Sure, North America has some beautiful slopes, but there's something about the Alps that elevates (literally and figuratively) the whole apres-ski experience. From Austria to Italy, Europe's ski mountains provide some of the best powder, runs, and views in the world. And the surrounding ski towns are perfect for settling in post-ski and enjoying the area -- whether that means curling up with hot cocoa or kicking off your snow-caked boots and throwing back a stein of the frothy stuff. So to help you decide upon your alpine destination for this year's European ski trip, here are the five coziest apres-ski hotels to choose from in the Alps (and Dolomites).
Perched above the South Tyrolian town of Scena, the Hotel Hohenwart has postcard-perfect views of the town below and surrounding mountains. All rooms have private balconies from which to enjoy the outlook. As the hotel is geared toward German-speaking guests visiting northern Italy, English is a third language here, which may dissuade the average anglophone traveler, but the friendly staff bends over backward to make sure it’s not much of an issue and the myriad amenities transcend language. Free breakfasts and daily buffets include locally grown ingredients, and the restaurant and bar’s wine list is extensive. Other than the mountains (the Merano 2000 ski area can be reached via a cable car from town in seven minutes), there isn’t much within walking distance, although the spa town of Merano is a short drive away. The hotel’s own spa is expansive, and its three pools include an outdoor, all-glass saline infinity pool with gorgeous views of the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Hotel Residenz Hochalm is an ultra-modern and family-friendly ski-in/ski-out alpine hotel. The four-pearl property has 48 guest rooms, each with a terrace and fantastic views of the mountains. There are spacious suites and split-level rooms to accommodate families, and even a kids’ menu at the on-site restaurant. Breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate, as well as use of the spa’s luxurious saunas. Rates at the hotel are usually on par with competitors in the area, and the hotel’s cozy yet new-age vibe sets it apart from the others.
The Granvara Relais & Spa Hotel is a grand and upscale chalet-style property set in extensive grounds overlooking some of the most impressive mountain scenery in Europe. Most rooms have balconies with wonderful views of the mountain, which skiers can easily reach from the hotel thanks to it’s being directly connected to the Val Gardena ski range. Facilities include two pools and a large spa area. Additional thoughtful details range from pine wood in the rooms, which is supposed to help guests sleep, and a restaurant serving local specialties.
The Verwohnhotel Votters Sportkristall is a 45-room, family-run, upscale resort nestled in the Austrian Alps in the quaint town of Kaprun, a tourist and sporting destination. The hotel features traditional Austrian decor with lots of natural hardwood. It’s within walking distance of several restaurants and multiple ski resorts. Highlights include a renovated spa with saunas, steam baths, a fitness room, an indoor pool and outdoor whirlpool; several lounge areas; and an on-site museum full of classic cars and motorbikes. Rooms, however, while spacious with balconies and terraces and views, have dated, uninspired decor, and those facing the road can be noisy. Winter packages are available that include an extensive buffet breakfast, afternoon snacks, and a four-course dinner, which can make this hotel an excellent value for an alpine ski trip.
Situated amid the Italian Dolomites, the family-run Tratterhof hotel is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, with its guided hiking tours and close proximity to the Gitschberg Jochtal ski slopes. The hotel has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from its fantastic outdoor pool, and even the most basic rooms have balconies. Like most of the upscale hotels in South Tyrol, it’s oriented both toward the outdoors and wellness, and it offers a full modern spa with saunas. Tratterhof’s particular blend of sophisticated amenities and rustic, simple pleasures make it one of the best hotels in the area. Seasonal operation means it’s only open from mid-May to early November, and from December until Easter. The Romantik Hotel Stafler, only 35 minutes away on the Brenner Autobahn, lacks the outdoor pool, but it’s open year-round and has a great restaurant.