Opened December 2015, the Terminal Neige Totem is Flaine’s first ‘traditional’ hotel: traditional in the sense that it is the first hotel in resort where you can book for just one night (or more of course) making it perfect for short breaks. But that’s where ‘traditional’ stops.
The ‘Terminal Neige’ concept is the latest offering from the Sibuet hotel family (they also have luxury hotels in Avoriaz, Val Thorens and Megeve) and is designed to offer an urban hotel in the mountains. Flaine’s striking brutalist setting is a perfect choice for their prototype. But it’s also first and foremost a skier’s hotel; it is in the main village (at 1600m) so you’re very central as well as just minutes from the slopes and lifts.
Flaine is famed for its modern sculptures located throughout the resort and the hotel is named for the nearby Picasso totem as well as boasting its own. Designed and built in the 1960s by Marcel Breuer – the uncompromising architect responsible for the design of the entire original resort, the Totem is the French equivalent of a listed building and therefore the refurbishment was done sensitively.
The Sibuets’ goal is to create a ‘friendly mountain hotel’ environment and this is evident throughout. In principle this is a three star offering but would be better compared to an upmarket chalet in terms of the comfort and thought that’s gone into the guest experience. The somewhat stark exterior might seem bleak to those accustomed to traditional Savoyarde but the interior is as welcoming and cosy as any mountain chalet.
The open plan reception together with the friendly team who greet you on arrival set the tone for the rest of the hotel. The reception, dining room, bar and lounge flow seamlessly together linked by amazing floor to ceiling windows. In a nice touch, the chairs in the dining area are all vintage 60s and 70s (refurbished where required) and retro fans can play video games. The common areas allow you to be as relaxed as you like with super comfortable sofas but the bar and dining area are chic enough for you to dress for dinner if that’s your thing.
Everywhere you can find evidence that these guys understand what skiers are looking for, from the large open fire in the lounge area (the fireplace is also listed) to the outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the slopes (which is as lovely as it looks).
Breakfast and dinner are both buffet style and the food is varied and excellent, changing daily. Should you wish to (why?) there’s also a healthy option every evening and much of the produce is sourced locally. For something lighter in the evening, try the tasting plates of charcuterie, cheeses, smoked salmon as well as possibly the best sardines I’ve ever had.
The bedrooms range from standard to an impressive three bedroom ‘loft’ apartment but all have the same super comfortable beds, fluffy white towels and distinctive décor which blends local textiles with modern architecture, including the original wooden headboards.
As you’d expect, they have a ski shop in the hotel for equipment hire. The staff are super friendly (that word again) offering advice on the best skis for the snow conditions and your level. They stock a good selection including many you won’t find in the resort’s hire shops. There’s also a reasonable choice of clothing and accessories in case you’ve left anything behind (or just feel like shopping).
And don’t miss the spa and wellness area. The resident-only wellness area has two saunas, a superb outdoor jacuzzi as well as a gym. All facilities are helpfully open from 7am right through to 8pm. So, if you must go on a running machine while you’re on holiday (again – why?) at least you can focus on the stunning views rather than daytime TV. The adjacent Spa Pure Altitude offers a range of treatments. Any booking also gives you free access to the wellness space.
The objective of to creating a ‘friendly mountain hotel’ seems to have been achieved and certainly each member of the team looks as happy to be there as you are. Overall, there’s a professional yet relaxed environment – the staff are dressed casually (jeans and branded tops) but service is attentive and friendly.
As they say in the hotel – eat, ski, drink, repeat! At the Totem, that’s no hardship.
*All images © Terminal Neige Totem / L. Do Orio, C. Arnal & DR
Flaine is largely car free but if you’re driving (or being dropped off) you can drive to the main entrance to drop your bags before parking in the resort car parks five minutes’ walk away.
Low season rates start from €150 (high season €280) for a double room with breakfast. The wellness area is a €10 supplement for each visit but is free when booked with a spa treatment.
T: +33 4 30 05 03 40
Central reservations: +33 4 57 74 74 74
+33 4 30 05 03 40
Flaine Forum, 74300 Flaine, France