Heaps of snow, minimal sunlight, gusty winds that make you feel like you might as well be at the North Pole…these are some of the reasons we dread winter, or at least its length. But there are, of course, plenty of perks that come along with the frigid temps — ski vacations being one of them. Even if hitting the slopes isn’t your cup of hot cocoa, clicking into a set of skis is well worth it when it means you can return to a cozy chalet after a day spent traipsing down the mountain. Chalet-style ski resorts are nothing new, but we’ve traveled the globe and have found the most charming chalet properties in the world.
The 71-room Les Fermes de Marie is a five-pearl, family-friendly ski hotel with lots of Alpine character. Located in a picturesque mountain setting on a repurposed five-acre farm, this property combines rustic coziness and celebrity-level indulgence. The country-chic rooms are clean, spacious, and exquisitely decorated, with exposed wood ceiling beams and glamorous bathrooms. Les Fermes offers a full-service spa, fitness center, and great kids' programming, including cooking and ski lessons. The on-site restaurants serve fresh local cuisine, good wine, and decadent cheese dishes, and there are facilities for ski storage. Wi-Fi and parking are both free.
Modeled after a traditional spa hotel in the southern German region of Bavaria, the Sonnenalp is one of Vail’s most iconic properties. Operated by Johannes Faessler, whose family founded and still operates the original European resort hotel, the Vail iteration evokes its German counterpart in architecture, decor, facilities, and welcoming atmosphere. Suites are outfitted with heavy oak furniture, gas fireplaces, and heated marble floors in the bathrooms, while the five restaurants offer both German and local cuisine. The hotel is centrally located in Vail Village, within easy walking distance of the gondola and many shops and restaurants. Every component of this luxury hotel has received an award of some sort, from its European-inspired restaurants to its bountiful spa, although some guests find the decor a bit dated and in need up updating.
This upscale mountain escape in the Italian Alps near the French border (thus the French name "Heart of Snow") is less a hotel and more a cluster of 16 charming chalets all sporting rustic-luxe decor and modern conveniences. Wooden furniture, floors and walls, working fireplaces, faux fur throws on the beds, and warm colors make each chalet (with private entrances) feel like a separate cabin in the woods (albeit one with free Wi-Fi and satellite TV). Situated within minutes of the ski slopes and also downtown Courmayeur, guests can ski in/ski out of the property (or easily walk predicated on the season) to the gondolas for outdoor activities, and then return "home" to recover in their quiet mountain retreat with a restorative spa. The spa has gorgeous views, which most of the rooms lack.
The upscale Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is set in a little village of barely 1,000 residents, and most travelers head this way simply to experience the resort and its famed facilities, including its top-shelf golf course and record-holding indoor pool. While the 211 rooms feature several modern amenities like data ports and HDTVs, worn interiors in rooms and throughout the hotel do betray its age, which extend back to 1930. The beautifully kept grounds, views, range of recreational activities, and historic charm are big draws.
The setting alone makes the three-and-a-half-pearl Pineta Hotels Nature Wellness Resort pretty special -- nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by thick forest on the edge of a small mountain village. The property itself is also picture-perfect Alpine chalet, while the spa facilities really impress. The hotel restaurant is excellent, which is useful as there's not much other dining around. There's free breakfast and Wi-Fi, plus scheduled activities and bikes to borrow. Rooms are mostly simple, but very cozy, many with stunning views. For a secluded and tranquil stay close to nature, it doesn't get much better than this -- the rates aren't bad either.
The Savoy Hotel is a grand chalet-style property set in the stunning surrounds of northern Italy's Val Gardena. Access to the Sella Ronda ski circuit direct from the hotel's ski room makes it popular with skiers, while trails that start nearby attract hikers in the summer months. Leisure facilities are top-notch, especially the spring-fed pool and spa, and the restaurant and extensive wine cellar also impress. Rooms are a little lackluster for an advertised four-star hotel, but overall it's an excellent choice, albeit not a particularly cheap one.
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. Facilities include two pools and a large spa area. Most rooms have balconies with wonderful mountain views, though some interiors feel a little plain. While kids are welcome, there's not much for them, and noise is openly discouraged.
The 24-room mid-range Auberge Le Manoir is a charming chalet nestled in Chamonix, France’s famous Alps village. Guest rooms are cozy and rustic, with modern features and en-suite bathrooms, and are available in a variety of sizes. The property has a country craft vibe and the hotel’s bar is a particularly lovely place to relax after a day on the slopes. The center of town is a five-minute walk from the hotel, and there is an on-site sauna and spa for guest use, not to mention an excellent homemade breakfast buffet.
The 62-room Cristal Palace Hotel is an upscale chalet-style property close to the center of Madonna di Campiglio, a quaint skiing village. The amazing mountain setting is the star attraction here, and lends the hotel some serious storybook charm. The Cristal Palace is a solid choice for vacationing skiers, thanks to free shuttle service to the lifts, and an on-site spa. The kids' club accommodates families with young children, too. The hotel is well-priced, offering rates lower than most of the same caliber in the surrounding area.
The 17-room upscale Hotel et Chalet Au Coin de Feu Chilly Powder offers an authentic chalet experience right at the base of the Avoriaz ski runs in the Portes du Soleil ski region of the French Alps. Accommodations include traditional and family rooms as well as private chalets, all of which are cozy. The hotel’s many family-friendly amenities, like supervised daycare, mean that the property books out well in advance. Adults will find plenty to love here, too, including gourmet breakfasts and dinners as well as an outdoor hot tub.
The Hotel Gardenia is a traditional mountain-style chalet hotel with elegant interiors and a home-like, family-friendly ambience. Its setting in the Puez–Odle Nature Reserve means picturesque surroundings, while a free shuttle gives easy access to nearby skiing. There's enough to keep kids and adults entertained, from spa facilities to a kids' club, and rooms have quaint alpine style, although are sometimes a bit small. Rates aren't cheap for a hotel of this caliber, but plenty of extras make it a reasonable value, especially given its stunning scenery.
The luxurious 170-room Stein Eriksen Lodge offers ski-in, ski-out access to Deer Valley Resort, and has a design style that could be described as "wilderness chic." Rooms are spacious with lodge decor, comfortable bedding and clean bathrooms with Molton Brown toiletries. Besides the highly reputed spa, the two restaurants (make sure to try the Stein burger) and year-round outdoor pool with a large fireplace add to the lodge's popularity.
This upper-middle-range Alpine chalet is located a 10-minute drive outside of Canazei, right on the slopes in the Dolomite mountains with direct ski-in, ski-out access. It's an official Dolomite Walking Hotel, so guests can enjoy expert guided hikes three times a week. Though it draws many couples (who will likely enjoy the wellness center), families also stay here and can take advantage of the outdoor play area and pool. Rooms have attractive classic style, with lots of wood and traditional fabrics, and most have balconies. Note that the in-room Wi-Fi signal can be weak and that the hotel does not have any planned evening activities, unlike some other hotels in the area.
This rustic-luxe, chalet-inspired lodge is one of Vail's premier options, with a location in the heart of Vail Square, near the Eagle Bahn lift. The 62 luxurious rooms feature massive bathrooms, stone fireplaces, and scenic balconies. The apres-ski scene is thriving here, with a spacious outdoor patio and cozy tavern for snacks, cocktails, and full meals. The rooftop pool offers another scenic spot to relax, while the 10,000-square-foot spa complex has a long list of eco-conscious treatments.
The 30-suite Hotel Quintessence is a luxury boutique property on Lake Tremblant with a polished chalet feel within walking distance of attractions, shops, and restaurants. Contemporary, luxurious suites have balconies or terraces with lake views, heated marble floors, stone fireplaces, and separate soaking tubs and walk-in showers, plus some have wet bars, powder rooms, and outdoor hot tubs and fireplaces. A full service spa with a sauna and steam room as well as a 24/7 fitness center are available on-site, plus there's a beautiful outdoor infinity pool (open seasonally) and hot tub with wonderful lake views. There's also an elegant restaurant and wine bar serving tasty French fare that receives excellent reviews, but guests complain the prices are high.
Hotel del Oso is a luxury property with affordable rates and a welcoming staff, located a short drive from the Picos de Europa Mountains. Natural beauty and the excellent on-site restaurant are the main draws here -- the restaurant is known to fill up with locals who gather for the traditional Cantabrian cuisine. Nicely manicured grounds include an unheated swimming pool, gardens, and recreational facilities like a playground and tennis court. Rooms are decorated simply but luxuriously in a lodge theme with pine furnishings.
The Four Seasons Vail opened in 2011, and is one of the area’s top hotels. All the rooms have warm colors, stone fireplaces,balconies, and huge marble bathrooms with standalone soaking tubs, and almost every amenity impresses, particularly the upscale spa (one of the best in Vail Valley) and lovely outdoor pool area. But it's not directly on the slopes -- guests face a 10-minute walk, or a short hotel shuttle ride.