Ski holiday accommodation is more than just somewhere to lay your head after a long day on the slopes: it’s your own little sanctuary and should add an extra element of enjoyment to your trip.
When you’re looking for places to stay, you’ll come across two main categories: ski hotels and ski chalets. Knowing the difference between the two can help you to find your perfect base. Here are some of the main differences.
Family-style meals versus restaurant dining
Catered chalets are private homes managed by staff who handle the cooking and cleaning. Most have ‘chalet board’: this usually includes a hearty breakfast before hitting the slopes, tea and cakes in the afternoon, and dinner (with wine) for six out of seven evenings. The ambience is more relaxed than in a restaurant and is more akin to family dining especially if you’ve taken the whole chalet. Some chalets offer bed and breakfast only – leaving you free to explore the resort’s restaurant scene at lunch and dinner.
Most ski hotels have on-site à la carte restaurants. The larger properties have a few different options, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining. One example is The Little Nell in Aspen – named as one of four ski hotels with the finest food – which offers ‘elevated diner’ food in its Ajax Tavern (think wagyu double cheeseburgers), and more gourmet dishes such as lamb loin with espresso jus in its Element 47 restaurant.
Cosy and intimate versus spacious and private
Chalets are smaller and more intimate than hotels. If you’re travelling as a large group, you can book out the entire place and have it to yourselves. Alternatively, you can reserve a room and share the property with other couples or small groups doing the same. You’ll have your own space but come together at meal times to eat. This is a fantastic way to meet people and make new ski buddies – it’s a bit like a luxury hostel experience.
Hotels are generally larger, and, because they usually have a lot more rooms you’re less likely to get to know your fellow guests. If you prefer to keep yourself to yourself – or simply want a romantic holiday with your other half – a hotel will give you more anonymity and privacy.
Spacious bars versus cosy lounges
Mingling with your fellow guests is easier in chalets, as they have smaller communal spaces – think cosy lounges around an open log fire, or a hot tub on a rooftop deck. Booking the whole place for a group means that you can relax and act as if you were in your own home, without worrying about disturbing others.
Hotels typically have larger communal areas where guests can meet, mingle or just spend some time out of their room. The experience is unlikely to be as homely as a chalet. You’ll usually find full bar service, with staff on hand to take your drinks orders. Larger hotels also have other amenities like spas, so you can get a relaxing massage after a long day on the slopes.
The question of price
Ski chalets have a reputation for being expensive, but they can be surprisingly affordable – especially if you find the right deal. While hotel room prices are pretty much set in stone, the cost of a chalet is divided by the number of people renting it. If you’re planning a ski holiday with a big group of friends, it could work out cheaper to book an entire place than to opt for multiple rooms in a hotel.
Just like hotels, chalets vary in terms of price and luxuriousness. While you can expect to spend upwards of £800 per person on a room in a luxury chalet (including flights and transfers), it’s possible to find deals for under £400 too.
Choosing between a hotel and a chalet really comes down to one question in the end: do you prefer the intimate atmosphere of a home-away-from-home, or the anonymity and amenities of a large hotel?
Chalets versus hotels in the same resorts – how do they add up?
Luxury in Méribel
Two luxury properties in Meribel for Easter week (w/c 31 March). Both are rated 4* with hot tubs and saunas (the hotel also has a swimming pool and gym).
Hotel La Chaudanne, https://www.skisolutions.com/accommodations/la-chaudanne
31.03.18 – guide price £1559pp (includes half-board, flights, transfers)
Chalet Mariefleur, https://www.skisolutions.com/accommodations/mariefleur
01.04.18 – guide price £1055pp (includes chalet-board, flights, transfers)
Budget options in Les Deux Alpes
Two budget options in Les Deux Alpes for w/c 7 April. Both are rated 3*. Both have a sauna and the hotel also has a hot tub.
Hotel Le Cairn, https://www.skisolutions.com/accommodations/hotel-le-cairn
07.04.18 – guide price £494pp (includes flights & transfers)
Chalet Alexandre, https://www.skisolutions.com/accommodations/alexandre
07.04.18, guide price £435pp (includes chalet-board, flights & transfers)