Hotel connoisseur and travel specialist, Iain Ainsworth, shares a round-up of his alpine favourites.

There is something of a bewildering intensity about the Alps; especially now as winter casts a magical tapestry of fresh whiteness decking the frosty summits. They become a fantasy wonderland of jaw-dropping beauty with perhaps some of the most stunning scenery in the world. The smorgasbord of language, culture, tradition, food and favourite tipples – mostly brewed from centuries-old recipes – capture the spirit of these soaring peaks where cute buried-in-snow hamlets play host to the infamous après-ski scene. It doesn’t matter how often you have been to the Alps, they are never quite the same – they are an unbeatable winter wonderland for both the adrenaline junkies and for those who gravitate towards the slow-lane, soaking up the combo of snow-capped-sunshine & spa.


Gasthof Hirschen at night


A regal legacy, the centuries old Gasthof Hirschen had been etched by time itself in the cute-as-pie village of Schwarzenberg, cradled by Lake Constance and the stunning Bregrenzerwald mountains of Vorarlberg. Peel under the Baronial façade of cured timbers and you discover a family heirloom that has been brushed by a curatorial eye; the walls are decked with contemporary artworks – a cultural marriage of rustic meets East-side gallery surrounded by snow.

Insiders Tip: The Werkraum (workshop) is dedicated to craftmanship and has 85 members. It shows some great ideas and cooperations between architects, craftsman and artists. The building itself is designed by the internationally renowned architect Peter Zumthor.

Winter Wonderland at Miramonte


These two sister hotels each have fabulous views across the historic Spa Town, Bad Gastein, and while each has a differing feel and concept, they are the same family and so enjoy a relaxed informality that has become their signature. Haus Hirt is essentially the chic Country House geared for family life and the smooth Miramonte is more for the modern urbanite bathed in cool fifties Vogue glamour. Both come complete with an Aveda Spa.

Insiders Tip: Go wild – There are some testing runs on the Stubnerkogel and a couple of nice blacks on the Graukogel. The off-piste can be fantastic too – why not hire a guide and head to the spectacular offpiste route from Kreuzkogel to Heilstollen, or sign up for an off-piste safari or touring day with the ski school.

Hotel Arlberg in Lech


Lech is of course famous for being a celeb and royal bolthole. Not only is it surrounded by 94 cable cars and lifts, 340 km prepared ski-runs and 190 km off-pistes, it also comes with heated ski lift seats and it’s not uncommon to see a vintage Bentley sporting snow chains. At the heart of this cute village, is the plush Hotel Arlberg Lech – a family owned third generation hotel that brims with cheerful informality and sweet, unassuming luxury.

Insiders Tip: If you can tear yourself away from the comforts of the hotel, you have to experience the famous “Langer Zug”. It’s one of the most challenging and steepest slopes in Austria. Upon returning to the hotel, refuel on a tasty Fondue in the hotel “Stube” – simply delicious.


Hotel Spitzhorn in Gstaad


A recent addition to the vast pristine ski scene of Saanen in the Canton of Berner Oberland, this rather dapper hotel sports a chilled and relaxed feel dressed in sober, unfussy lux and enviably sits just below the mountain spectacle of the Spitzhorn. Skiing in the Gstaad & the Saanenland offers some 250km of pistes at altitudes up to 3000m.

Insiders Tip: Hidden down a little alley, out of sight, in the centre of quaint Saanen, is the infamous 16 Bar & Restaurant – a newly refurbed barn and farmhouse. The menu is sourced locally with different options on a daily basis. Warning – cash only!

Cervo Mountain Boutique


With the best location in the village enjoying the majesty of the Matterhorn on its doorstop, this smooth designer Alpine den sits in the heart of happening Zermatt – an eclectic blend of hunting lodge meets Soho House, there is a definite vibe about the place which bubbles with quiet, fun spirited, confidence.

Insiders Tip: Book yourself the Owners Lodge with 240m² of über cool interiors, complete with outdoor whirlpool, fireplaces, private sauna and a panoramic window view of the Matterhorn – This is Zermatt in private.

The Capra in Saas-Fee


The Capra, located in the heart of the naturally breath-taking village of Saas-Fee, offers understated luxury and comfort with a contemporary twist on traditional Swiss chalet design. The boutique hotel offers both fine and casual dining in its restaurant, La Locanda by Oliver Glowig, where you can enjoy mountain panoramic views.

Insiders Tip: Make sure to pay a visit to the underground funicular railway as well as the mountain peak revolving restaurant at 3,500 m, both of which are the highest in the world. If you want a break from skiing, check out the 5km toboggan run from the top of the Hannig.


Lagacio Hotel Mountain in San Cassiano


Dolomite spotting here is made easy at this eco-inspired contemporary ski lodge in San Cassiano. Ethically pure and endearing, this green family run hotel puts nature at the heart of everything. Infused by Ladin culture – it is cosy, sleek and stylish with a fab Spa. The perfect base for venturing out into this Gastro-heaven with almost as many Michelin stars as those that twinkle above Alta Badia.

Insiders Tip: Indulge in the ancient Spa treatment of a hay bath at the hotel before heading out to one of the all time favourites – a farmhouse restaurant serving local dishes all created by the farmer and his wife – an endless soiree of delight and terribly yummy.


The Adlerhorst Suite at the Hubertus Alpin Lodge & Spa


Balderschwang is a hidden gem situated in what the Germans affectionately call “Bavarian Siberia” at 1,745 metres above sea level. It’s a place where the snowfall is legendary, which is what makes the famous Allgäu ski region such a must. The Hubertus marries everything lovely and traditional with a modern fresh take on alpine charm and comfort. The vibe is chilled and confident, earthy and honest – we love it.

Insiders Tip: Get yourself up early and catch the spectacular sunrise on the Sipplingerkopf as a new day dawns over a panorama of more than 800 Allgäu, Austrian and Swiss mountains. Trust us – it is well worth the 5am wake-up call.


Le Chalet Zannier in Megeve


Decently poised on the edge of happening Megève, this ski recluse sits well off the everyman radar in the French Alps. Conceived as a chalet retreat away from the maddened crowd, the place adopts a chocolate box Amor redesigned for the modern urbanite seeking privacy in style. This is a hub that caters equally to the adrenalin socialite as it does to those seeking a little Spa solace with cool brand Aesops.

Insiders Tip: Dine in and take the culinary journey created by young talent, chef Julien Burlat – a relaxed affair of utter taste with “simplicity refined with a hint of passion.”

Content by Brett Gregory-Peake, Director at Adoreum