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Best ski resorts for mountain restaurants

by Richard Visick, 20th September 2015

For many of us the ski holiday experience would not be complete without the opportunity to indulge in a long lunch in a rustic mountain hut in front of a roaring log fire, or on a sun-drenched terrace surrounded by glorious Alpine scenery.

 

Luckily there are many resorts suited to those for whom a lunchtime treat is an integral part of a day on the slopes. Here is our pick of the top 5...

1. Zermatt, Switzerland

Widely acknowledged to be the mountain restaurant capital of the Alps, Zermatt offers an enormous choice of on-slope eateries, the standards of which are exceptionally high.

 

So numerous are the options, that the local tourist office produces a mountain restaurant directory, a copy of which is well worth getting your hands on so you can plan your skiing around your lunch stops. Due to the popularity of a long lunch under the gaze of the Matterhorn, it is always best to book in advance - don’t count on just turning up and finding a free table!

 

One of our favourite lunchtime stops in Zermatt is Chez Vrony in the rustic hamlet of Findeln. The service here is reliably friendly and the food excellent, and you can easily spend a whole afternoon admiring the views from the comfort of your sofa on its huge south-facing terrace.

 

Fluhalp is another fabulous choice with a vibrant sun terrace (often with live music) and high quality food. You could also try Zum See, below Furi, which is a charming rustic hut and home to one of the most talented chefs in Zermatt.

7 nights at the Hotel Perren from £845pp

(including flights, transfers, B&B)

 

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2. Megève, France

Megève is one of France’s smartest and most charming ski resorts. The pretty, medieval town is home to some very swanky hotels, although there are plenty of more modestly priced alternatives. Equally, the extensive ski area has an excellent choice of captivating mountain restaurants, with something to suit most budgets - from the chic, expensive and gourmet to more laid-back, self-service options.

 

One of our favourites is La Ravière, a tiny rustic hut tucked away in the woods near the Croix chairlift on the Mont d’Arbois side of the ski area. Although there is only a small choice of dishes on its menu, the food is unerringly excellent and pre-booking is essential.

 

The infamous Folie Douce (already an institution in Val d’Isère, Méribel, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez), opened its doors in Megève at the beginning of the 2014-15 ski season. Its gourmet restaurant La Fruitière serves gorgeous Savoyarde delicacies, while the Folie Douce itself makes do with a lighter menu and the now legendary après-ski parties featuring live bands and DJs.

7 nights at the Hotel Grange d'Arly from £790pp

(including flights, transfers, B&B)

 

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3. Courmayeur, Italy

Courmayeur, Italy - Best ski resorts for mountain restaurants Le Petit Mont Blanc, Courmayeur

If you are looking to book a ski weekend with an emphasis on excellent lunchtime pit stops, Courmayeur could be your first choice destination. With convenient transfers, excellent value for money and some of the best mountain restaurants in Italy, it should be on every ski gourmet’s wish list.

 

With almost as many good mountain restaurants as there are pistes, Courmayeur is an ideal place to combine a hard morning’s ski with a long, relaxing lunch - perhaps enjoying a plate of antipasti, or some fresh homemade pasta.

 

A favourite with locals and visitors alike is Chiecco, by the main lifts at Plan Checrouit. This welcoming little hut has a very varied menu, which includes a fantastic wild boar stew and legendary tiramisu. Nearby, the excellent Christiania has both a relaxed pizzeria and a more formal restaurant (booking recommended).

 

Higher up the mountain is the lively Rifugio Maison Vieille (near the top of the chairlift of the same name). This cosy little restaurant has a lovely wood-burning stove, but it really comes into its own on sunny days when the huge terrace, complete with outdoor grill, comes alive with live music.

 

Another good choice for sun worshippers is Le Petit Mont Blanc. Situated at the bottom of the long run down to Zerotta, in the Val Veny, it has a large terrace with stunning views of Mont Blanc, and is an ideal place to while away an afternoon over a cool beer and a juicy steak.

3 nights at the Hotel Berthod from £495pp

(including flights, transfers, B&B)

 

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4. Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy - Best ski resorts for mountain restaurants Rifugio Averau, Cortina d'Ampezzo

Cortina d'Ampezzo is Italy’s most fashionable ski resort, and many people staying here take their lunching (and their après-ski) as seriously as their skiing. Set amid the jaw-dropping scenery of the Dolomite mountains, this is the perfect place to spend a long lunch, mesmerised by both the views and the food.

 

The resort offers a vast choice of lunchtime venues serving fine Italian cuisine. Rifugio Averau stands out in its precarious position on a limestone ledge in Cortina’s Cinque Torri ski area. On sunny days its terrace is packed, but when the weather closes in, diners sit at wooden tables in its cosy panelled dining room.

 

Further afield, the Alta Badia ski area (covered on the Dolomiti Superski lift pass) has developed a ‘gourmet ski tour’. Chefs from the top local establishments have worked with mountain restaurants to produce menus of local appetisers and ‘finger food’, and encourage skiers to travel from one mountain hut to the next, enjoying a glass of schnapps and a delicious snack in each one along their way.

7 nights at the Hotel Ancora from £995pp

(including flights, transfers, B&B)

 

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5. Baqueira Beret, Spain

Baqueira Beret - Best ski resorts for mountain restaurants Cinco Jotas (5J Grill), Baqueira

A ski trip to Spain requires an adjustment to the daily routine if you want to fit in with the local culture. The days start and end later than we are used to, and Spanish skiers tend to ski hard (from 10am to 3pm) before stopping for a late, long and leisurely lunch.

 

Fortunately, there are many excellent mountain restaurants on the slopes above Baqueira Beret, where you can enjoy the local Aranese cuisine, with its strong Basque, Catalan and Spanish influences. Tapas may generally be associated with sun, sea and sand, but you will find here that ‘pintxo’ (the Basque version of tapas) works equally well with snow and skiing.

 

El Refugi San Miguel is one of the best venues to sample tapas in the snow, while 5J Grill serves huge steaks and the best Iberian ham, and has a lovely terrace. For something a bit more sophisticated, the Moët Winter Lounge has comfortable sofas and a roaring log fire, where tapas are washed down with Champagne rather than Spanish lager.

7 nights at the Hotel Val de Ruda from £1165pp

(including flights, transfers, B&B)

 

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