Winter has arrived in the mountains of Europe. In fact, it has been a record-breaking start to the season for Switzerland, where some resorts are opening up to three weeks earlier than planned. Verbier, Saas Fee, Andermatt, and Zermatt all have pistes open at the weekends. Zermatt is expecting more than 55cm of new snow by next Friday, with the majority expected to fall this weekend.
The Glacier up on Les Diablerets in the Gstaad Mountain Rides area was open last Thursday, with four lifts turning; 5cm of fresh snow was reported on Wednesday.
Saas Fee has been closed at times recently due to heavy snowfall, so as soon as the slopes are ready it'll make for fantastic skiing. The latest report was approximately 45cm on Thursday.
Andermatt, Crans Montana, Davos, Klosters, Engelberg, Flims/Laax , Grimentz and Zinal are all scheduled to open imminently, providing that snow conditions are suitable.
European ski hotels
European ski hotels
1/6 Le Mélézin, France
Le Mélézin, France
A stay at this atmospheric hotel gives you access to the world's largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées on the French-Swiss border. Situated on the Bellecôte ski slope – a short stroll from Courchevel 1850 – Le Mélézin's interiors feature a mix of bronze sculptures and 200-year-old oak beams framing the communal spaces. A light, modern take on French cuisine is the order of the day at The Dining Room restaurant, while a spa, sun deck, hammam and pool are ideal for après ski relaxation.
Le Mélézin, Courchevel 1850, France (00 33 4 7908 0133; amanresorts.com/lemele zin). Doubles start at €880, room only.
2/6 Nira Montana, Italy
Nira Montana, Italy
This sister hotel to the Nira Alpina in Silvaplana, Switzerland, opens in the Aosta valley on 5 December. Set in the former mining town of La Thuile – a popular resort with families – it offers access to 160km of high altitude runs in Italy and France. Inside, you'll find warm rooms with a sylvan theme – forest wallpaper, tree trunk tables and polished wooden floors. High quality, informal Italian dining is offered in the Stars Restaurant, while the spa offers an indoor pool, sauna, steam room and treatments.
Localita Arly 87, La Thuile, Italy (niramontana.com). Double rooms start at €275, half board.
3/6 DV Chalet, Italy
DV Chalet, Italy
Although labelled a chalet, this stylish ski lodge is in fact a small hotel with just 20 rooms, each individually designed and adorned with classic furniture by Eames, Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto. The restaurant serves dishes made with organic Italian produce, while the slick spa features thalassotherapy treatments and Turkish baths. And DV Chalet is just 300m from Madonna di Campiglio's Spinale ski lifts, with a shuttle bus to transport guests into the Dolomites.
Via Castelletto Inferiore 10, Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino, Italy (00 39 0465 443191; dvchalet.it). Double rooms start at €210, including breakfast.
4/6 Das Central, Austria
Das Central, Austria
This five-star retreat is situated in the Tyrolean village of Sölden, home to 144km of pistes and traditional slopeside restaurants. Like the mountains surrrounding the hotel, everything is on a grand scale here, with 30,000 bottles of wine in the cellar and a three-storey spa equipped with 10 saunas and 16 treatment rooms. Bedrooms offer spectacular views from their balconies. Extras such as ski safaris, Nordic walking, snowshoeing and a ski shuttle to nearby lifts are all included in the room rates.
Auweg 3, Sölden, Austria (00 43 5254 22600; central-soelden.at). Doubles start at €192, half board.
5/6 Hotel Firefly, Switzerland
Hotel Firefly, Switzerland
This luxurious hotel at the base of the Matterhorn is all-suite, with some of the 16 rooms accommodating up to 10 people. With ski-in, ski-out access it's easy to get on to the 200km of pistes around Zermatt (20km of which are operational in summer). The Firefly's Bar 55 is ideal for an après-ski drink, but if you prefer a more supine form of relaxation there is a spa, complete with relaxation room looking out on to the mountain scenery.
Schluhmattstrasse 55, Zermatt, Switzerland (00 41 27 967 76 76; firefly-zermatt.ch). Doubles start at Sfr595 (£390), including breakfast.
6/6 For Friends Hotel, Austria
For Friends Hotel, Austria
Poised on the edge of the Inn Valley, For Friends Hotel is open for its first ski season, having launched this summer. The hotel's design aims to blend into the surroundings with timber cladding, glass walls that give way to panoramic views over the Tyrol region and a sauna carved into the rock face. Accommodation ranges from standard rooms to "lofts" and suites; for the biggest and best in the house, check into the Rooftop Suite, which has two bedrooms, a private sauna and garden terrace. The hotel may not be right next to the slopes, but the surrounding area has 37km of ski pistes and around 30 cable cars and lifts, some of which can be easily accessed by shuttle.
Am Wiesenhang 1, Mösern, Tyrol, Austria (00 43 5212 20300; for-friends-hotel.at). Doubles start at €170, including breakfast.
In Austria, Obergurgl opened on Thursday with 13 lifts operating. It was quite overcast in the resort and visibility was OK. The Stubai Glacier has reopened and there is great skiing available in other Austrian destinations such as the Hintertux, Kaprun, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Solden.
Tignes, in France, received further fresh snowfall this week and more is expected over this weekend.
Italy's glacier destinations of Cervinia, Passo Tonale, and Val Senales are the only Italian resorts currently open for skiing or boarding. The conditions on the higher slopes are very good, and the riding has been further enhanced by this week's fresh snowfall with 20-40cm reported. And more is forecast in Europe over the next week. Zermatt and Saas Fee should receive the greatest amount, with more than 50cm expected. Cervinia should receive a good amount of snow too. The majority of snow in the Alps should fall by tomorrow.
For the very latest snow conditions visit skiclub.co.uk (Twitter: @TheSkiClub)
The Ski Club of Great Britain helps members get the most out of their snowsports with hundreds of discounts on travel, kit and holidays; access to industry-leading snow reports; info and advice on all things wintersport related, and exclusive access to the Ski Club Leader and Ambassador service. Membership costs £63 for an individual, £94 for families, and £24 for beginner members and members aged under 24.Reuse content