Midi mountain – the highest vertical ascent for a cable car in the world. At the very top, a glass room has been erected off the edge of the mountainside, for a nerve-wracking panoramic view of Mont Blanc.
There are 5 ski resorts in Chamonix (Grands Montets, Les Houches, La Flegere, Le Tour and Le Brevent). Perhaps the best known route is the Vallée Blanche, a 20km route that dips between glaciers, mountainsides, crevasses and more.
Where to Stay – There are no end of luxury chalets in Chamonix, but for the whole ski-in-ski-out experience, try out Auberge du Bois Prin – a tiny 10-roomed chalet with oh-so-cosy rooms, Michelin star dining and food made with organic produce from the garden. At €199 a night, it’s a very affordable option for a luxury-grade stay.
Price – A one day pass for unlimited access to the slopes (across 3 different countries) costs €67 per day, but there are cheaper options for select access to certain resorts.
Luxury European Winter Spa Retreats
Skiing not your thing, but you still want to live the après ski glamour of a luxurious mountain lodge? Or perhaps you want to make 100% sure that you’ll have a pampering paradise to collapse in after a long day on the slopes? Here are the luxury winter spa escapes we’re getting most excited about.
Walliser Alpentherme – Switzerland
Has anything ever felt so luxurious as drifting in a thermal pool, the steam rising off the surface as you gaze out into the Swiss Alps in the distance? The Walliser Alpentherme spa in Switzerland does just this, with multiple warming baths and rejuvenating spa facilities, all designed to calm away your woes. Costing €30 for three-hour access, you’ll find it’s worth every cent.
Alpentherme Gastein – Austria
This family-friendly resort take relaxation to the next level, with its sweeping and diverse spa facilities. Designed to be a holiday in itself, the resort is partnered with multiple neighbouring accommodations, so you never have to leave! There are indoor pools, a mega outdoor pool, endless treatment options, a gym, saunas (including female only saunas) and more.
Alpentherme Gastein is particularly good for families, offering carefully designing spaces to keep families entertained with water slides and lazy rivers, whilst ensuring a peaceful environment for everyone. Prices vary depending on activities, but a single 4-hour ticket costs €32.50 per adult, and €19.50 per child.
European Mountain Chalet Escapes
Resorts and lodges are all well and good, but sometimes you just want a private chalet to escape to for the week and spend quality time with family or friends. These chalets are all private – meaning access to you and your group only, whilst retaining easy access to supermarkets, restaurants, and bars.
Chalet L’Atelier de Charlotte Chamonix – France
Located at the base of the Grands Montets resort, this luxurious chalet has been expertly designed to offer a comfortable stay fit for 6. With a private sauna and optional grocery delivery, you truly have no reason to leave – although the slopes are waiting for you if you choose. The gems of this property are a huge dark wood-burning fireplace, as well as a 32m² furnished terrace facing Mont Blanc. Prices are enquire only, and certain to be expensive, but if you were looking for peak luxury – look nowhere else.
Sarreyer Wooden Chalet – Switzerland
This modest converted stable offers a more classic and budget friendly alternative to a luxurious winter chalet escape. Sleeping 4 comfortably and 6 at a push, this place boasts stunning mountain and valley views, soft wooden interiors and a warming wood-burning stove. It also has several balconies, for scenery gazing at the Val de Bagnes with a warm blanket and drink. Located 25 minutes from neighbouring Verbier, guests can enjoy the action of one of Switzerland’s biggest ski resorts, before retreating to the secluded calm of this little lodge. Prices are a very reasonable €155 a night.
Casera Degnona Lodge – Italy
This recently rebuilt lodge is located in Chies d’Alpago, a stunning area nestled within the Belluno Pre-Alps. Complete with a bedroom jacuzzi, this place is perfect for a romantic escape, honeymoon or group of friends trip. Full of the most up-to-date amenities, including LCD TV, warm fireplace and full kitchen facilities, visitors can enjoy walks in the country and a back-to-nature escape whilst retaining all the comforts (and more!) of home. Price start at £250 per night.