The high life: luxury chalets

France remains the premier destination for luxury chalet rentals, with constant advances in design, facilities and services

Travel 5 Jan 2018

The spacious gold leaf-lined pool at the Marco Polo chalet in Val D’Isère
A cosy bedroom at Petite Marmotte in Courchevel
The Lightbowne, Méribel
Chalet Iona, Le Villard

PETITE MARMOTTE, COURCHEVEL

The French Alps, and especially Courchevel, has experienced an arms race in the chalet market over the past decade: ever bigger, ever flashier. Standing against the tide, like the house in Up, the Petite Marmotte is a tiny, picturesque converted hay barn that sleeps two in romantic cosiness. Perfect for those James Bond-Teresa Draco fantasies. It’s not all pastoral idyll charm – it has satellite TV, WiFi and a private outdoor hot tub; and the services of a butler and chef are available. In addition, if the fairy-tale isolation gets too much, you can choose to dine in Angela Hartnett’s restaurant, Cucina Angelina, at the Portetta hotel (sister property of Lime Wood in the New Forest) in Courchevel 1650.
From €5,000 a week; portetta.com/lodges

THE LIGHTBOWNE, MÉRIBEL

Rustic cuckoo-clock chalet style is not to everyone’s taste and there is a growing movement towards contemporary design in the French Alps. TG Ski’s new chalet, The Lightbowne, is wooden and traditional on the outside, but the interior has the sensibility of a London members’ club – spacious, uncluttered, clean lines, bold classic colours. Lighting, furnishings and fabrics are from the likes of Tom Dixon, Philippe Starck and Thibaut. Unusually, the six bedrooms are actually suites, giving guests a bit of privacy. The Lightbowne is spread over four floors, with one dedicated to spa facilities – sauna, hot tub and a massage room.
From £17,800 a week; tgski.com

Heidi-style La Ferme du Soleil chalet
Heidi-style La Ferme du Soleil chalet

MARCO POLO, VAL D’ISÈRE

When Chalet Marco Polo opened in 2012, it stood out thanks to its eye-catching swimming pool, designed by Christian Lacroix and using so much gold leaf that even Gustav Klimt would have exclaimed, ‘Steady on’. It is part of an entire floor dedicated to wellness, including a hot tub and three treatment rooms. This season, the six-bedroom chalet has some fun new additions, including a téléphérique cable car for your boot fitting and a 25m slot car track for eight cars set in an intricately detailed diorama. Ridiculous fun. Post-race, the chalet staff can mix one of three cocktails designed by Rich Woods, head bartender of Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle, for Consensio chalets.
From £30,000 a week; consensiochalets.co.uk

CHALET IONA, LE VILLARD

This chalet, located in a hamlet below Méribel, has reopened having been rebuilt after a fire, and houses a surprising collection of antiques from periods not usually associated with the Alps. The owners are fans of 18th- and early 19th-century furnishings – bold chunkiness and sweeping curves in marble, walnut and birdseye maple. The collection starts in the Biedermeier period; Tiffany standard lamps take you through Art Nouveau; and Art Deco is the era most represented. Known as “the last chalet in the village”, Iona has views through an orchard to the Vanoise National Park. The Olympic Express lift, accessing the huge Trois Vallées ski area, is a four-minute chauffeur-drive away.
From £6,200 a week; skifrance.co.uk

Chef Chris Bolan offers a gourmet chalet experience; the 65ft living room at Ferme de la Corderie chalet
Chef Chris Bolan offers a gourmet chalet experience; the 65ft living room at Ferme de la Corderie chalet

LA FERME DU SOLEIL, LE GRAND BORNAND

Staying in this chalet is reminiscent of a night in a mountain refuge – you are guaranteed first tracks every morning. Many chalets are described as being “right on the slopes” or “ski in-ski out”. To reach La Ferme du Soleil, which sleeps up to 14 people, you have to ski to the door – there is no road access. It means you have to arrive before the lifts close, because you need to take a chair lift, while your luggage is transferred by snowmobile. The decor turns the Heidi dial up to 11, with red and white checked valances, dangling wooden hearts, mountain flower motifs on curtains and a cosy enclosed bed. The food is focused on homemade Savoyard specialities – charcuterie, fruit, yoghurt and cheese (Le Grand-Bornand is the home of reblochon). The local ski area is open one night a week for evening skiing, but La Ferme du Soleil guests can use it as a chance for a night out in the village. La Clusaz ski area is just 15 minutes away.
£10,200 a week; thewhitechaletcollection.com

FERME DE LA CORDERIE, LES GETS

Property prices in the big three chalet destinations – Courchevel, Méribel, Val d’Isère – are so inflated that attention is turning to other resorts – particularly Les Gets and Morzine, part of Les Portes du Soleil, a linked ski area as big as the Trois Vallées and only 75 minutes from Geneva airport. This newly available property, which sleeps up to 14, is a gorgeously renovated farmhouse with huge spaces for the price – the main living area alone is more than 65 feet long.
From €17,000 (£15, 233) a week; oxfordski.com

Ferme de la Corderie chalet
Ferme de la Corderie chalet

CERF ROUGE, MÉRIBEL

Fine dining is an essential part of the modern luxury chalet experience. One of the pioneering companies in gastro chalets was Fish&Pips (an amalgamation of their names, Holly Fisher and Philippa Hartley), who are also involved with the Abinger Cookery School, which trains many other chalets’ chefs. This season, the operator is offering three weeks (beginning 18 and 25 March, and 1 April) at this 10-person chalet with chef Chris Bolan working over a hot stove in the open-plan kitchen for you. Bolan is the sous-chef at Trinity, Adam Byatt’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Clapham. The large, comfortable and centrally located chalet has a terrace with a hot tub, as well as a hammam. On the gourmet theme, luxury tour operator Scott Dunn (POA, scottdunn.com) is offering a bespoke Flying Chefs service with its chalets – with the likes of Pierre Koffmann, Sat Bains and Monica Galetti on call.
£27,500 a week; fishandpips.co.uk