Luxury ski resorts in Europe provide a winter playground for those in the know, as well as the rich and famous. If you want to join them, this guide to the top luxury ski resorts of Europe has you covered.
Perhaps you hanker after post-piste partying at the finest luxury ski resorts in France. Maybe you’d like to find a traditional Austrian village with reliable snowfall or want to sample luxury ski in Switzerland. Skiing in Europe provides luxury and adventure in abundance. This list comprises a dozen of the most exclusive ski resorts in Europe.
Luxury ski resorts in Austria
Arguably the smartest of all luxury ski resorts in Austria, sunny Lech is known for lots of fine, powdery snow and top quality accommodation, as well as established gourmet dining and après ski scenes.
Lech is also a great resort for those new to powder skiing, as the slopes are less steep than in other Arlberg resorts. The majority of Lech’s slopes are wonderfully broad and smooth, making them ideal for beginner skiers. Should you tire of those, the modern local ski lift network can rapidly transport you to more challenging terrain.
The village centre is packed with stylish hotels, refined eateries and elegant après ski bars. It’s no wonder that it’s favoured by celebrities and even royalty. Despite this, Lech retains an authentic, local feel, thanks to the presence of traditional wooden chalets and an ancient church.
With reliable levels of snowfall, Lech is a dedicated skier’s dream destination. Other highlights of this Austrian ski resort include 25 miles of winter hiking trails, sleigh rides through the frosty landscape and the chic Strolz champagne bar.
As luxury ski destinations in Europe go, snowy St Anton is often favoured by those seeking more challenging terrain. This part of the Arlberg area is famed for vast snowfields and a Tyrolean style village centre that thrums with life after dark.
There’s a clutch of luxurious hotels close to the Galzig gondola for those seeking a decadent stay. Or try the Nasserein area for more relaxed accommodation options.
St Anton is often populated by experienced skiers during the winter season, and the resort packs in close to 200 miles’ worth of slopes. The Run of Fame is a big draw here: this 40 mile route ends on the other side of the Arlberg in Warth-Schröcken.
As an Austrian village, St Anton is abundant in charm and character. Despite the traditional look lent to the resort by a domed church and wooden chalets, by night the main street is buzzing thanks to the après ski pubs and bars alive with the animated chatter of guests from all over the globe.
Away from the slopes, St Anton has a sports park with climbing walls, a bowling alley and tennis courts, and of course a sports bar for post-piste socialising.
Luxury ski resorts in France
Home to around 375 miles’ worth of linked and varied skiing terrain, Couchevel forms part of the Three Valleys winter sports region. This smart collection of four villages also counts Michelin-starred dining, deluxe spa facilities and stylish boutiques among its attractions.
The ski area here has the ideal blue or green run for everyone, plus both open routes and slopes dotted with trees. This north-facing region also boasts an impressive snowfall record.
Dining out is de rigueur in Courchevel. There are seven Michelin-starred restaurants shared between Courchevel, Le Praz, Courchevel Moriond and Courchevel Village. By day, the abundance of smart stores here could mean you max out your plastic.
Courchevel is also home to a state-of-the-art spa, swimming and wellness centre. Or you can sample a new activity like paragliding or ice climbing during your stay.
Close to the Swiss and Italian borders in south east France is Megève. It’s a ski resort with its very own airport. Despite being established during the 1920s as a haunt for the rich and famous, it’s a relatively laid-back and affordable resort that remains something of a snow-clad secret.
Peak periods aside, Megève is a peaceful spot. Skiers can make the most of Mont Blanc views while traversing the spacious slopes. There are routes for both beginners or more advanced skiers and snowboarders.
While off-piste, guests can explore the town’s throng of mostly upmarket retail outlets. Alternatively, spend time trying other sports such as climbing, bowling, tennis, swimming or ice skating. A couple of restaurants boast multiple Michelin stars, and there are also more family-friendly pizza, pasta and fondue places.
As this resort sprawls somewhat, do check the location of the closest lift before booking into the town’s multitude of self-catering apartments and chalets.
If you want to party until the sun comes up before tackling some adrenaline-inducing off-piste areas, Val D’Isere could be the French ski resort for you. It’s also a great place for gourmets, with everything from regional specialities to Michelin-starred restaurants on offer.
For rookies there’s a range of green routes, or you can try the blues in neighbouring Tignes. Back in Val D’Isere, lengthier blues and thrilling reds pose a challenge for more confident skiers. Due to the elevation, a good covering of the white stuff is more-or-less a given.
With an upmarket reputation, there’s no shortage of five star establishments here, both in terms of dining and accommodation. There are more traditional options too though, so you can sample local food or find somewhere more pocket-friendly to lay your head if you like.
Off the pistes, visitors can try fatbiking, ice driving, tubing or ice climbing. All before dancing the night away in the resort’s convivial après ski venues.
Meribel lies at the heart of the Three Valleys ski region. Discover routes for everyone, from rookies to advanced skiers. With a traditional mountain village feel and lively post-piste bars, Meribel is one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe, let alone France.
One of the highlights of Meribel is its modern, seamless ski lift system. Rapid chairlifts and gondola rides meaning that experienced skiers can notch up as many miles as possible. The resort’s proximity to nearby Courchevel and Val Thoren is also a bonus.
As an energetic and physically demanding activity, skiing’s guaranteed to make tummies rumble. Luckily, Meribel has stacks of refuelling options. From hearty pub classics to authentic local cuisine or crowd pleasers like crêpes, there’s an eatery here for every kind of diner.
A multitude of winter sports options awaits those who want to try something new, including dog sledding, horse trekking, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. This is precisely why the World Snow Awards regularly crown Meribel as their Family Resort of the Year.
Luxury ski resorts in Italy
Ski, dine and party Italian style at Cortina d’Ampezzo, aka the Queen of the Dolomites. Some of the most historic runs in the world can be found here, alongside a top notch post-piste party scene. That’s why, of all the luxury ski resorts in Italy, we had to include Cortina d’Ampezzo here.
A combination of nursery areas, placid blue slopes and more arduous red and black runs mean Cortina d’Ampezzo suits all levels of skier. All share an incredibly picturesque and photogenic setting, flanked by tall evergreens and the peaks of the Dolomites.
Italians like to hit Cortina d’Ampezzo for its social scene. So come the weekend the place can be packed with stylish, well-heeled folk from the likes of Rome and Milan. Despite this Cortina d’Ampezzo is a place where family-run trattorias rub shoulders with opulent five-star hotels.
Visitors can also go bear-spotting at Ampezzo Nature Reserve. Or browse a mixed range of around 300 shops, stocking everything from local art or handmade jewellery to the latest sportswear and fashion must-haves.
Luxury ski resorts in Switzerland
Some of Verbier’s terrain is not for the faint-hearted, making for a truly electrifying holiday that should satisfy even the most committed thrill-seekers.
Add to that upmarket accommodation, Alpine vistas and a thriving social scene, and you can see why this is the pick of luxury Switzerland ski resorts for seasoned experts.
That’s not to say mixed groups can’t visit. There are plenty of intermediate level slopes and even nursery areas too. Those who come for the après ski scene are also in heaven here. The party often starts during early evening and doesn’t wind down until daybreak.
This large, sun-drenched Alpine village has lots going for it. Namely world-class advanced ski runs, top class nightlife and a range of luxurious accommodation. Just don’t head here alone if you plan to ski Verbier’s steeper itineraries. Although routes are marked, they are not maintained and there is no avalanche patrol in place.
When it comes to luxury ski resorts in Switzerland, glitzy St Moritz is hard to beat. It was the first place to put Alpine winter tourism on the map back in the mid 19th century. It’s now a sunny resort town with spectacular scenery and over 200 miles of ski routes.
The name St Moritz originally became known for another reason – its network of natural springs that were first identified several thousand years ago. It has also hosted the Winter Olympics twice.
St Moritz is famous for its refined dining options, thriving arts scene and prestigious hotels. Due to its lakeside position, it is a popular area with watersports enthusiasts, who come to sail, windsurf or row on the glassy waters.
This glamorous Swiss resort retains an old-world charm in parts. Think tinkling pianos, heavy furniture and glittering chandeliers – yet has often been ahead of its time. Not surprisingly, one of Switzerland’s first ski lifts was built here. It was also one of the first places to be illuminated by electricity.
Known as a favourite with British royalty, Klosters is a quiet and unspoiled Swiss village set in the valley with a backdrop of soaring, granite-hued peaks. Pretty views are around every corner, whether you prefer to feast your eyes on placid lakes, tumbling waterfalls or lush Alpine meadows.
A variety of terrain makes Klosters a top pick among skiers and snowboarders alike, whether they’re beginners or seasoned pros. Along with nearby Davos, the local routes stretch for some 150 miles.
There are plenty of activities even for non-skiers too. These include winter hiking trails, snowshoeing, tobogganing or a horse-drawn sled ride. In fact, the rocky, forested trails and herb garden help to ensure Klosters’ year-round popularity.
As a traditional Graubünden village and a ski resort, Klosters offers tranquillity, beauty, and perhaps even the chance to rub shoulders with the heir apparent.
Glamorous Gstaad possesses a paradisiacal beauty. As well as being one of the most luxurious ski resorts in Europe, it is also home to one of Switzerland’s finest hotels, the classic and ever-popular Gstaad Palace.
With five distinct ski areas linked by a public transport network that’s a model of Swiss efficiency. Gstaad offers a mix of smooth, broad slopes for beginners and more challenging wooded runs for more seasoned skiers.
This classic Alpine village has blossomed in recent times, and is now popular with celebrities from all over the world who come for the gourmet eateries, lavish hotels, upmarket shops and swanky accommodation, as well as the pistes and unparalleled panoramas.
Fairy-lit chalets and the castle that looms over the village give Gstaad a magical feel. Wandering the car-free streets each evening is one of the simpler pleasures of this captivating resort.
Also pedestrianised and traffic-free, Zermatt enjoys a spectacular setting at the foot of some seriously impressive Swiss mountains and glaciers – not least the mighty Matterhorn.
There’s a great range of accommodation in Zermatt, plus a seamless network of over 50 mountain trains and a multitude of cable cars to transport you among the peaks. Ski teams from all over the planet train here during summer, as this is the most elevated of all luxury ski resorts in Europe.
From traditional mule merchants’ trails to the renowned Haute Route that takes a number of days to complete, Zermatt is favoured by serious skiers – from dedicated freestylers to those with their eyes on an Olympic prize.
Don’t miss a trip on the cog railway during your stay. It takes you to an elevation of over 3,000 metres, with once-in-a-lifetime views over the Monte-Rosa massif as well as the glaciers and Matterhorn.