Just being in the mountains is an amazing experience, but where should you go in the Alps if you want a one a once-in-a-lifetime luxurious European skiing holiday? Well a good place to start would be the 13 best luxury ski resorts in Europe below.
Luxurious European skiing
Europe is head and shoulders above of the rest of the world when it comes to upmarket skiing. Of course you can still have a lavish ski holiday elsewhere. But the sheer weight of opulent options in Europe has lead to whole resorts becoming known as being luxurious.
The most exclusive chalets, best hotels, most Michelin starred restaurants, top champagne bars and boutique shops similar to Paris or Milan are located in ski resorts in Europe. Add to that the exceptional ski areas, and it’s clear luxurious European skiing holidays cater to discerning, deep pocketed skiers.
13 best luxury ski resorts in Europe
So if you have cash to burn, a ski itch to scratch and a love for the finer things in life, then Europe – and specifically the Alps – is the pace to go. But what resort should you choose? Lucky for you we have pulled together the 13 best luxury ski resorts in Europe:
Courchevel 1850, France
A favourite resort of Russian oligarchs, A-list celebrities and royals, Courchevel hits the headlines for its exorbitant alpine luxury. No ski resort has as many six-star “palace” rated hotels or Michelin starred restaurants as Courchevel, which takes luxurious European skiing to another level.
You’d struggle to find anywhere that ships in as many wines and champagnes by the Jeroboam, has flagship fashion stores and its own airport for private jets. These extravagant offerings have given Courchevel 1850 a reputation as a place to shop, dine, see and be seen.
And hit the slopes if you fancy it. But you’d be massively missing out if you didn’t ski or snowboard while you’re here. Heated pavements, personal shoppers and supercars scale into insignificance when you’re in the biggest linked ski area in the world. If you ask us, access to the 600 km Three Valleys is the greatest luxury of all.
Saint Moritz, Switzerland
Saint Moritz basked in the spotlight during the Golden Age of Hollywood. In the day it became the bolthole of stars like Charlie Chaplain and Audrey Hepburn. And it still attracts the rich and famous today making it one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe.
Located in the beautiful Engadine Valley, an area of lakes, mountains and forests. Plus, grand hotels such as the infamous five-star Kulm Hotel.
Saint Moritz is also home to the exclusive St. Moritz Tobogganing Club. It has the highest shopping avenue in Europe, it’s own airport and 5 Michelin starred restaurants.
Credited as the place that started alpine winter tourism, Saint Moritz was also the first place in Switzerland to get electric lighting. It’s a two times Olympic host, and takes winter sports seriously.
In St Moritz you can try everything from snow polo to skijoring and snowkiting to bobsleigh. And the skiing is pretty amazing with 350 km of piste as your playground. There are four ski areas, with a range of terrain for every level and heights up to 3,303 m.
At the turn of the 1920s, the Rothschild family spotted a gap in the market for a French resort like Saint Moritz. A pretty 13th century village was selected, construction of Parisian style buildings began and before long the aristocracy had become regulars.
Still under Rothschild rule, the resort has high-class boutiques, 6 Michelin stars across 3 restaurants and some spectacular five-star hotels. Suites start from €8,470 a night in the new Four Seasons Hotel – now that’s luxurious European skiing!
Megeve also hosts upmarket events such as the International Jazz Festival at the end of each season. 2018’s headliners including Norah Jones and Gregory Porter.
As I found when I visited in 2015, Megeve feels very inclusive in its exclusivity and there’s more to it than glamour. With 325 km of piste there is something for everyone. Most people stick to the plentiful easier runs, which leaves extensive freeride opportunity for more advanced visitors.
Zermatt is superior to other European resorts in many ways. The attractiveness of its village, awesomeness of its scenery, freshness of its air, richness of its history and even the concentration of its gourmet restaurants.
Luxury is no exception. With 5 five-star hotels, two Michelin starred restaurants and mega chalets housing swimming pools and wellness centres. Zermatt is easily one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe.
First class finesse can also be found on the 360 km of piste and endless freeride terrain, which crosses the border to Italy beneath the mighty Matterhorn mountain. The ski area reaches 3,899 m on the glacier, and 25 km of it (including a world-class snowpark) is snow sure enough to stay open in the summer months.
It’s also one of the top destinations for heli-skiing/boarding in Europe. Which is one of the most incredible alpine experiences money can buy.
From future kings to stars of reality TV, it seems that anyone who’s anyone has been to Verbier. Property owners include the Duchess of York, Richard Branson and James Blunt, who like Diana Ross, has a ski lift named after him.
The thing to do here is party. Farm Club in Hotel Nevai is the location, and magnums of champagne and vodka are the libations. VIP partying is the way to go, making Verbier one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe for those wanting a crazy time off the slopes.
But Verbier is as serious about snow as it is parties. The upmarket resort sits in the extensive 4 Valleys ski area which has some of the greatest off-piste terrain in the world. Private guides can be enlisted to lead you to the best of it, and if you want to splash out you can book one with a helicopter for some heli-skiing.
Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Austria
Known as the cradle of Alpine skiing, the Lech-Zürs locals first used skis during snowy winters over 130 years ago. The resort is still at the forefront of winter travel, with 7 five-star hotels in Lech, 4 in Zürs and some of Europe’s most glamorous chalets in the satellite villages of Stubenbach and Oberlech.
The scenic and chic town centre has designer clothes shops, jewellers, patisseries, gourmet restaurants and wine bars. Royals and celebrities are regular visitors for a spot of Luxurious European skiing.
Recently lift linked to St Anton, the surrounding ski area is incredible. It covers 305 km of runs (and the local offerings are forgivingly wide and immaculately groomed), with 200 km of marked freeride routes on top of that. It also includes the legendary White Ring circuit.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Since it got global recognition for hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics, Cortina d’Ampezzo has been widely known as Italy’s most prestigious place to ski. The Corso Italia, a road that runs through the centre of the resort, is a hub of fashion shops, Ferrari’s and wine bars frequented by wealthy Europeans.
The pretty resort centre and awesome Dolomite landscape have attracted many celebrities and film-makers over the decades. With the historic Miramonti Majestic Grand Hotel being the chosen residence of Brigitte Bardot, Elvis Presley and 007 (For Your Eyes Only).
There are 3 local ski areas with Olympic and World Cup facilities, and you can also access the 1,200 km Dolomiti Superski region. The runs are incredibly scenic with giant outcrops of Dolomite rock, and are usually quieter than the big ski areas in France.
Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere is one of the only resorts in the French Alps that has both a high base altitude and picturesque Alpine architecture. Which has lead to it becoming a hub for luxurious European skiing.
Hot on the heels of Courchevel, the resort has 6 five-star hotels and some of the world’s flashiest private chalets. It’s also the birthplace of the famous Folie Douce which has a reputation for extravagant parties and spraying champagne.
Val D’isere shares 300 km of runs with Tignes. Expect dramatic off-piste, skiable glaciers and the famous La Face run from the 1992 Winter Olympics. Val’s skiing and snowboarding is exciting, challenging and hard to beat – just like it’s nightlife.
If the five star hotels are out of your price range you can still visit one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe. For example, the catered ski chalets by Ski Bonjour are affordable and make for great skiing and snowboarding holidays in Val d’Isere.
A rural resort, rich in luxuries, Gstaad boasts classic wood farmhouses and clusters of pines overlooked by the legendary Palace Hotel. The Ritz of the Alps, it has hosted the biggest names in music, film, politics and fashion and its opulent New Year’s Eve party costs over a grand a ticket.
Gstaad is also famous for its designer shops that help it rank as one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe. Furthermore, it’s the home of Le Rosey Boarding school, the ‘School of Kings’ is the most expensive in the world.
The ski area often blends into the background with these extravagant claims, but it shouldn’t. With 200 km of terrain that reaches up to 3,000 m there is great skiing. Including Bernese Oberland’s only glacier and a set of fun parks which are the icing on the cake in this top resort for luxurious European skiing.
Flims is a pretty village located in UNESCO world heritage area. The town has spectacular hotels, including the infamous, 140 year old Grand Hotel by Waldhaus. It is a five star spa hotel within stunning grounds that provides decadence and gastronomic delights for its guests.
As part of the Laax ski area there are 224km of slopes to explore. These include one of the best snow parks in Europe and plenty of pistes for all level of skier and snowboarder. In Flims you can expect luxurious European skiing on the slopes as well as off them.
And it’s not just the hotels that scream opulence in Flims. There are some incredible chalets and many rich people own property here. If you would like to join the ranks and have a spare million or two then check out the ski properties for sale in Flims.
If you like to party, but want to do so in style, then Ischgl is the place to be. The nightlife is wild, and if you have cash to splash you can get some seriously VIP treatment. The restaurants are also fabulous, hosting Austrian Chef of the year, Young chef of the year and many other accolades.
The level of accommodation is fantastic. There are three five star hotels, including Trofana Royal five star superior. There are also ten four star superior hotels, most of which only miss out on five star status due to technicalities such as size of lifts.
With 238 km of slopes that stretch across into Switzerland there is plenty to keep you on the snow. The season runs from November to May and is the longest of any European ski area without a glacier. Making Ischgl one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe for early or late season skiing.
One of the biggest luxuries in Ischgl is it’s incredible lift system. They spend tens of millions almost every year upgrading lifts to be the best in Europe. Expect fast uplift, heated seats and wifi meaning even those on a cheaper holiday get a slice of luxurious European skiing holidays.
Furthermore, Ischgl opens and closes each season with huge concerts. Acts that have been attracted to Ischgl include Sir Elton John, Kylie, Muse, James Blunt, Robbie Williams and many other big names.
Ortisei, Val Gardena, Italy
Located in the stunning Val Gardena area of the UNESCO world heritage Dolomite Mountains, it’s safe to say the views in Ortisei are spectacular. The town is also very pretty, with quaint streets lined with expensive boutiques and galleries featuring work by local artists.
The crowning jewel of Ortisei is the five star Adler Dolomiti Spa Hotel. It is not just an oppulent hotel but by far the best place I have been lucky enough to stay. The nightly seven course meal was incredible and the spa is just out of this world, making Ortisei one of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe.
The ski area is not bad either. Accessing the vast Dolomiti Superski area there are 1200 km of ski slopes to explore. This includes the world famous Sella Ronda, the largest ski circuit on the planet. Be sure to book the VIP car on the heated Piz Setëur Cable car to travel to the peak in style.
There aren’t set standards for skiing luxury, and unlike other resorts on this list, Klosters opts for the discreet, low-key approach. It’s not about being ‘papped’ or people watching, but enjoying the skiing.
The local’s knack of greeting you the same whether you’re heir to a throne or mere mortal is part of the draw. This has led to a loyal following of household names who want to blend into the landscape and enjoy luxurious European skiing holidays in Klosters.
The resort is not one to brag about its visitors. But it’s a well-known that Prince Charles is a fan. So much so that he celebrated 40 years of skiing in Klosters in 2018 with a party and the ski lifts decorated in his honour.
I can’t blame the future king for returning when there’s a 300 km ski area to explore. There are excellent beginner areas, long groomed runs, huge powder fields and the “decelerated” ski resort of Schatzalp-Strela, where the pace is strictly slow and steady.
So, now you have the 13 of the best luxury ski resorts in Europe. All you need to do now is select your favourite, find the money, and have the ski trip of a lifetime! And if the luxury is all a bit much for you or your budget then check out the top 100 European ski areas.
If you fancy a spot of luxurious European skiing and enjoyed our article about the 13 best luxury ski resorts in Europe then check out our article about the best luxury chalets in the Alps.