The thing I love most about going skiing is staying in a wooden decked chalet, eating cheese (to excess, of course) and sitting on my balcony taking in the breathtaking views…So when I was asked to review the W Hotel in Verbier, it was with some trepidation. Would this urban chic hotel chain live up to my expectations of what a ski hotel should offer? I mean, a W Hotel in Barcelona is one thing, but to transport it to the mountains? I wasn’t so sure.
The very fact the resort has remodeled the piste to make the W Hotel ski in ski out, tells you that this place is something pretty special. Just metres from the main gondola at Médran, the hotel is part of a development including shops and restaurants built around the newly created Place Blanche.
Everything about it is impressive. The rooms are spacious and modern, with huge comfy beds, a gas fire linking through to the equally huge bathroom, which houses a bath big enough for two and a separate shower room. The sound and lighting system is also a high tech affair. If I had to criticise, my room faced out on to a wooden fence below a road, hardly the mountain views you’d expect for £305 a night. But, there’s a lot of good things to say about the W Hotel. There are gorgeous views from the swing bubble chairs on the balcony and the vast windows in the lounge and cocktail bar. Perfect for a post ski aperitif, and the cocktail and tapas menus are to die for.
If you’re in no hurry to hit the hotel bar then they’ve also opened a pop up bar at the bottom of the Place Blanche where you can enjoy an après ski aperitif to the sounds of the hotel’s resident DJ. Because nothing’s too much trouble at the W, the concierge service will relieve you of your skis so you can hit the town ski free for the night. They’ll even bring your snow boots along too if you ask nicely.
If convenience is your thing, then this place is great, you can book everything here, ski lessons, heli-skiing and guiding, their motto is anything is possible – provided it’s legal, of course. If you’re rich enough you can even hire out their main suite and import your own furniture into it for the weekend, just in case the hotel’s tastes aren’t to your liking! If boozy après isn’t your thing, then check out the spa, which has nine treatment rooms and an indoor and outdoor pool.
The hotel has two eateries; the main Arola restaurant and the Eat-Hola tapas bar reflect the Catalan origins of the culinary director, Sergi Arola (two Michelin stars). Plates are for sharing; the cuisine, from reinvented Spanish classics to Swiss dishes highlighting local suppliers, is superb. However, with dishes typically costing around CHF 30, you will not want to carb load here. The breakfast is also a real treat with omelettes and eggs cooked to order and a jaw droppingly good supply of pastries and doughnuts – which you can burn off on the slopes later of course!
It’s tempting to never leave the W Hotel, but after one night there, we were ready to see what the slopes had to offer. Verbier classifies its pistes as 43 per cent easy, 29 per cent intermediate and 28 per cent advanced, but the resort is best suited to confident, adventurous skiers and boarders. The resort’s ice-cream-scoop of a mountain bowl is perfectly oriented to the south, so virtually the whole resort enjoys sunshine all day, as well as views towards the glaciated peaks along the French and Italian borders.
Restaurant-wise, you’re spoilt for choice in Verbier, but our favourite lunch stop has to be the Cabane Mont-Fort, which sits just off the Col des Gentianes run, serving traditional mountain foods with stunning views. After skiing there’s only one place we’d head and that’s the Farinet, in Place Central which hosts the most notorious après ski in Verbier. There are live bands and DJs here most days.
When we were all aprés-ed out, we made our way to our second residence of the holiday, Le Cordeé des Alpes, this hotel has a luxury spa and restaurant and rooms range from comfort, to prestige suites and apartments. With far reaching views of the mountains and shabby chic interiors, this place felt far more like a ski residence than the W Hotel, and at least I could turn the lights off when I fell into bed at night! That said, each hotel has its own charms and both are a great addition to a resort, which I thought had everything.
- The W Verbier< http://www.wverbier.com/ > opened on 1st December 2013, becoming the first alpine and ski retreat from W Hotels. Situated in four adjacent chalets just below the main Gondola to the slopes, W Verbier offers 123 guest rooms and suites. The hotel features its signature AWAY Spa, the Off Piste après ski bar and the hotel’s signature, W Arola restaurant in collaboration with two-Michelin-star Spanish Chef Sergi Arola. Prices for one night’s stay at the W Hotel start £305 per room. For more information, visit www.wverbier.com, or call +41 (0) 2747 288 88 .
- La Cordée des Alpes is a 5* hotel situated within a hundred meters of the main shops and restaurants in the resort, with prices starting at £260 per night. For more information, visit www.hotelcordee.com , or call +41 (0) 27 775 45 45 .
- Lift Passes for the Verbier and 4 Valleys ski area start from £240 for 6 days, concession prices available, for more information, visit www.verbier.ch
- At the beginning of this winter season, the new Gondola travelling between Le Châble to Les Mayens de Bruson in eight minutes, opened. The Bruson ski area is included in a Verbier Local lift pass and features 44km of tree lined pistes.
- Ecole Suisse De Ski De Verbier, provide instructors for group and private lessons, as well as mountain guides. A two hour private lesson starts at £130 for up to 2 people, or £170 for up to 4 people. For more information, visitwww.esecure.ch or call +41 27 775 33 63 .
- Mountain Air provide top of the range equipment in Verbier. Six days skis/snowboard rental starts from £90, and six day boot rental starts from £52. Concession prices and other equipment is available. For more information visit www.mountainairverbier.com or call +41 (0) 2777 544 00 .
- Cabane Mont-Fort sits just off the Col des Gentianes run, serving traditional mountain foods with stunning views. For more information, visitwww.cabanemontfort.ch or call +41 27 778 13 84 .
- The Hotel Farinet hosts the most notorious après ski in Verbier, situated in Place Central, complete with opening roof. For more information, visitwww.hotelfarinet.com or call +41 27 771 66 26 .
- Le Rouge Restaurant & Club is situated at the end of the gentle Le Rouge ski run, for more information, visit www.lerouge-verbier.com or call +41 27 771 80 00 .
- Swiss rail passes were provided by the Swiss Tourist Board, for more information, visit www.myswitzerland.com
- Swiss International Airline offer return flights from London to Geneva starting from £85. For more information, visit www.swiss.com
- Taxi Carron operate taxis and transfers in and around the Verbier area. For more information, visit www.taxi-carron.ch or call +41 27 776 2829 .
- For more information on the Verbier area, visit www.verbier.ch