Paint the picture
Courchevel describes itself unashamedly as ‘The world’s ski capital’. The Alpine resort is actually made up of six villages, of which Courchevel 1850 is the highest and smartest. In a town known for its throng of five-star hotels, Les Airelles is one of only five awarded Palace status by France’s tourism ministry. While it’s in a great location with direct access to the slopes of Jardin Alpin, what distinguishes Les Airelles is its design – a whimsical melange of elaborately curved towers and balconies, and ornately painted exterior walls.
Les Airelles might look like a 19th-century Savoyard building, but it’s actually a concoction, built in the Nineties to mimic the grandeur of Austro-Hungarian castles. Inside there’s an abundance of dark wood, stained glass, hand-painted doors and walls, leather-bound books and velvet furnishings. Wooden chandeliers and log fires contribute to the winter palace feel. In a recent renovation, Paris-based Christophe Tollemer has updated the interiors without losing the sense of old world elegance.
Rooms and facilities
There are 47 rooms and suites, ranging from spacious to enormous. All feature wood-panelling, painted furniture and mosaic and marble bathrooms, but the illusion of a period building is enhanced by the fact that no two are exactly the same. The Classic rooms are charmingly cosy – ideal for a nanny or bodyguard (this is Courchevel 1850, after all). At the other end of the scale is the Apartment, a four-bedroom penthouse with its own roof terrace and spa.
Why stay here
Offering a complete contrast to the minimalist or chalet-chic interiors of many of Courchevel’s other five-stars, Les Airelles revels in its atmosphere of cocooning luxury. At Christmas, decorations are lavish and playful. Service – from a phalanx of staff in traditional Alpine clothing – is ultra attentive but unstuffy.
Food and drink
Central to the hotel is La Table de Airelles, which will dispel any buffet prejudices with its lavish breakfast, lunch and dinner line-ups. Carrara restaurant has a Tuscan bent, while Le Coin Savoyard majors in local specialities. Guests can also take advantage of three restaurants accessible from the slopes – Le Chalet de Pierres, La Folie Douce and Nama.
Spa and wellness credentials
The hotel’s spa includes a pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a sauna, steam room and snow cave (a bracing thermal experience) and offers tailor-made La Mer treatments.
Family-friendly and accessibility
There is enviably kitted out kids’ club, complete with a games arcade and cinema room, and an outdoor ice rink. Guests with disabilities can be accommodated in adapted rooms.
Courchevel might be known as a high-altitude playground for the rich, the famous or the Russian, but it’s always also attracted serious skiers. One of seven resorts in the Three Valleys, it has access to 600km of pistes. As our instructor Fabien Ravier, a leading light of the ESF ski school, pointed out proudly, this makes it the world’s largest ski area, with slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. But non-skiers have plenty to entertain them, too – from snowmobiling and snowshoeing to shopping.
New to Les Airelles this season are two palatial chalets offering guests the ultimate in privacy a stone’s throw from the hotel. With bedrooms for 12 to 15 guests, they are next-level luxurious with a swimming pool, gym, sauna, Japanese Iyashi Dome and treatment room, cinema and games room. Interiors feel warm, with tactile furnishings from the likes of Loro Piana and Holland & Sherry, but have a slightly more contemporary edge than those in the hotel.
Rooms at Les Airelles, Courchevel start at €1,700, half board. The chalets cost from €140,000 for seven nights, full board.
Article source: www.houseandgarden.co.uk