Best affordable ski hotels for foodies
Check out budget hotels for young travellers and spacious suites for families across the world, from Val Thorens to Lake Tahoe. Expect panoramic views of the ski slopes, outdoor swimming pools and log fires
Looking for an affordable ski resort? Read our guide on the eight best ski hotels for foodies, ideal for cheap ski holidays. Everything from trendy hotels in Val Thorens to modern hostels in Lake Tahoe, California. Expect outdoor swimming pools with panoramic views of the slopes, lounges with open log fires and Scandinavian style spas with steam rooms. If you want more even more foodie ski resorts, check out our guide, then explore the best of Scotland's ski resorts.
Terminal Neige Totem, France
From £279, check availability at booking.com
As well as some of the resort’s best ski food, Hotel Terminal Neige Totem has the best position in calm, car-free Flaine. Part of this purpose-built resort – famously designed in ‘brutalist’ Bauhaus style by architect Marcel Breuer in the late 1960s – its picture windows frame wide-angle views of Flaine’s northwest-facing slopes. Slopes that are so close it truly is ski-in, ski-out.
Owned by France’s upmarket Sibuet hotels group, this was the first venture in a new, more affordable spin-off hotel brand called Terminal Neige (a second property has recently opened above Chamonix) – and is a return to form for Flaine, where the vision for Wallpaper-style interiors to bring out the best of Breuer’s bold concrete buildings (actually a beautifully graphic reflection of the limestone-lined bowl in which the resort sits) went dramatically off-piste in the 1980s and ‘90s as mass-market operators moved in.
The hotel is bookable on a b&b basis by the night as well as by the week, half-board (being under 90 minutes’ drive from Geneva airport also helps make it easily weekend-able). In an effort to keep prices down, there are few frills: no minibars, no fluffy bathrobes but decent bathrooms, plenty of storage space for bulky ski gear and great beds.
On the ground floor is a bar and lounge area (complete with original Breuer fireplace) that caters to the cocktails, craft beer and charcuterie crowd rather than the fine dining set. The restaurant food reflects the same philosophy, pairing carefully sourced ingredients with playful touches to suit for hungry skiers, couples and families alike. Hang out by the fire with a glass of wine from the owners’ Luberon vineyard, the Domaine de Marie, or a jam jar cocktail (we recommend the Ruby, made with gin, lime juice, raspberry liqueur and cranberry juice). Then take a seat in the restaurant for plates of charcuterie, slices of beef served with a nutmeg-spiked root vegetable gratin or pan-fried seabass with a rich ratatouille and green beans. Home-cooked pizzas, quiches and chips are usually on offer, too, as is fondue.
The Green Leaf Niseko Village, Japan
From £115, check availability at booking.com
A far flung winter option, Niseko Village, which huddles on the slopes of the soaring Mount Niseko on Hokkaido, in North Eastern Japan, is one of Asia’s most acclaimed winter playgrounds. At its heart is this traditional-style village, now also a focal point for an array of hotels, shops and restaurants.
Among the latter you can sample various strands of Japanese food including traditional kaizuko-yaki steamed crab. Stay at the resort’s ski-in, ski-out Green Leaf hotel and enjoy its Alpine/Japanese décor and the soothing waters of its own onsen, a time-honoured Japanese tradition for après ski winding down.
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, Georgia
From £114, check availability at mrandmrssmith.com
Anyone who has visited Georgia will attest that sampling the local cuisine is one of the highlights of this trending destination at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. At Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, high in the Caucasus Mountains, you can sample traditional Georgian food after hitting the slopes of the country’s most popular ski resorts. Housed in the remnants of a guesthouse formerly reserved for government officials, the style across the hotel’s 156 guestrooms is old-meets-new and most have panoramic views of the snow-shrouded peaks of Mount Kazbek.
Georgian cooks are fanatical about local produce and, as well as showcasing ingredients plucked from the surrounding mountains, river and pastures, chefs here also give impromptu workshops and cookery classes at communal tables. Don’t miss the chance to sample dumplings (khinkali), the ratatouille-like ajapsandali and a glass of local Qvervi wine.
Milk Hotel, France
Milkhotel is one of a new breed of more affordable hotels popping up all over the Alps, where the ambience and gourmet offering are every bit as important as the white stuff outside. Set in the quiet village of Les Carroz, in France’s Grand Massif, there is an intimate, chalet-style atmosphere and pared-back Alpine aesthetic here.
Don’t check in if you’re looking for a thrumming après-ski scene but do come for relaxing afternoons spent on the hotel’s sunny terrace watching the sun’s rays fade. Come nightfall there are simple Haute Savoie classics on offer at the restaurant; well executed renditions of tartiflette, raclette and fondue.
The Chandolin Boutique Hotel, Switzerland
From £177, check availability at booking.com
You won’t find too many other tourists in Chandolin, a tiny, under-the-radar village in the Swiss Alps. Set at an altitude of over 2,000m it is one of Europe’s highest year-round inhabited villages, so the views from the hotel are pretty special. Surveying a pine and larch dotted valley in the Valais canton, this winter will see the first ski season unfold since the 25-room The Chandolin swung open its doors earlier this year.
The hotel’s design takes its cues from the natural surroundings, albeit with a modern mix – exposed larch and pine on the outside with natural materials like stone and aged oak parquet and warm tones on the inside. The St. Luc Chandolin and Val d’Anniviers ski areas are right on the hotel’s doorstop. Breakfast is an impressive spread of local produce, cured meats, cheese and dairy products, while at night, Le Restaurant serves Swiss classics and Val d’Hérens beef accompanied by a serious wine list of over 400 wines.
Basecamp Tahoe South, Lake Tahoe
From £166, check availability at booking.com
After a day on the slopes around Lake Tahoe you can return to Basecamp and join in that quintessential American campfire tradition - roasting s’mores around one of its two outdoor fire pits. This is a mountain basecamp reimagined for a more comfort-conscious traveller. The vibe is young and adventurous, somewhere between a stylish hostel and a hotel. Its 76 rooms are done out with a nod to the Great Outdoors with reclaimed wood, plaid blankets and bright orange kerosene lamps.
The restaurant, meanwhile, serves global mountain fare, which runs the whole gamut from Lake Tahoe chilli to Swiss fondue. Beer fans are in for a treat as the hotel’s Beer Garden has just unveiled its own Desolation Brewery and the hotel also conducts a Lake Tahoe Brewery Tour. Lake Tahoe is one of California’s great gateways to the wilderness and the Heavenly Ski Resort gondola is only four minutes’ walk from the hotel.
Rocky Pop, France
From £45, check availability at booking.com
Rocky Pop is a fun and affordable hotel in the Mont Blanc valley, with an emphasis on attracting the lower-budget traveller - think vibrant lamps, exposed wooden tables and video game machines. There’s an open-plan area on the ground floor where you’ll find live music, movies and a photo booth to snap some post ski shots on, too.
When it’s time for après ski, grab a bite to eat from one of the food court-style counters serving up gourmet burgers, pizzas topped with rocket, ceps and Parmesan and traditional French mountain cuisine such as tartiflette and beef with pommes Lyonnaises. If you’re going off-piste, make a beeline for the bar and order a pisco sour or a post dinner espresso martini.
Fahrenheit Seven, France
From £174, check availability at booking.com
If you’re looking for an affordable yet stylish hotel to lounge in post-ski, then Fahrenheit Seven is a good option for anyone looking for a hip ‘home from home’. The brand operates in two locations in France, Courchevel and Val Thorens; the latter has been nominated as the world’s best new ski hotel thanks to its modern design and cosy feel. Inside you'll find most guests are comfortably accommodated, whether you’re skiing alone, as a couple or as a family of four: try to bag the top-floor suite for the most idyllic views over Val Thorens.
Away from the slopes, take some time out to relax with a hot chocolate by the hotel's open fire, or visit the Scandinavian-style spa to soothe tired muscles in its saunas and hammam. Spend the evenings, meanwhile, indulging in fondues and listening to jazz. There's a choice of two restaurants - lively Le Zinc offers local specialties such as tartare de Boeuf and frites, whereas La Rôtisserie serves classic roast meats, fish and a dedicated children’s menu.
La Tania, France
Tucked between chic Meribel and heaving Courchevel, La Tania is something of a smug secret between skiers on a budget. Stay at the recently renovated Chalet Nid Alpin for a full-board package that foodies would approve of (breakfast, afternoon tea and three-course dinners with French wine). Expect addictive, melt-in-the-mouth peanut butter cookies, giant tartiflette baked with whole reblochon cheese, and ski-pant-busting sticky toffee pudding. There’s even a cheese and port night. Make friends with the ski school, too, and you might be lucky enough to taste homemade génépi liqueur, infused with local artemisia flowers that are plucked from the slopes during the summer months. And when it’s the chalet hosts’ night off, head into La Tania for everything from Michelin-starred plates at Le Farçon to burgers at Le Chrome Bar.
Apartment Marguerite, France
For ultimate Alpine cosiness, with access to the vast Three Valleys ski area, base yourself in the heart of the charming jumble of old stone buildings that make up the centre of St Martin de Belleville. Apartment Marguerite (within a larger building called Chalet Alice Velut) is a two-bedroom, first-floor apartment that comes decorated with lots of timber and vintage ski posters. It’s perfect for a small family – you can walk to local shops and traiteurs (delicatessens), where you can stock up on Savoyard classics such as tomme and comté cheese. Plus you can dip into St Martin’s dining scene, which runs the gamut of rustic to refined. Splash out with a night at La Bouitte, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in neighbouring St Marcel that takes the traditional cheese trolley and reimagines it as a veritable cheese chariot, laden with 40 varieties all from the Savoie or Haut Savoie region.
Le Lion d’Or, France
At Hôtel Le Lion d’Or, in Cauterets in the French Pyrenees, you’re treated to pillow-shaped donuts (made by grand-mère Lasserre) every morning. Known as merveilles or marvels, they’re made to a recipe that has been handed down through the generations – it is the fourth generation of the Lasserre family that currently runs this cosy, welcoming hotel. It’s an especially good option for families, particularly the two-bedroomed, self-catering apartment across the street from the blue-shuttered hotel. You can stroll across to the hotel restaurant for French mountain classics such as tartiflette and myrtille berry cake, as well as a fortifying breakfast buffet to set you up nicely for a day on the slopes.
Buustamons Fjallgard, Sweden
From £96, check availability at booking.com
Åre is one of Sweden’s most well-known ski resorts, and was for a long time the closest town to foodie bucket list destination restaurant, Fäviken Magasinet (which, unfortunately, chef Magnus Nilsson is closing permanently in December 2019). There are, however, plenty of other great places to eat in the area, including Lillåstugan's Waffle Mill (accessible only by skis) for sauerkraut stew and flower-shaped waffles topped with homemade cream and berries. Buustamons Fjällgård is a small, 12-bedroom inn with two self-catering cabins, set in the middle of the snow-dusted slopes. The kitchen likes to keep things local, using as many raw materials from Jämtland as possible. Finish dinner with a glass of schnapps from the inn’s own on-site distillery.
From £159, check availability at booking.com
Skiers are turning to Japan as a winter destination, hoping to combine its snow-sure slopes with local cuisine and the chance to soothe weary muscles with a post-piste dip in an onsen, Japan’s famous hot springs. Stick with tradition and book a stay at Shirouma-so ryokan, a Japanese inn that skirts the slopes of the Happo-one ski resort at Hakuba in Nagano. Stay in an authentic tatami bedroom and sample the owner’s traditional home-cooking (called okami-san), which draws on Hakuba’s regional specialties. Try traditional purple rice, tempura with wild vegetables and homemade pickles. The on-site hot bath is fed from the Hakuba Happo hot springs.
Hotel Casa Irene, Spain
From £88, check availability at booking.com
The Val d’Aran is an impossibly picturesque valley, sliced through the steep peaks of the Spanish Pyrenees in the northernmost reaches of Catalonia. Arties is one of the valley’s medieval villages, tucked close to some of Spain’s best skiing on the slopes of Baqueira-Beret. There are 22 antique-scattered bedrooms and a dining room, Casa Irene, where the menu reflects the bounties of the surrounding valleys and peaks. Try organic Pyrenean lamb from Xisquet and dishes studded with mushrooms and truffles gathered from nearby forests. When you’re not eating at the hotel, you can explore Arties’ cobbled alleyways and eat other rustic, local specialties such as olha Aranese, a local soup made from chicken, beef and rice.
From £168, check availability at booking.com
At this city hotel, in the Norwegian capital, you can ski by day and dip into Oslo’s burgeoning foodie scene by night, including the likes of three-Michelin-starred Maaemo. The city’s most accessible ski resort, Vinterpark, is just 30 minutes outside the city centre and is accessible by metro – you can even see Oslo and its fjords from the ski lifts. There are 10km of downhill pistes here and even more cross-country skiing trails (the latter is big in Norway).
Lysebu Hotel is in Oslo’s Holmenkollen neighbourhood and is one of Norway’s most historic hotels – it was created from a clutch of traditional buildings designed by Norwegian architect, Magnus Poulsson, in 1916. Now owned by The Foundation for Danish-Norwegian Cooperation, Lysebu and its restaurant garner plenty of praise among regulars. The restaurant’s seasonal, Scandi-inspired menus are one reason for a night in. Try cured Arctic char, or veal and porcini mushrooms in a roasted garlic sauce. And, if you fancy an afternoon away from the slopes, you can head to the hotel’s new cookery school to polish your Scandi-cooking skills.
Hotel Miramonte, Austria
From £124, check availability at booking.com
Hotel Miramonte is a traditional chalet shaken-up for a more contemporary audience. The 1960s building clings to the foot of Graukogel Mountain in the Austrian resort of Bad Gastein, and owner Ike Ikrath has given it a thoroughly modern makeover. It’s a simple yet smart aesthetic, with a dash of glamour, and guests can make the most of daily yoga classes and a thermal spa fed straight from Bad Gastein’s healing waters. Dinner is a four-course affair of adapted mountain classics, including light dishes of smoked trout and horseradish, and goulash and dumplings. Unusually for the meat-heavy mountains, vegetarians and vegans are also well-catered for. A family outfit, Ikrath’s wife owns the equally stylish Haus Hirt hotel down the hill.
Words | Aoife O’Riordain, Rhiannon Batten, Ellie Edwards and Laura Rowe
Images | YTL Hotels, Design Hotels, Eva Kolenko, Tommy Andresen