5 Great European Ski Chalets
Published: December 2012
By Meghan McEwan
From France to Switzerland, these great European ski chalets pair contemporary design with traditional winter charms.
The Omnia, Zermatt, Switzerland
Sitting above one of Europe’s most celebrated ski villages, the Omnia forms an angular wood-and-glass apex that echoes the Matterhorn just beyond. A Modernist take on mountainside log cabins, the hotel is the vision of New York–based architect Ali Tayar, who also designed the interiors and much of the modular furniture. To add a dash of MoMA-approved flair, Tayar tossed in pieces from iconic masters (Mies van der Rohe; Saarinen), which complement the cool, egg-shaped fireplaces in many of the rooms. Après-ski, enjoy cocktails on a sheepskin-covered chair at the outdoor terrace lounge. Auf dem Fels; 41-27/966-7171; the-omnia.com; doubles from $400.
Don’t Miss: Take a guided four-hour hike up to the solar-paneled Monte Rosa hut—a futuristic, crystal-shaped base camp for mountaineers.
Hôtel Ormelune, Val d’Isère, France
An old-school sporting institution at the foot of the legendary Val d’Isère resort, in southeastern France—adjacent to the famed Les Trois Vallées—the Hôtel Ormelune got a Pop makeover in 2009. Thanks to additions from French designer Alain Perrier, guests are now greeted by fabric-clad faux animal busts in the lobby. Check in at a reservation desk made from vintage suitcases, then mingle under feather chandeliers in the rainbow-colored bar. Playful touches aside, the Ormelune is serious about Alpine sports, offering heli-skiing and private lessons—along with the requisite deep-tissue massages. Rue Noël Machet; 33-4/79-06-12-93; ormelune.com; doubles from $258.
Don’t Miss: Have dinner at L’Étable d’Alain (33-6/08-99-13-20; dinner for two $130), a nearby farm-to-table restaurant where you can watch cows graze as you dine on raclette, the regional specialty.
Das Kranzbach, Krün, Germany
This high-style spa and nature retreat in the Bavarian Alps—with interiors by British design guru Ilse Crawford—is a 10-minute drive from the slopes at Alpenwelt Karwendel, known for the many winter athletes who call it home. The restored 1913 Arts and Crafts country house merges vintage and contemporary styles: tufted chesterfield sofas sit alongside George Nelson bubble lamps, while painted Windsor chairs play off custom wallpaper by Timorous Beasties. Guests can take lessons at the local ski school, run by 1973 Alpine Ski World Cup champion Max Rieger. 1 Elmauer Weg; 49-88/2392-8000; daskranzbach.de; doubles from $405, including breakfast and dinner.
Don’t Miss: Ride the cog railway—a 1920’s remnant— from nearby Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the Zugspitze peak, Germany’s highest point. On a clear day, you can see over the Alps to Lake Eib.
Taxhof, Bruck, Austria
Set on a pristine mountaintop smack in the middle of the Austrian Alps, this centuries-old inn is a gloriously quiet respite 15 minutes away from the busy resorts of Kitzsteinhorn and Schmittenhöhe—known for their daring glacier ski trails. Handed down from father to son for 12 generations, the Taxhof blends the best of both worlds, combining the fairy-tale charm of a rustic chalet with modern amenities. We love the Dochbodnsuite—located in the renovated top floor of an ancient farmhouse, it features an en suite sauna, atrium-like windows and skylights for panoramic views, and a cozy rooftop terrace. 15 Hundsdorf; 43/6545-6261; taxhof.at; doubles from $135.
Don’t Miss: Go tobogganing in the moonlight at Kohlschnait, where you’ll also find an artisan brewery and bakery.
Le Lodge Park, Megève, France
Owned by husband-and-wife team Jocelyne and Jean-Louis Sibuet, Le Lodge Park is a mere five-minute walk from the center of the action at Megève, France’s hippest ski resort. Jocelyne gave the chalet its glamorous, trapper-style aesthetic, sourcing furnishings such as antler chandeliers and chairs crafted out of tree branches from around the world to create the country-chic rooms. After a day on the slopes, check in to the whimsically designed spa, an enchanted-forest fantasy of birches, moss-covered bark, and sheepskin rugs. 100 Rue d’Arly; 33-4/50-90-63-20; lodgepark.com; doubles from $350.
Don’t Miss: Hail a horse-drawn carriage for a ride through the cobblestoned streets of Megève’s village square, which is illuminated by a Swarovski Christmas tree during the holidays.