As one of the most premium ski destinations in the French Alps, Val D’Isere is far from lacking in five star hotels and excellent restaurants, but when Airelles Val D’Isere opened its doors in December 2021, it really upped the ante.
The sixth and most recent addition to the Airelles luxury hotel chain (which also has properties in Courchevel, Meribel, St Tropez and Versailles), the large, super central property is a brilliant addition to the resorts fine dining options and its stylish social scene.
Val D’Isere might be a very English resort (in peak season you’re hard pressed to hear any French spoken), but this hotel oozes the Parisian polish of its parent company, which was founded by media tycoon Stéphane Courbit, the 114th richest man in France.
Where is it?
The vast wooden chalet-style hotel has an A1 location at the Front de Neiges (the resort’s main square), where all the pistes converge at the base of the Solaise and Olympique gondolas. The latter lift takes you over to neighbouring Tignes, the other (more low-key) half of the ‘Espace Killy’ ski region which has a combined 300km of pistes, vast areas of off piste and skiing as high as 3,000m altitude. The slopes cater well to both experts and beginners, with as many challenging slopes as there are wide, gentle blue runs. Warning: attempt the famous black run La Face after a few vin chauds in the Folie Douce at your peril.
The hotel is the only 5* ski-in-ski-out hotel in the resort, and its sun-soaked south-facing restaurant terrace looks out over the nursery slopes and the children’s ski area. It’s a popular spot for people to end up with a drink at the end of the day; a place to be seen and to watch other skiers complete their last run home. The hotel’s main entrance is situated on the other side of the building in the middle of the village, a few minutes walk (largely flat) to the restaurants, shops and bars and the pretty church.
Originally built in the 19th century, the interiors of the sprawling wooden chalet were designed by architect Christophe Tollemer and cleverly balance rustic alpine charm with ultra modern comfort. Plush red velvet sofas, large roaring fires, exposed wooden beams and traditional mahogany furniture sit alongside high tech lighting and under floor heating. A collection of rare objects curated by art historian Emmanuelle Vidal-Delagneau is also dotted about the space.
There are 41 rooms, including nine suites and five sublime private penthouses across the top floor, each of which comes with its own dedicated butler. Prices for the four-bedroom apartment, which has a renaissance-style drawing room and a private chef, start at £10,000 a night.
The rooms and suites with views over the slopes are magical. Being able to stand on your balcony and watch the early bird skiers as you drink your morning coffee is worth the extra spend – some even have balcony hot tubs.
All the rooms come with hardwood doors and floors, limestone walls and mahogany furniture. There’s plenty of good storage space, quality bed linen and complimentary tea, coffee and homemade biscuits in the room. The bathrooms all have his and hers sinks and come with Guerlain products and a ski kit containing a mini sun cream and lip balm; the suites have hammam-style steam showers and freestanding bathtubs.
Food & Drink
The hotel this year opened Loulou Val D’Isere, the first alpine outpost of the Parisian institution… And it’s as glossy and gourmet as its Paris and St Tropez counterparts.
The interiors feel cosy and indulgent, with red velvet armchairs, white tablecloths and candles, Ralph Lauren plaid upholstery and woody foliage covering the ceiling – an Instagrammers paradise in short. Outside, the vast 800m2 terrace is the perfect spot for a sunny lunch, with live DJs blasting music and staff serving many a magnum of rose to tables of glamorous guests swathed in Bruno Cucinelli and Moncler (both of which have a boutique inside the hotel). There are also rows of recliner chairs facing out onto the piste (and into the evening sun), the perfect spot for a hot chocolate or spritz at the end of a day on the slopes.
The Italian menu features excellent salads, pastas and carpaccios alongside the signature black truffle pizza and a beautiful burrata and datterini tomatoes starter. It’s not cheap though – both the pizza and the burrata starter each cost 50 euros. The dessert buffet is ridiculous in its abundance and quite irresistible.
The same table that’s piled with every pudding imaginable by night is laden, come breakfast time, with every cheese, pastry, muesli and fruit dish you could imagine, with perfect eggs et al available a la carte.
Anyone in the market for some traditional Savoyard fare should make the short walk to next door restaurant La Grande Ourse, founded in 1936 and now owned by the hotel, which majors in alpine classics like raclette, fondue, charcuterie and tartiflette – all executed to absolute perfection. The sunny outdoor terrace has big round booth tables that are great for group lunch mid-ski, while the traditional interior, all wood panels and vintage photographs, is lovely for a cosy, candlelit evening.
The serene Roman-themed subterranean Guerlain spa is the largest in the resort, boasting a 20-metre indoor pool with plenty of comfortable loungers, a super stylish hammam, sauna and jacuzzi. Children go crazy for the (cleverly distanced) kids’ grotto pool, while those looking to while away the hours between skiing and dinner are well catered to with the poolside juice bar, which offers complimentary teas, papers and healthy snacks.
The Guerlain treatments are of a high standard. The deep tissue massage was the perfect way to ease muscle tension after a hard day on the slopes. For those that really need some post skiing realignment, the hotel has its own osteopath Tom Pichaud, who specialises in personalised osteopathic podiatry treatments as well as issues regarding headaches, pregnancy and women’s health. The hotel also has a luxury hair salon on the ground floor.
There’s also a gym with all the latest cardio and weight-training TechnoGym equipment including rowing machines, cross-trainers and treadmills.
Each guest stay includes an alpine experience, which can be an on or off-piste ski lesson, ice climbing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and snowmobiling. For those keen to get on the slopes, the hotel has a world class ski room equipped with all the latest kit to loan or buy. Staff are super knowledgeable, and nothing is too much trouble. The ski room even comes with an all-day buffet room of homemade cakes, snacks and hot drinks.
Children are incredibly well catered for with a vast children’s play area adjacent to the ski room, that even comes with its own private cinema that’s bookable for parties or family gatherings.
An extensive programme of supervised kids activities includes baking, arts and crafts, face painting, sledging and snowman building for younger ones, and more adrenaline-induing pursuits like Moon Biking (a new alpine craze) a high rope courses for teenagers. Additional activities are on offer during the school holidays including visiting magicians, riding on snow machines, ice skating, ice hockey and husky dog sledding.
How to get there
The resort is a two hour, 45 minute drive from Geneva airport, similar from Lyon airport and two hours twenty minutes from Annecy. The hotel can arrange private chauffeured Tesla airport transfers and transfers by helicopter or private plane to the resorts heliport.
The hotel is open from the December 9, 2022 – April 10, 2023
Rooms start at £1200 for a Premier room including Bed & Breakfast and a unique alpine experience. Visit airelles.com for more.