The 50 Best ski resorts

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Whether you’re a beginner headed for the nursery slopes or a black run aficionado, Sarah Barrell and our panel of ski experts have the lowdown on the best places to go in Europe – whatever your budget

The experts:

Daniel Elkan - Freelance ski-travel journalist and founder of website, snowcarbon.co.uk

Emma Carrick Anderson - Four-time Olympic ski racer and BBC Sochi contributor, www.snoworks.com

Matt Carroll - Writer specialising in travel and motoring, mattcarroll.co.uk

Felice Hardy - Co-editor of specialist ski information site, welove2ski.com

 

France:

St Gervais

“One of the Alps’ most underrated ski areas, considering its size, is the 400km Evasion Mont Blanc region,” says Daniel. “If you want to practise skiing powder snow that doesn’t get tracked out, this is a great place to come.”

Seven nights at hotel Monte Bianco in St Gervais cost from £507 per adult and from £105 per child, all-inclusive, including return journey by Eurotunnel crossing, peakretreats.co.uk

Meribel

“Host to the Women’s Alpine Races at the 1992 Olympic Games, Meribel is a charming family resort connecting Courchevel on one side and Val Thorens on the other,” says Emma. “It offers a huge array of skiing for every level, with all runs eventually leading back to the village itself. There’s a swimming pool, indoor ice rink and, for partygoers, great bars and a range of restaurants. Meribel will be host to the 2015 World Cup Ski Finals.”

Seven nights half-board from £690 per person, based on two sharing a room at the Chalet Hotel Tarentaise, including flights and transfers, markwarner.co.uk

La Grave

“This is a bucket-list resort for adventure junkies, serious back-country skiers and boarders,” says Matt. “Take the rickety cable car up to the very ‘trad’ mountain top village to access amazing terrain. There are scenic and more accessible bits too included on Les Deux Alps. Skiers Lodge is a no-frills, full-board chalet in town run by a Swedish ski guide called Pelle. He took me through a valley to a village called St Christophe where it was so peaceful you could practically hear someone drop their glove.”

skierslodge.com

La Rosiere

“A firm family favourite, La Rosiere is linked across the Italian border with La Thuile,” says Felice. “Don’t expect buzzing nightlife or chic hotels, but I thought the skiing was unexpectedly good. Family specialist Esprit has a big presence here, along with Ski Collection with its comfortable apartments in Le Lodge Hemera. The outlying hamlet of Les Eucherts makes an ideal base for families with small children.”

One-bed self-catering apartments sleeping two to four people cost from £1,121 per week including Eurotunnel crossings, peakretreats.co.uk

Bonneval

“Bonneval-sur-Arc can’t have changed much in 150 years,” says Matt. “Rough, grey stone houses huddled together at the end of a valley; cows mooing in sheds. There are only 21 runs here: mellow pistes with lovely stashes of powder, which is good for a mixed ability group. My wife skied the groomed pistes and I popped out back and we met at the end of each run. Don’t miss the boeuf bourguignon at Auberge d’Oul – a restaurant that’s like eating in someone’s chalet.”

auberge-oul.com

Val Thorens

“Contender for the best eating out in a French ski resort, including one of my alpine favourites, Chalet de la Marine,” says Felice. “It’s everything a mountain eatery should be, with a log fire, ancient wooden beams, sheepskin rugs and delicious local food. Unusual hotels have been springing up everywhere in recent years, including the futuristic Altapura and this winter, Koh-i-Nor – Europe’s highest ski hotel – opens its doors.”

Seven nights from £504 per person based on four sharing a two-room cabin at Koh-i-Nor, including return flights, ski-i.com

Les Arcs

“For maximum ski time with minimum fuss, pick ski-in, skiout Arcs 1950, where the slopes actually run through the village,” says Daniel. “Step outside your door, clip in and within moments you’ll be exploring the vast and varied 425km Paradiski area.”

Self-catered apartments cost from £258 per person, based on four or five sharing, www.pierreetvacances.co.uk

Courchevel

“Part of the largest ski area in the world, the 3-Valleys, Courchevel has an incredible variety of skiing, with hugely accessible off-piste and beautifully groomed runs,” says Emma. “Off the slopes, it’s one of the world’s glitziest resorts, with shops more commonly found in Manhattan. If it’s nightlife you’re after, Courchevel offers everything from chic wine bars to all types of nightclubs.”

Seven nights from £765 per person, based on two sharing a room at the Chalet Hotel Dahu, including flights, half-board accommodation and transfers, markwarner.co.uk

Val d’Isère

“The resort has a loyal following among its many visitors,” says Felice. “A lot of them wouldn’t dream of skiing anywhere else! Val shares its ski area with neighbouring Tignes and together they make up the 300km Espace Killy. None of this comes cheap, but you’ll find some superb chalets and an excellent ski school, New Generation. Chalet Angelique is more English country house than chalet.”

A week at Chalet Angelique (sleeps 12) costs from £619 per person, including half-board accommodation, transfers and flights, leski.com

St Foy

“St Foy’s ski area might be smaller than its more famous neighbours, but who cares?” says Daniel. “The runs are quiet, so you can really put your foot down – and the off-piste is immense. This place proves that quality trumps quantity.” Luxury, catered chalets, starting from £745 per person, for seven nights,

premiere-neige.com

Chamonix

You can’t ignore Chamonix, in spite of its position surrounded by stark and menacing mountains,” says Felice. “It’s a real town, with a 365-day life outside skiing. Apart from challenging pistes, there’s also a wide choice of accommodation, including the new Héliopic Sweet & Spa. It looks like a chalet from the outside, with a mixture of Fifties and Sixties styles inside.”

From £490 per person, per week, including self-catering accommodation and flights from London Gatwick, inghams.co.uk

La Tania

“Linking into the 3-Valleys, La Tania is a great place to stay if you are looking for a budget holiday,” says Emma. “A perfect family resort with the nursery area set within the town and easy access to more demanding slopes in Courchevel. The village itself offers a few bars, cafes and restaurants, but is better known for its chalet accommodation and warm and cosy atmosphere.”

One week from £579 per person, staying in a catered chalet including flights, silverski.co.uk

Le Grand Bornand

“One of the Alps’ most authentic villages and relatively unknown by the Brits, a holiday here feels like you’ve really escaped to France,” says Daniel. “There’s a village market packed with regional specialities, and the ski area – shared with La Clusaz – is a delight.”

Four-star luxury apartments at Le Village de Lessy cost from £265 per person for seven nights, self-catering, including return Eurotunnel crossing, peakretreats.co.uk

La Clusaz

“One of the best things about La Clusaz is the proximity of Geneva airport – it’s just 60 minutes’ drive – making it convenient for a weekend break and great for families,” says Felice. “The traditional village has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, and you can also ski in the resort of Le Grand Bornand, 10 minutes away. Stay in La Residence apartments right opposite the slopes.”

A week at La Residence costs from £399 accommodation only, for a studio apartment sleeping two to four, ernalow.co.uk

Les Gets

“Within the vast Portes du Soleil, Les Gets is a great resort to choose because of its access to Mont Chery – a mountain that remains blissfully quiet due to its position away from the main circuit,” says Daniel. “Have lunch at the wonderful Ours Blanc, or head up in the evening for one of its special candlelit dinners.”

Catered chalets with inclusive childcare cost from £675 per adult and £625 per child, including a choice of airport transfers or channel crossings, skifamille.co.uk

Tignes

“At an altitude of 2100m to 3500m, Tignes is unbeatable for snow quality and guaranteed snow,” says Emma. “It has a huge season spanning nine months and offers incredible off-piste skiing, great parks and 300km of fabulous slopes. If sport is what you’re after, Tignes is the place, with ice diving, ice climbing, an awesome swimming pool and a brand new, high-altitude training centre on offer.”

Seven nights half-board at Chalet Hotel Hauts de Toviere, transfers, evening childcare and flights cost from £418 per person, markwarner.co.uk

Montgenevre

“I’ve always thought of Montgenevre as a wonderful place for families to learn to ski, because there’s a large beginner area that sweeps gently down to the heart of the village, and plenty of blues and reds to progress to,” says Daniel.

Part and full-week packages cost from £415 per person including accommodation, transfer, six-day lift pass and ski/boot hire, go-montgenevre.com

Chatel

“This is a gateway into one of the biggest ski areas in the world, the Portes du Soleil,” says Emma. “Fourteen villages link together spanning France and Switzerland. The runs twist, turn and are full of adventure, meandering naturally in and out and over the mountain tops. Every run is unique. The resorts are lower so there’s masses of tree skiing but you can still get height over towards Avoriaz and you need never ski the same run twice.”

From £570 per person for seven nights staying at luxury five-bedroom catered chalet Les Trois Canards, including four-course evening meals, absolutealps.com

Valmeinier

“A really good family destination. The terrain is mostly above 2000m, so fairly snow-sure,” says Daniel. “And one of the unique things about it is that beginners can ski all the way from the top of the mountain back to the village on green runs. That certainly isn’t available in most resorts.”

A studio apartment for up to four people costs from £547 for the whole apartment, including a return Eurotunnel crossing with free upgrade to Flexiplus, ernalow.co.uk

 

Italy:

Alagna

“A beautiful town with incredible old Germanic buildings and meandering streets,” says Matt. “The mountains seem to funnel down around the village, huddled in a valley. The ski area is part of the Monte Rosa, with access to 115 miles of piste. It’s one of the few places in Europe you can heli-ski, and the back-country here is amazing. If you want miles of off-piste, this is the place.”

Apartments from £245 per person, per week including private return transfers from Milan Malpensa airport, echotravel.co.uk

Cervinia

“It’s the less attractive neighbour of Zermatt in Switzerland, but you get to ski the same area and eat in restaurants that are every bit as delightful as those over the border, but at considerably lower prices,” says Felice. “As a child, I learnt to ski on the nursery slopes conveniently close to the high street, with the resort’s high altitude making it a good Easter destination. Hotel Sertorelli is just five minutes’ walk from the cable car.”

Seven nights at half-board at Hotel Sertorelli cost from £716 per person, based on two sharing, self-drive with Dover-Calais ferry crossings, sno.co.uk

Sauze d’Oulx

“You’ll quickly fall in love with the mountain restaurants in Sauze that you’ll discover between runs, such as Ciao Paix, tucked away in the forest,” says Daniel. “The skiing is great, too, and outside Italian holidays, the slopes are so quiet you’ll feel like the lifts were opened just for you.”

Seven nights at Hotel Miosotis cost from £415 per person, based on two sharing a room, halfboard, including flights, skiline.co.uk

Gressoney

“One of my favourites,” says Emma. “An authentic, unspoilt area that lies at the foot of the Monte Rosa peak, with some incredible off-piste skiing. The 2,000m descent from the top of the Punta Indren to Alagna, is unforgettable and there aren’t many ski areas where you can be alone on the whole run – whether you go on or off-piste. Prices are very reasonable and one of the best coffees in the Alps will only set you back one euro!”

Seven nights staying at the three-star Hotel Dufour cost from £669 per person, based on two sharing, half-board including flights and transfers, inghams.co.uk

La Villa

“I’ve been banging on about the South Tyrol for years,” says Matt. “But you still won’t see many Brits here and the pistes are quiet and mellow. If you love to ski and eat, this is the place, with some 18 Michelin-starred restaurants in an area the size of north Devon, many catering to the little mountain huts, so you get the great food minus the Michelin prices.”

Seven nights from £527 per person at the four-star, catered Chalet Hotel Al Pigher, including flights from Gatwick, igluski.com

Madesimo

“This is the undiscovered resort of the year, an attractive old village with narrow streets and a scattering of farmhouses,” says Felice. “It’s popular with Italians but remains almost unknown in the UK, yet it has a lot going for it. The (mainly intermediate) slopes are blissfully uncrowded midweek, prices are very reasonable and there are some lovely places to eat. My favourite restaurant is Dogana Vegia, set inside the town’s 17th-century Customs House. Stay in the family-run Hotel Andossi.”

Packages available with momentumski.com

Cortina d’Ampezzo

“This classy yet uber-relaxed resort in the Dolomites is home to some of the Alps’ most stunning scenery,” says Daniel. “Take the Hidden Valley run and you’ll pass limestone and blue frozen waterfalls,” he suggests. “It’s an amazing experience that you can round off with a leisurely meal at the Armontarola Hotel.”

Seven nights B&B at the Hotel Ambra, including flights to Venice, cost from £2,350 based on a family of four sharing, zenithholidays.co.uk

Courmayeur

“Cappuccinos, pasta, pizza and everything Italian plus great restaurants, bars, shops, all with a touch of Italian class,” says Emma. “The top two lifts open up an off-piste paradise, where routes back down the mountain are endless. Add in the Vallee Blanche, the longest, most scenic off-piste run in the world – which has to be done at least once in your life – and you can’t go wrong.”

Seven nights from £435 per person (based on four sharing) at the three-star Apartments Checrouit, including flights and transfers, crystalski.co.uk

 

Switzerland:

Verbier

“‘Verb’ is cool for a reason – it has legendary hotels such as the Hotel de la Poste and bars that compete with the poshest addresses in London,” says Matt. “I love the miles and miles of piste – some of my best snow has been here – and I always go with a guide to get the insider tip on the places to ski all the best powder.”

Book guides, hotels and packages from specialists, skiverbier.com

Klosters

“A traditional chalet-style village that successfully blends tourism with a rural farming community,” says Felice. “The resort is divided into two: Klosters Platz has most of the hotels, shops, restaurants, and a cable-car to the Parsenn ski area, which is linked with Davos. Klosters Dorf is where the nursery slopes are located. The off-piste is surprisingly good, with a lovely run over to Arosa, and another to Gargellen in Austria.

Packages can be arranged with powderbyrne.com

Savognin

“In the same region as St Moritz and Laax, this resort is really great for families: affordable and not well-known,” says Matt. “It has mellow pistes you can cruise around with stunning views across the valley. And there’s snow biking, snow tubing and a ‘ceiling’ tobogganing run that looks right out over the valley. Plus a glass box of a hotel, called The Cube.”

Seven nights from £500 per person, accommodation only, igluski.co.uk

Zermatt

“This is without any doubt the ski resort with the most gorgeous setting in the Alps,” says Felice. “The centerpiece – the Matterhorn – is what Toblerone is modelled on, and it peeps out at you from every corner. Blackened chalets line the high street and there are some memorable (though not cheap) places to eat, such as Zum See, on the slopes. Stay in The Omnia, a glass hotel built on top of a rock. The highlight is its Cavern bar – a glass-and-steel space that floats on water inside a man-made cave.

the-omnia.com

Gryon

“This resort is next to swanky Villas – where the royals and toffs go,” says Matt. “A little traditional Swiss village minus the mink hats, it’s only got 62 miles of skiable terrain but this includes a lot of cruisey reds, where you can lay out nice big turns, and there are also blues running through the trees. It’s really worth getting a guide to ski the linked areas, such as Villas and Les Diablerets, so you can rack up some serious miles.”

Stay at Le Bostan self-catering apartments, from £295 for three nights, based on two sharing, interhome.co.uk

Grindelwald

“This is a great place to come for relaxed skiing in some of Switzerland’s most spectacular scenery,” says Daniel. “To ski below those dramatic peaks, the Eiger and Wetterhorn, is a magnificent experience.”

Seven nights cost from £639 per person, half-board including flights and transfers, inghams.co.uk

Saas-Fee

“A time-warp town, with no cars allowed and horse-drawn taxis that drag you around narrow back streets bordered by old wooden chalets,” says Matt. “The village is full of the scent of farms and wood smoke – what the Alps are supposed to be about. The pistes are mellow but the nightlife is wild. I had a cocktail at bar Popcorn, called Flaming Diablo, which is as ferocious as it sounds. It finished my day’s skiing and almost the next day’s too!”

Seven nights from £609 per person staying at the self-catering Allalin Studios and Apartments, including flights and transfers, neilson.co.uk

Leysin

“I love Leysin’s super-cute chocolate-box chalets and tiny rabbit warren of streets,” says Matt. “It’s only got 40 miles of piste so you don’t need to mess around with a lift pass or a map really – you can just concentrate on riding/skiing and enjoying yourself. It’s pretty off the beaten track and when I went, midweek, it was really empty. Don’t miss the rosti and roast chicken at the wooden chalet restaurant, Le Leysin. You can watch it cooking over the fire.”

Seven nights from £982, staying at the six-bedroom self-catering apartment, Le Caracoles, accommodation only, igluski.co.uk

 

Austria:

Obergurgl

“This really high resort is ideal for those worried about snow conditions – I’ve had some great early-season powder here,” says Matt. “It not only has beautiful views but is a great place to crank out the miles and eat good food. Go across to Hochgurgl (lift-linked), to the Top Mountain Star glass-walled café, which sits on the summit like a UFO and gives a real sense of how much terrain there is. You could wander for days and not see anyone.”

Seven nights from £614 per person half-board, staying at the Hotel Alpenaussicht, including transfers and flights, crystalski.co.uk

Kuhtai

“Just a 40-minute car journey from Innsbruck airport, the high-altitude resort of Kuhtai is a relatively unknown gem in the heart of the Austrian Tyrol,” says Emma. “Small but well formed, the terrain is suited to intermediate skiers upwards and also has some of the best ski touring in Austria. Après ski is fairly quiet by Austrian standards, but the hotels provide an excellent standard of accommodation.”

Seven nights all-inclusive at the ski-in, ski-out Chalet Hotel Elisabeth cost from £599 per person, inghams.co.uk

St Anton

“The lovely little town has fabulous skiing, both on and off-piste,” says Felice. “As popular as it is, St Anton hasn’t been overrun by the mass market and still attracts only serious skiers and snowboarders. The lively après-ski scene is spearheaded by the notorious Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh bars, although my favourite is Underground on the Piste with its live music and relaxing alpine ambience. Stay in the friendly chalethotel, Montjola.”

Seven nights half-board, staying at the Montjola, cost from £849 per person, based on two sharing, including flights and transfers, VIP SKI

Zell am See-Kaprun

“Zell’s lakeside setting and attractive village make staying here a real pleasure,” says Daniel. “There’s ample, intermediate-friendly terrain, and the views as you ski down from the 3,029m Kitzsteinhorn glacier are magnificent. This is one of Austria’s finest all-round resorts.”

Five nights over Christmas, including half-board and lift pass, cost €549 (£461) per person, steinerwirt.com

Schladming

“Schladming is part of the Schladming-Dachstein-Tauern area linking four small ski resorts that offer beautifully groomed pistes with masses of tree-lined skiing,” says Emma. “Ideal for beginners through to experts and a fabulous family resort, the town itself is really stunning, with authentic Austrian après-ski as well. Schladming also hosts both the Men’s and Women’s World Cup Ski Racing and the 2013 Ski World Championships.”

A week’s half-board in Schladming costs from £555 per person (based on two sharing) at the three-star Hotel zum Kaiserweg, including flights, transfers, crystalski.co.uk

Kitzbuhel

“This town is so beautiful it looks good enough to eat,” says Felice. “The pedestrianised centre is medieval with cobblestone streets and pastel-frescoed houses. Kitzbuhel is home to the Hahnenkamm, the toughest downhill race of the World Cup ski circuit. However, that run, (when not prepared for racing), and others within the area, are classified as easy to intermediate level. Stay at Hotel Kitzhof Mountain Design Resort.”

Seven nights from £1,138 per person, based on four sharing half-board accommodation at the Hotel Kitzhof, crystalski.co.uk

Soll

“Part of the huge SkiWelt ski area, Soll has some great non-ski alternatives, too. The 3.8km Hochsöll toboggan run, open after the slopes close, is bags of fun,” says Daniel. “You can also try parasailing, which is an incredible, adrenaline-fuelled way to see the Wilderkaiser mountain range.”

Seven nights half-board, staying at the Gansleit Hotel, cost from £624 per person, including flights, transfers and two free ski guiding days, crystalski.co.uk

Hintertux

“Situated at the end of the Zillertal valley, Hintertux is well known for being the only resort skiable 365 days of the year, with one of the biggest glaciers in Europe,” says Emma. “The village itself is small and tranquil but does offer some luxury accommodation and a true mountain atmosphere. As with all Austrian resorts, Hintertux has thigh-slapping après-ski, which kicks off from mid-afternoon.”

Seven nights half-board from £895 per person, staying at the Family Hotel Hintertuxerhof, including private transfers and childcare (2+); snow guarantee, snow-wise.com

 

And beyond:

Soldeu, Andorra

“Andorra has always been renowned for being cheap and cheerful but it’s affordable luxury if you stay at Sporthotel Hermitage,” says Matt. “It has an amazing spa with lots of different pools overlooking the slopes, and you can watch skiers on a long black run from your balcony. It’s a great place to build up your confidence in skiing if you have recently started. “I learnt to ski here as a kid and it’s a great place for ski-schoolers – it has something like 200 instructors.”

Seven nights from £405 per person, based on four sharing self-catering accommodation, including breakfast, flights and transfers, directski.com

Geilo, Norway

“One of the best family resorts in Scandinavia with five snowparks, this is a major centre for cross-country skiing, and also one of the best places in the world for kiteskiing,” says Felice. “One of my children learnt to ski here and we found the slopes were almost empty in the mornings because the Norwegians tend to start skiing late. Stay at Dr Holms Hotel, with a spa, swimming pool, American diner and bowling alley.”

Seven nights at Dr Holms Hotel cost from £995 per person, half-board, based on four sharing, including transfers and flights, crystalski.co.uk

Jasna, Slovakia

“Beers are cheap here, as is the rail transfer from Bratislava, and there is also a pretty good range of no-frills flights. Factor in an attractive, tree-covered resort with traditional village and good terrain parks, and it’s easy to see why this place is popular with young boarders and skiers alike .”

Seven nights half-board at the Grand Hotel cost from £585 per person, based on two sharing, including flights and transfers, zenithholidays.co.uk

Riksgransen, Sweden

“The Swedish capital of freeride skiing,” says Emma. “If you want heli-skiing that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, with a ‘free ride’ atmosphere where skis are almost as wide as they are long, then go to Riksgransen.”

Seven nights B&B at Hotel Riksgränsen cost £735 per person, based on two sharing, including flights and transfers, skisafari.com

Hafjell, Norway

“The location for the 1994 men’s and women’s slalom and giant slalom races, situated just outside the host city of Lillehammer, Hafjell has a decent collection of ski runs that is mainly suitable for intermediates,” says Emma. “Outside school holidays, queues are rare and there’s decent accommodation right on the slopes. Brit-run Woodies Bar provides a lively end-of-the-day party.”

Travelling to Hafjell (it is located about two hours drive from Oslo), can be arranged through new online service, flydrivenorway.co.uk, offering a variety of accommodation from cabins to four-star hotels.

Voss, Norway

“It’s not very high but because it’s so far north, there’s good snow,” says Matt. “And Voss has an amazing location – you can sit on the mountain and overlook a Fjord. This is really cruisey skiing and it’s not as expensive as you might think. Admittedly beers are pricey, but on-mountain chalets are perfectly happy for you to bring your own picnic, so you can still cut costs. I paired Voss with a trip to Bergen, a city with amazing seafood that’s just an hour away by train.”

Seven nights cost around £1,300 per person, based on two people sharing, with half-board hotel accommodation, including flights and transfers, ski-norway.co.uk

Bled, Slovenia

Bordering Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, compact little Slovenia packs in the terrain, from forest to beach and lake to mountain. You could tour its handful of ski resorts in a week, but Bled, overlooking a lake crowned with a medieval castle, is worth spending time at, with rustic inns, excellent restaurants and Villa Bled, a five-star hotel, formerly the summer retreat of Marshal Tito.

One week’s skiing, including hotel, flights and transfers, from £343 per person, thomsonski.co.uk

 

Best for... The Atmosphere

Chamonix - If you want, not simply to ski, but also to immerse yourself in the life of a French town, then this is the place to come for challenging pistes and a local vibe

Best for... Traditionalists

Klosters - A charming chalet style village linked with Davos. The resort also boasts great off-piste with lovely runs to Arosa and also to Gargellen in Austria

Best for... The après-ski

St Anton - Head off the slopes and party at the Mooserwirt or Krazy Kanguruh bars or go to Underground for live music and chilled vibes – in prime position on the piste

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