Stay The Night: Les Barmes de l'Ours

This smart hotel in Val d'Isere will satisfy guests looking for both convenience and quality

Les Barmes de l'Ours claims the honour of being Val d'Isère's first five-star hotel under France's new classification scheme. It is also a first for Madame André, an astute businesswoman from Le Lavandou who has diversified into hotels after making a fortune out of trucking.

The location, within a stone's throw of the Bellevarde and Solaise lifts, and close to the town centre, is brilliant. So, too is the welcome from the life-size mechanical polar bear posing engagingly in the doorway.

Les Barmes offers a winning combination of convenience and quality. Provided you can tackle the daunting Face, the 1992 Olympic downhill slope above the hotel, it is effortless to ski in, and ski out. And although it is a substantial building, it has a cheery chalet atmosphere.

The bedrooms

On the third floor, the game plan is classic Alpine chalet, interpreted in my handsome suite as two spacious rooms with a large balcony overlooking the mountain. The walls mix wood with textured paint; the floor is expensively carpeted, and striped covers on sofas and a huge double bed stand out boldly. The pictures might appeal equally to courtesans and honeymooners: derelict outbuildings in the snow in the sitting room, a naked woman arched tantalisingly over a fallen tree trunk in the bedroom. The bathroom is impressive and immaculate, with a double Jacuzzi tub, a separate shower and a heated slate floor.

Les Barmes's 56 rooms and suites are divided into four categories, one per floor, with corridors to match. Scandinavian chic – pale wood and minimalist decor – rules on the first floor, and North American lodge, clubby and substantial with check fabric and leather, on the second. The mountain lofts under the roof are the most luxurious, with cockle-shaped baths and wood fires. La Suite de l'Ours is the top of the range, with its own sauna and steam room.

The food and drink

La Table de l'Ours, one of two restaurants with a Michelin star in the resort, is coolly elegant with a big fireplace, many layered tablecloths and beeswax candles. In line with its rustic gourmet theme, some dishes are accompanied by a rural aroma created at the table by blasting dry ice into a glass filled with hay-scented water. Anthony Maubert, whose credentials include time spent at Airelles in Courchevel, rules the kitchen. His €85 (£74) menu – amuses bouches, choices of starter, main and dessert – changes every Tuesday. A la carte specialities include tartiflette with truffled pork and magret de canard with polenta.

Le Pas de l'Ours is a magnificent buffet, with oysters, prawns, lobster, jamon iberico, plump asparagus and other delicacies, plus a sumptuous cheese board and mouthwatering desserts. The €75 (£65) price includes unlimited access to hot meat, poultry and fish of the day in the Rôtisserie. A spread like this makes half board something of a bargain. For fondue and raclette, head along the road to Le Coin Savoyard.

The Sofa Bar serves afternoon tea when the lifts close and free canapés from 7pm. Don't miss Le Vitamine jazz band on Tuesdays, and Huw Lewis, a singer, pianist and guitarist, on Wednesdays throughout the season.

The extras

The Comfort Zonal spa, with a heated pool, hot tub, hammam, sauna and extensive lounging areas, takes up much of the lower ground floor. Massage, hairdressing, and beauty treatments are also available. Teenagers may prefer the games room with a pool table and a PlayStation. The on-site Killy pro-shop has this year's rental skis and a boutique selling high-end clothes.

The access

There are three rooms with wheelchair access and baths with lifts. Wi-Fi is free throughout; rooms included. There is car parking in front of the hotel, but it must be reserved in advance.

The bill

Standard double from €430 (£375) per room for half board, based on two sharing.

The address

Les Barmes de l'Ours, Chemin des Carats, 73150 Val d'Isère (00 33 4 79 41 37 00;

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor