Cheval Blanc, Courchevel, France

Cheval Blanc, Courchevel, France

Looking for a blow-out getaway in the French Alps? Make this sumptuous, piste-side snow palace your next-level Trois Vallées base

the fir tree and wooden chalet-lined roads that lead to
the centre of the prestigious Courchevel 1850 resort, you could
almost be tricked into thinking that this is just another
chocolate-box ski town in the French Alps. Until, that is, you reach the
parade of designer boutiques whose names read like a guestlist for
the Met Gala. Fitting, considering that the piste-side pad we’re
staying in puts the “haute” in “haute demand”.

Situated at the foot of the slopes, with direct ski-in, ski-out access to Les Trois Vallées, LVMH’s
Cheval Blanc is one of the plushest snow palaces in the Alps. On our – chauffeur-driven, natch – approach, the
sun catches off the head of the mirrored Trojan Horse sculpture
designed by Bruno Peinado. It’s appropriate, given that the
building’s raclette-yellow exterior resembles that of a humble
wooden chalet, with the obligatory wood stacked outside, cutout
motifs on the balcony and timber-clad walls. Yet, inside, it opens
up into a haven of cashmere blankets, world-renowned art, Louis
Vuitton luggage-tag art and signature scents. Sidenote: for someone
who burns through Byredo candles quicker than people burn through
Bumble matches, we were obsessed. Crafted by the nose at Guerlain,
Thierry Wasser, it’s a heady mix of spice and woodfire and
absolutely should come home with you in miniature candle form.

Cheval Blanc, Courchevel, Exterior
Cheval Blanc, Courchevel, Exterior

Adventurers gear up for a day on the slopes, left, and the
hotel’s outdoor terrace.

Of course, being situated on the curve of the Jardin Alpin, a
scenic run that steers through woodland and other snow-tipped
five-star hotels, is testimony to Cheval Blanc’s top-notch skiing
credentials – all part of the maison’s allure. Les Trois Vallées’
600km of slopes, from cruisey blues to nail-biting black runs,
await just outside the boot room. Equal parts powder-puff pistes
and pomp, with a dollop of “Jesus Christ! There’s a hammam in my
room” thrown in for good measure, simplistic alpine abode this is


Expect a boudoir as sumptuous as your surroundings. Ours – one
of 36 – was decked out in swathes of sun-ripened orange with
splashes of flamboyant art: the Instagram-famous life-sized sheep
grazed at our bedside, bull-headed ice buckets glistened in the
corner, and an ostrich-feather floor lamp presided over the living
room. There are as many gasp-worthy moments as there are in-room
gadgets: a wall-embedded plasma-screen TV to watch from the
bathtub; chromotherapy lights in the shower-hammam; Japanese
derrière-warming toilets… The bleached-wood, custom-built wardrobes
had us swooning, and the walk-in-dressing room was the ideal
companion to our jam-packed Away carry on.

Cheval Blanc, Courchevel Snug
Cheval Blanc, Courchevel Dinner

A snug set-up, alongside a snapshot of a five-star

What’s for breakfast?

In keeping with the grandeur of the maison, breakfast is part
afternoon tea, part gourmet picnic and part tasting session at a
swanky food hall. Expect vitamin-packed juices to cleanse your
morning palette, followed by locally foraged berries with yoghurt,
topped off with lattes made with fresh-from-the-milking-parlour
milk (seriously) and wooden chopping boards piled high with flaky
pastries. A three-tier cake stand laden with delicate patisserie
that makes you go “ooh” is lorded around, as are granola bars
encrusted with gold flakes. Traditional hot breakfast options are
up next: eggs any way you like, fancy fry-ups and a lot of smashed
avocado – no gold flakes.

For a more relaxed start to the morning, guests can opt to have
breakfast in their room. Take it on your suite’s balcony – the
baby-soft robes are warm enough to swaddle in.

How about lunch and dinner?

Let’s skip straight to the main act, shall we? Staying at Cheval
Blanc without a dinner reservation at three-Michelin-starred Le
1947 à Cheval Blanc would be blasphemy. Directed by chef Yannick
Alléno, the restaurant cleverly waltzes between sci-fi and fairy
tale – as seen in the stark white tables set beneath ginormous
snow-white flying saucers (that function as an acoustic sound bath
that helps carry conversation between guests across the table), and
the tasting menu, which appears in a snow globe with
glitter-flecked water revealing the line-up of dishes. The
juxtaposition carries through to the food: Jackson Pollock-esque
plates representing a walk in the woods made up of over 30 elements
that take more than a year to gather; balls of yeast that rise
throughout dinner, before being whisked away to reveal smoky chunks
of brioche; crêpes suzette whipped up tableside. Watching the chefs
in the open kitchen dance around each other is like watching the
opening night at the ballet. The experience is hypnotic, theatrical
and utterly extravagant, which is what you want from a restaurant
that’s so highly decorated.

Slightly more low-key – emphasis on the “slightly” – is Le
Restaurant de Cheval Blanc Courchevel, a red-hued, all-day dining
space that serves hearty, expedition-fuelling mains. Think seared
slabs of wagyu, garlic-smothered scallops, and dauphinoise drowning
in cream sauce. All steak orders come with a chance to sniff out
your chosen steak knife based on which wood you’re most attracted

Is there a bar?

Leave the Jägerbombs at La Folie Douce; Le Bar is as suave as
they come, with its live piano music, grandpa-friendly Chesterfield
armchairs and an onyx fireplace that Daniel Craig could be propped
up against for his next Belvedere campaign. Nip across to La
Terrasse de Cheval Blanc – an al fresco suntrap ideal for lunchtime
dining or evening Aperols in spring – and you’ll find an authentic
Mongolian yurt housing a cigar fumoir. It’s all Havana browns, soft
fur blankets, lots of cashmere throws and dark wood.


The piste-level spa is the Galeries Lafayette of wellness
emporiums, with treatments crafted by the beauty gurus at Guerlain,
swimming pools overlooking the mountains, a Jacuzzi, chromotherapy
steam room and banya steam bath. Dare-to-bare guests slap
themselves (or others, consent required) with eucalyptus branches
in the sauna, before plunging into the snow bath. I just happened
to be washing my hair on this occasion.

The sprawling spa’s crown jewel? The Hair Room Service, crafted
by stylist-to-the-stars John Nollet. Less blow-dry and more
blow-out, the ritual starts with a soothing scalp massage, followed
by a flurry of lotions, potions and hair elixirs, before being
finished off with a pimped-out blow-dry. There’s a lot of teasing,
twisting and copious amounts of zhuzhing, but the end result is the
blow-dry you wish you’d had before taking your passport photo.

Elsewhere, the hotel also has a fully equipped gym with on-hand
personal trainers – who also double up as hiking and snowshoeing
guides – and swimming instructors, should you have any extra energy
leftover or fancy an alternative to whizzing down the slopes.

Cheval Blanc, Sauna
Cheval Blanc, Ski

The slope-facing sauna, left, and skis standing in the

What’s the crowd like?

Immaculately groomed families dressed head-to-toe in Fendi Ski –
bonus points if you spot someone on the Forbes list. The
interconnecting rooms, private chalet and exceptional kids’ club
make Cheval Blanc well-equipped to handle multi-generational
getaways and flamboyant family affairs.

Within a short walk I can find…

A Louis Vuitton pop-up boutique housed in a Mongolian yurt,
naturally. Aside from stocking this season’s latest designer
skiwear, it also doubles up as a delicious little coffee shop.
Before you scoff (at the price), allow us to reassure you: the
cakes – pistachio-filled choux buns, dark chocolate gateaux and
miniature lemon tarts – and coffee are complimentary, with no
four-figure bag purchase necessary.

Things I should know

In case you haven’t got the memo by now, this isn’t your
everyday ski lodge. If being pampered like monarchy isn’t your bag,
then we’d steer clear, as, aside from actually clocking up your
piste runs for you (which I’m sure they would if they could), there
is not a single whim, want or desire that’s not catered for here.
Case in point: our gently warmed ski boots slipped on for us before
we hit the slopes; the evening spa ritual in our drawn-for-us
bathtub, jazz music whirling softly through the essential
oil-scented air; the vintage Moët handed to us en route from spa to
sauna; the talking Japanese toilet. As far as future ski holidays
go, we fear it’s all downhill from here…

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £1,500 a night.

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