High, sunny and surrounded by scenic wooded valleys, this Swiss resort is home to one of the country’s glitziest ski hotels. Like many other buildings in Arosa, the Tschuggen Grand was built in the 1970s. Beyond its brutalist exterior, however, is a cocoon of contemporary elegance and luxury, complete with a sleek hotel spa, access to a private mountain railway and panoramic views of the Alps.
Even the most modest bedrooms come with granite bathrooms, rainforest showers and Swiss-made beds, but the suites are extravagant in the extreme: hand-painted wallpaper, designer furniture, sun loggias, two bathrooms and as many televisions.
A family-friendly resort not known for its wild après-ski, dining is a big attraction at Arosa and the resort is well served by restaurants. Many of the best, however, are tucked away within its hotels. Including the five at Tschuggen Grand. These range from Michelin-starred La Vetta to the more casual TheBasement, where a post-burger match at the on-site bowling alley is encouraged. Try the latter’s Swiss-style fish ‘n’ chips: delicate perch fillets from Lake Constance fried in a light, tempura-like batter.
By far the most exciting place to eat is Igloo Village – literally an igloo built just outside the hotel’s main entrance, with tables, chairs, red-nosed waiters and plenty of rugs. You’ll need to wear everything you own to eat there, but it’s a wonderfully surreal experience and the food is good. Start with grisons salsiz (local cured sausages) and pickled pumpkin, then dive into cheese fondue made from Alp cheese (produced in summer with milk from cows that graze on Alpine pastures), garlic, white wine, kirsch and, if desired, fresh truffle and champagne.
For lunch on the slopes, try the Alpenblick restaurant – a cosy, chalet-style pit stop with huge open grill and long, chunky wooden tables (alpenblick-arosa.ch). Choose a giant rösti with creamy mushroom ragu, or pick your meat (including a local veal sausage) and watch it cook on the spit in front of you.
The hotel spa is striking, with coloured glass sails on the roof that soak up the sunshine and bathe its four-storey space in light. Built into the mountainside, it’s lined with Alpine granite and Canadian maple, and there’s a long glass bridge connecting it to the hotel – walk across it, cosy in your robe, while snow falls outside.
Return flights from Heathrow to Zurich cost from £142 (swiss.com). Double rooms at Tschuggen Grand Hotel start from £424, b&b (tschuggen.ch).
High in the Colorado Rockies, with access to four different ski areas, Aspen promises plenty of powder and a picturesque centre. America’s fanciest ski town has long been a destination for celebrities and Aspen is now earning a reputation for seriously good food.
Check into the smart Limelight Hotel where spacious rooms and family-friendly suites offer mountain views and there’s an outdoor pool with hottubs for soothing ski-sore muscles. Free shuttles to the lifts and breakfasts of Greek yogurt, steel-cut oatmeal or veggie frittatas are other benefits.
Try Peach’s Corner Café for a decent espresso (peachscornercafe.com) or, for lunch, Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop, an under-the-radar Italian bakery selling rustic meatball sandwiches (420 E Hyman Avenue; 00 1 970 544 1806).
For a farm-to-fork dinner, book in at Meat & Cheese, run by a local artisan cheese company, for goat’s cheese and house-smoked charcuterie boards, or garlic and herb-roasted rotisserie chicken (meatandcheeseaspen.com). The Pyramid Bistro also wins a loyal following for its healthy soups, salads and curry bowls, many of them vegan-friendly (pyramidbistro.com).
More decadent dining is on offer at Element 47 (thelittlenell.com/dining/element-47). Menu highlights include wagyu beef raised at nearby Emma Farms, dry-aged duck breast and Colorado rack of lamb. Don’t miss the tableside cocktails and an impressive 22,000-bottle wine collection overseen by the approachable master sommelier Carlton McCoy.
For ultimate bragging rights, expert skiers can hike 45 minutes to the top of the Highland Bowl to enjoy steep turns and plentiful powder. Toast to conquering the Bowl at the on-piste Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro (76 Boomerang road; 00 1 970 923 8751), a cabin-style restaurant serving steaming bowls of fondue and raclette.
Beginners and families will be happier at Snowmass mountain, a 15-minute shuttle from town. Grab a wood-fired pizza at the on-mountain Elk Camp Restaurant (Vista Trail; 00 1 970 923 0450) before heading back for a local draft from Aspen Brewing Company (aspenbrewingcompany.com) or a craft cocktail at Justice Snows (justicesnows.com).
And don’t miss the Hotel Jerome’s J-Bar, a 19th-century joint with an original stamped tin ceiling (hoteljerome.aubergeresorts.com). Ask for a cocktail made with vodka from Woody Creek Distillers, a distillery 20 minutes’ from Aspen.
Return flights from Heathrow to Aspen cost from £650 (ba.com). Double rooms at the Limelight Hotel start from $350, b&b (limelighthotel.com).
Just over two hours’ drive from Oslo, Trysil is Norway’s largest ski resort. Its gentle tree-lined slopes are well known to Scandinavians but only just appearing on the radars of savvy British travellers seeking family-friendly pistes and interesting eats.
There’s no doubt that Norway is a pricey place to dine but, for a ski resort, Trysil is reasonable. Portions are generous and food hearty, with
a recent renaissance of locally grown, raised and produced ingredients: rich creamy smor (butter) and delicate goat’s cheese from local producers, gamey moose and lamb served with mountain berries and more ryes, sourdoughs and cinnamon buns than you can shake a ski pole at.
There’s a scattering of ski in/ski out hotels but choose one of the self-catering grass-roofed wooden cabins on Trysil Panorama mountainside and you get wrap-around terraces with superb piste and peak views. Inside, décor is on the cosy side of chintzy, with kitchens decent enough to prepare cost-saving meals. Each sleeps between four and 18, and most have a sauna; a godsend for chilled bones.
For superb breads and pastries, homemade pink lemonade, mountain berry preserves and panini artfully layered with local cheeses and cured meats, go to Kort & Godt (nb-no.facebook.com/kortoggodtmat). Led by Kari Wassgren who pioneered the local Trysilkost food collective that helps chefs buy local, this bakery also delivers breakfast goodies. Don’t miss the walnut bread with classic Norwegian brunost (sweet brown ‘cheese’).
For sit-down meals, Trysil has some 30 ski-accessible mountain venues. At Knettsetra, a lovely old wood cabin surrounded by snowy pines, order the moose burger with Cajun fries (knettsetra.no). Skihytta is the other cosy cabin spot, renowned for its wild planks – foot-long wooden boards laden with house-smoked elk, duck, gravadlax, cumin crispbreads and lingonberries; and suppegjok – goulash soup served in a half-loaf bowl of bread. You’ll find it near the chairlift of the same name.
Beyond skiing there are plenty of family activities: ice fishing, husky sledding and winter picnics, easy cross-country routes and piste-side games for tots. Need to soothe ski-sore bodies? The Park Inn Trysil Mountain Resort Hotel has a spa with day passes for non-guests, as does the Radisson Blue Resort (radissonblu.com).
Return flights from Gatwick to Oslo cost from £90 (norwegian.com). Five-day car hire from £170 (hertz.no). Four-bed self-catering chalet at Trysil Panorama from £480 (skistar.com/trysil). Or book a one-week package including flights, transfers and an apartment from £799pp (ski-norway.co.uk).
Only an hour south of Salzburg – no winding round a mountainside for half a day, bus clinging perilously to narrow, snow-dusted roads – Grossarl is ideally placed for a weekend ski break. Famous for its high alpine pastures and mountain huts this Austrian village is in the middle of a valley, also home to the Alps’ largest national park, Hohe Tauern.
Stay at Grossarler Hof, a more-than-comfortable base minutes from a lift, with striking views. Luxurious facilities include a steaming outdoor whirlpool and Finnish-style spa, but the hotel retains the charm of a family-run chalet. Staff wear traditional Austrian dress, and the breakfast table is piled high with alpine cheeses and traditional jams, including feigensenf sauce (an addictive combo of mustard and figs) that’s so good we bought a jar from the market across the road.
Start as you mean to go on at Grossarler Hof with food to challenge the buttons of your salopettes. Heavy, paprika-rich meat stews are topped with fried eggs and sharp pickles. Buttered späetzle (soft egg noodles) are so comforting and warming they’re like another layer of thermals but are countered with bottomless glasses of floral grüner veltliner.
Higher up the mountain, schnapps is the thing to slurp. Many of the huts distill their own or serve beer tankards with heads tall and white enough to rival the snow-capped peaks. Stop off at Muhlwinkelhutte in Dorfgastein for käsekrainer (grilled sausage stuffed with cheese) or Gehwolfalm (gehwolf-huette.com) for tiroler gröstl (potato, onion, bacon, sausage and fried egg). Sauerkraut is optional, but why wouldn’t you?
Book a horse-drawn carriage ride under the stars, tucked up in blankets, to the Aschaustüberl restaurant in Hüttschlag. Warm up with mulled wine round an open fire, then order the bauernbratl, traditional local dumplings and kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake) with apple purée for pud. Don’t, however, be tempted to play hammerschlagen in any of the huts – the aim is to knock a nail into a tree trunk with the sharp end of a hammer, and the reward is a shot. As if skiing post-schnapps wasn’t daredevil enough…
Four nights at Grossarler Hof costs from €623pp, including breakfast, jause (a hearty afternoon snack), dinner and a three-day lift pass (grossarlerhof.at). Flights to Salzburg start at £38 each way (britishairways.com).
You’ll need to pack dinner jackets and heels if you’re planning a visit to Alta Badia in Italy’s Dolomite mountains. No other valley in the Alps boasts a higher concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants. Hats, gloves and ski boots are essential too, of course; there are 130km of UNESCO World Heritage slopes to explore on skis and another 80 for Nordic walking, snowshoeing and tobogganing.
The illustrious Rosa Alpina hotel (rosalpina.it), in San Cassiano, is both calming and elegant. Soothe tired muscles in the steamy basement spa, before heading back up to your luxurious room to get ready for dinner.
Influences from Italy and Germany, and traditional Ladin delicacies feature extensively on menus in Alta Badia. Rosa Alpina’s main restaurant, St Hubertus, La Siriola (ciasasalares.it) and La Stüa de Michil (hotel-laperla.it) all have Michelin stars (if not to eat, visit the latter for its wine cellar and unique immersive tour).
Alta Badia also plays host to a season-long culinary festival, A Taste for Skiing, that combines haute cuisine with local wine and head-in-the-cloud views. Dishes created by Michelin-starred chefs from across the region, marrying South Tyrolean and southern Italian cuisine, are served across the region’s mountain huts for as little as €5 each. Forget the heavy cheese- and potato-laden slope food you know; you’ll find the lightest, silkiest folds of handmade pasta, creamy barley with local suckling pig and earthy marjoram, and fine seafood in delicate sauces.
On six dates over the season, Sommeliers on the Slopes sees qualified sommeliers turn tour guides to lead visitors from chalet to chalet to taste selections of Tyrolean wines as they go. Italians like sprightly, fresh wines, so don’t be alarmed if you’re given a young one. Get your nose stuck into each; high altitudes can make the bouquet of your plonk more intense.
Three-night ski weekends at Rosa Alpina cost from £1,581pp, b&b, including concierge, return flights and private transfers (powderbyrne.com).