Hard to believe, as summer officially winds down, but it’s time to start thinking about booking your winter holidays. Last week we brought you North America’s finest mountain lodges, but we haven’t forgotten about the rest of the world — after all, the Alps are the true birthplace of mountaineering as we know it. In the spirit of the great alpinists of yore, here are our old-world recommendations for the upwardly mobile.
Talloires, France — Let’s start strong with this converted Benedictine monastery on the shore of Lac d’Annecy’s limpid waters, a powerful argument for the French Alps’ natural restorative (and spiritual) properties. Cézanne certainly agreed, in any case. Take your meals on the sun-dappled terrace and drink in the changelessness.
Morzine, France — This classic chalet anchors the Rhône-Alpes village of Morzine, site of several Tour de France flammes rouges over the years. All outdoorsfolk are welcome, however, as the surrounding landscape boasts plenty of excursion potential. And the après-ski facilities leave little to be desired.
Trento, Italy — The name alone should signal the entrenched eco-friendliness behind this converted boutique’s philosophy, paired with an amusing emphasis on “couples hospitality.” That extends to ski lessons in the Dolomites, intimate meals by a Michelin-starred chef, and massages for two at the on-site spa.
San Cassiano, Italy — You don’t mess with the fundamentals of Dolomite lodges, true, but there’s room to play when it comes to interiors. The geometry here is decidedly urbane: clean and crisp lines excite visual interest without sacrificing the raw wood and textiles that define Alpine hospitality’s inimitable coziness. This particular remix is well worth the visit.
Crans-Montana, Switzerland — Ski junkies and snow bunnies, look no further — here’s your textbook chalet, an altitudinous ski-in/ski-out retreat in the Swiss Alps. Each suite and guestroom bears the name of a famous peak or range and looks out over the region’s abundant snowcaps from a private balcony.
Arosa, Switzerland — Another contemporary update to the classic formula, this flight of architectural whimsy has recently expanded its facilities to cater to travelers in all seasons. Athletes and the health-conscious in particular will love the outdoor facilities and spa, the latter doused in the ample light afforded by massive skylit dormers.
Leogang, Austria — Boundless, youthful energy rules the day here, from the Flying Fox XXL Mega Zipline to Mountain’s Peak, a dining platform accessible by indoor climbing wall. Contemporary urban design sensibility meets timeless, earthy Alpinism. Play hard, drink harder.
Achenkirch, Austria — The catalogue of mountain-specific outdoorsy pursuits available here would keep anyone busy for weeks: guided hikes, all types of skiing, tobogganing, paragliding, and watersports in Lake Achen, for starters. All of which should make you grateful for the expansive spa facilities, which in turn should work up an appetite for the hotel’s authentic Tyrolean cuisine.
Minami-uonuma, Japan — And now for something…surprisingly similar, actually. Alps by proxy, if you will. The name conjures a distinctly Japanese mindset: elegance, tranquility, and natural stewardship in equal measure, balanced by a sharp eye for Scandinavian design details. Don’t skip the hot springs. Or the sake.
Takayama, Japan — 160 years in the making, this ryokan masterwork has proven itself worthy many times over. The wabi-sabi palpably emanates from every timeworn, just-so surface. Pure, woodsy enchantment is the order of the day in this mountain gem. Give yourself at least a couple days to fully disengage.