Nestled amongst majestic snow-capped peaks and twinkling alpine villages, these sumptuous European mountain retreats go above and beyond when it comes to glamour (and gluhwein…). Whether it’s the bracing Alpine air, the chocolate-box villages or the otherworldly beauty of a fresh blanket of crisp, white snow, there’s something particularly spectacular about a mountain getaway. From high-altitude, Michelin-starred dining and jaw-dropping mountainside spas to off-the-grid Arctic escapes, we’ve rounded up the finest European mountain retreats.
Set in the pretty resort of San Cassiano, in the Alta Badia ski region of the Dolomites, this family-run retreat is far from being quaint: think more along the lines of tyrolean tradition-meets-contemporary design. Eating is a big deal here; the hotel’s St Hubertus restaurant was awarded its third Michelin Star in the 2018 Guide – one of only nine restaurants in Italy to hold this accolade. The chef’s table, with views into Norbert Niederkofler’s kitchen, is a must. For less formal, the wood-fired pizzas in the Wine Bar & Grill have gained something of a reputation round these parts.
Service throughout is personal and authentic – on arrival you’ll likely be greeted by owner Hugo himself, who’s always happy to impart his knowledge of the mountains. This year the hotel has introduced “mindful skiing”, an opportunity to escape other snow bunnies and glide through tranquil, snow-covered valleys and forests.
Don’t be put off by the brutalist exterior of this five-star retreat. Instead, swivel your gaze to the adjoining Bond lair-esque glass structure of its Bergoase Spa (particularly impressive when illuminated at night). The hotel may have recently added to its 007 credentials by revamping its private funicular, which ferries guests to the slopes in state-of-the-art cabins, but it is the 5000-meter-squared spa which steals the show here.
Carved into the mountainside, over four levels, there’s sauna and steam, myriad treatment rooms, and a pool where you can swim directly from indoors to out. Elsewhere, designer Carlo Rampazzi has refurbished the interiors in sumptuous style (you will covet the Hermès chairs), giving the place a grand, but friendly, vibe. You’ll equally find families here as you will couples, probably in the hotel’s The Basement restaurant, which does an excellent fondue and comes with its own bowling lanes.
If you were to close your eyes and think of Heidi, this would be where she’d live – it’s the epitome of rustic comfort, though with a serious side of chic. Nestled in the mountains, the family-owned ski lodge (it belongs to uber-stylish French hotelier Arnaud Zannier) has 12 rooms and suites, set across three authentic chalets.
The interior is simple yet sophisticated, a pleasing blend of traditional oak floors, washed linen furnishings and huge fireplaces. Don’t be fooled by the pared back feel: expect all the facilities and flawless service of a first-class hotel. Unknot achy muscles in the wellness centre or unwind with a glass of something warming at La Ferme de mon Père, where chef Julien Burlat prides himself on a menu that’s an “Alpine ode to nature”.
Unlike some of its more formal neighbours (you know the types: dark wood decor, heavy curtains, oil paintings at every turn), this mountainside hotel is less old-school luxury and more low-key, five-star cool. That’s all thanks to a year-long renovation by dynamic young owners Daniel and Davia Koetser who’ve injected life and soul into what is now dubbed the “Swiss Family Soho House”.
House of Hackney wallpaper adorns the walls, while the art deco bar comes with a 17-metre long Chesterfield sofa. You’ll be able to indulge in hearty local fare and Michelin-starred menus, of course, but there’s also an onsite sushi bar. The hotel’s subterranean Le Grand Spa has everything you could wish for: pools, classes, treatments using Bamford and Cellcosmet products, a Thermal Oasis… there’s even a Salt Inhalation Grotto.
Le Grand Bellevue is from 650CHF (around £500) per room, per night based on double occupancy on a half-board basis, bellevue-gstaad.ch
For something far, far away from the crowds, Deplar Farm on the Troll Peninsula in the wild north of Iceland won’t disappoint. Getting to this off-the-grid Nordic number is an adventure in itself, either by navigating Arctic roads or by helicopter. The journey is worth it. The former sheep farm has been converted into an extraordinary, 13-room, grass-roofed retreat.
Spend days heli-skiing, snowmobiling or cat skiing – there’s whale-watching, hot spring hopping and surfing, too – before lying back in the outdoor geothermal infinity pool beneath (if you’re lucky) nature’s most spectacular light show, the Aurora Borealis. High-octane adventuring over for the day, get cosy with fireside dinners, thermal baths where aperitifs are served as you soak, saltwater flotation tanks for meditation, and restorative yoga and spa sessions.
Double rooms from 538,650ISK (around £3400) per night. This includes all meals, two guide-led adventures a day (including all the equipment you’ll need), house alcohol, and roundtrip airport transfers from Akureyri, mrandmrssmith.com