Skiing was once an exclusive sport which only the super rich could afford. Today, a varied mix of travel options to suit all budgets is available. Skiing is a truly a sport for all. But, some resorts, especially in the European Alps, remain exclusive, luxurious and expensive. Cheap ski holidays here are tricky to organise, but glamour, opulence and gourmet food are abundant and ubiquitous.
Here are the top 10 ski resorts in Europe which excel in combining luxury and alpine charm together with top class Snowsports:
Verbier, Switzerland. Best for advanced skiers, nightlife and being cool.
Famed for its tough ski runs and trendy après ski, Verbier also has some of the most luxurious chalets in The Alps and attracts celebrities and royalty from all over Europe. The ambience is one of charm and sophistication that also attracts some of the world’s best skiers.
Zermatt, Switzerland. Best for scenery, high altitude skiing and gourmet food.
Tucked away at the end of a valley accessible only by train (unless you have a residents permit and you can drive most of the way) Zermatt is arguably the most iconic ski resort in the world. The scenery is dominated by the Matterhorn which is a stark reminder of the towns mountaineering history. Today, countless luxury hotels and chalets blend naturally in with the charming and traditional town. The skiing is also pretty good too!
St Moritz, Switzerland. Best for ultimate luxury, opulent hotels and Italian fashion.
If you are asked what the most exclusive ski resort in the world is, most people would say St Moritz. Glamorous, chic and naturally expensive, St Moritz is understandably exclusive and preserved as a haven for the rich and famous. The skiing is varied and extensive with an excellent snow record, and because many visitors enjoy relaxing in the sunshine, the slopes are often nice and quiet.
Megève, France. Best for families, intimate luxury and relaxed glamour.
Once dubbed the Paris of The Alps, Megève retains its name for luxury, good food and good skiing. Situated in the Northern French Alps, close to Mt Blanc, the scenery is fantastic and the skiing varied and suitable for all abilities. There are many accommodation options including many privately owned chalets which provide a more upmarket approach than is found in many other resorts.
Courchevel 1850, France. Best for footballers, other celebrities and perfect pistes.
Situated in the 3 Valleys ski domain, which links to the resorts of Meribel and Val Thorens, Courchevel offers an array of 5 star luxury hotels and chalets alongside the largest interconnected ski area in the world. This really is a place to splash the cash, there are four Michelin restaurants with 2 stars and three with 1 star….in a ski resort!
Val d’Isère, France. Best for varied skiing possibilities, nightlife and new money.
A young and vibrant resort which offers serious skiing and sophisticated accommodation. Val d’Isère has developed as a luxury destination that attracts the well heeled who take their skiing seriously. The nightlife is no slouch either with an abundance of bars and clubs that keep going into the very small hours.
Lech, Austria. Best for relaxed charm, expert service and good snow conditions.
Lech and Zurs are situated in the Arlberg region of Austria and although close to the famous resort of St Anton, you won’t find the powder hounds and party animals hanging out here. Instead you get quieter slopes, gourmet mountain restaurants, spa hotels and upmarket pensions.
St Christoph, Austria. Best for quietness, access to St Anton and Austrian charm.
Another Arlberg resort that links into the St Anton ski area. St Christoph is a tiny hamlet sitting high up in a treeless valley with a handful of hotels offering high quality accommodation. It’s a perfect destination for combining relaxed luxury with off piste skiing opportunities.
Kitzbühel, Austria. Best for partying, watching ski races and ambience.
Possibly, one of the worlds most well known ski destinations. Kitzbühel is the home of the Hahnenkamm Mountain which hosts the toughest downhill race on the world cup circuit. It also has some great hotels and restaurants if skiing 100mph down a steep and icy slope isn’t for you.
Cortina, Italy. Best for scenery, shopping and eating great Italian food.
Nestled high up in the beautiful dolomite mountains, Cortina is renowned as Italy’s most upmarket and fashionable ski resort. The skiing area is large enough to keep the most active happy and the restaurants on and off the mountain are good enough to keep the less active occupied for weeks.
Robert Stewart is a Ski Journalist at The Skiing Department.