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Hotel Barrière Les Neiges review: Peak luxury in the French Alps

This five-star mountainside retreat in twinkling Courchevel 1850 sets the bar high for chalet-style chic

Courchevel 1850 is one of the most glamorous ski resorts in the world – and Hotel Barrière Les Neiges doesn’t let the side down. The 42-room chalet-style hotel not only has enviable ski-in, ski-out access, it’s also beautifully executed, exuding Alpine warmth and authenticity. With its attentive service, first-rate spa and fabulously indulgent food (you must try the tiramisu), here’s why the hotel brings serious style to the slopes.

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Courchevel: a winter wonderland 

Until you see Courchevel 1850 for yourself, it’s hard to get a measure of how pretty it is in the snow. Admittedly I visited just before Christmas, but I suspect that the famous French ski resort twinkles all season long, its slopes glistening in the sunshine and the designer store-lined streets adorned with fairylights. 

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This is undoubtedly one of the most glitzy mountain destinations in the world, home to a tiny altiport for the private jets and where Celine and Dior snow-wear is de rigueur. That’s not to detract from the skiing. The slopes are as impeccably groomed as the skiers (even the gondolas are Gucci branded) and cater to every ability, with direct access to Les Trois Vallées and 600km of the best ski runs in Europe. 

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A luxury Courchevel 1850 hotel 

In a ski resort that is home to multiple five-star hotels and over 200 chalets – more than anywhere else in the world – you need to go that extra mile. Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges, which is nestled at the foot of the Bellecôte piste, aims to do just that. From the moment my car door is opened by an immaculately clad (and may I say charming) valet on arrival, we’re in ‘quiet luxury’ territory.

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Nothing is over-the-top; the service is on the perfect side of attentive, interiors are no-expense-spared but in a cocooning, cosy way (mellow woods and faux fur here, plush velvets, sumptuous cashmere and thick wool carpets there), and the atmosphere is easygoing. The whole place radiates Alpine warmth and authenticity, but with the highest level of comfort. Plus, of course, it offers ski-in, ski-out access.

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The hotel rooms at Hotel Barrière Les Neiges

The 42 rooms and suites are spread across the seven floors (there are lifts of course, but I love the spiral staircase which twists around a central light sculpture). My room has views towards the mountains from one window and the Bellecôte run from another. As I open my curtains in the morning (they’re controlled from an iPad, of course), I see keen, rosy-cheeked skiers whizzing past, making fresh tracks in the snow.

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The room is spacious, with a huge bed and marble-clad en suite where, every night, I gratefully sink into an Hermès fragranced bubble bath. But it’s the details that make this place so special. The jar of freshly-baked cookies for a post-ski sugar hit; the lip balm and hand cream by the bed to combat mountain air-dried skin; the monogrammed sheets; the Dyson hairdryer; the heated loo seat which lights up every time I walk into the bathroom.

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Discover the French Alps

Chances are, you’re here to ski. The skiing in and around Courchevel is world-famous, whether you’re advanced and whizzing down the Grand Couloir or you’re testing out the magic carpets in the beginner’s area. Whatever your level of expertise, the Bernard Orcel ski room at Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges has you covered. 

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Aside from selling designer ski suits (I was rather taken by a snazzy Fendi houndstooth all-in-one), the team is super-helpful and knowledgeable, kitting me out in boots, skis and helmet in no time. They’ll even warm your boots and lay your skis out on the slope ready for you each morning. They can also pair you with an instructor should you want one; mine, Alban, couldn’t have been kinder – or more patient.

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The Spa Diane Barrière 

With skiing surely comes spa-ing. The Spa Diane Barrière has seven treatment rooms where guests can ease their aching muscles with a bespoke Biologique Recherche treatment. Though the custom facials are said to be amazing, I have a Balinese deep-tissue massage, my therapist expertly and efficiently working on my back and shoulders.

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There’s a pool, sauna, hammam, gym and – the best bit – an outside Jacuzzi, its warm waters bubbling away in the fresh snow. And now, new this season, you can swoosh down the slopes with swishy hair. The hotel has collaborated with Balmain Hair Couture, an offshoot of the Paris fashion house, to open a salon that offers guests a range of services and products from the brand. 

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The restaurants at Hotel Barrière Les Neiges

There are two restaurants at Hotel Barrière Les Neiges, overseen by Executive Chef Frédéric Aumeunier. Buzzy all-day Foquet’s is fashioned on the famous Parisian brasserie, serving up all the French classics, such as soupe à l’oignon, escargots and filet de boeuf, as well as plenty for the caviar-lobster-truffle crowd. Breakfast is served here, too, and is suitably hearty. The adjacent BFire, a concept by Michelin-starred Italo-Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco, has a wood-fired menu, the likes of braised sole and shoulder of lamb cooked over the embers.

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No hotel review of Barrière Les Neiges would be complete without mentioning the bar. With its crimson red velvet seating and seductive lighting, the walls adorned with black-and-white Studio Harcourt portraits of French cinema greats, it’s definitely cocktail territory. Eating out? I loved (and highly recommend) the mountainside La Cave des Creux, where the Savoie wine flows and lunch-hungry skiers tuck into fondue and huge platters of charcuterie with Mont Blanc as their backdrop. 

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Non-skier activities in Courchevel 1850

If hurtling full pelt downhill isn’t your thing, there’s plenty for the non-skiers at Courchevel 1850. One day, as dusk fell, we hired snowmobiles from Skivo. With the lifts closed and everyone back at their chalet or hotel, it’s wonderfully quiet as we glide through the forest, our headlights picking out tall pine trees silhouetted against the dark sky, their branches heavy with snow.

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Another afternoon, we strolled around the village, marveling at the designer stores as we went. Burberry, Valentino, Chopard, Prada, Louis Vuitton… There’s even a Jacquemus pop-up this season with silver branded snowboards and skis propped up outside. Courchevel 1850 definitely takes luxury to a whole new level, and – with its traditional wooden chalets, cosy bars and bright sunshine – it’s utterly charmant too. 

A Superior room at Hotel Barrière Les Neiges starts from €1,650 per night
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