Chalet, self catered apartment, chalet hotel? There’s a whole range of accommodation options. Here’s a handy guide to picking the right ski accommodation for you by our skiing expert Nicky Holford
Take your pick from ‘budget’, which could be a basic room with a shared bathroom, to ‘luxury’ which could include butlers and chauffeurs, a Jacuzzi or swimming pool, virtual valet service and five course meals. You can either share or take over the entire chalet. All-inclusive chalet hotels can be good value and will usually discount if you are getting to the Alps by car. Catered chalets are great if you want to meet people as the concept, no matter what the price, is about dinner and breakfast around a big table. Some chalets exclude children, others have child-free weeks and weeks for children. Most family-orientated chalets include a nanny service and full childcare.
Ski resorts have been slow to move with the times when it comes to spas and wellness centres, but now all the top hotels are likely to offer the full spa with hot tubs, gym and sometimes a swimming pool. In the large resorts you will find a great choice ranging from simple, cosy but basic, to chains such as the Great Western (which in Chamonix has the excellent Four Star Le Morgane) to full Five Star luxury. For singles, hotels often work out cheaper for a single room if you don’t have to pay a supplement. Some hotels in prime resorts at peak times will still insist on a 7-night booking but the great advantage of most hotels is that you can stay when you want. Then there is always room service which can come in handy after a long day on the slopes.
Good quality B&Bs can be cheaper and often have nicer rooms and a more conducive atmosphere than some standard hotels. Most tourist offices have a comprehensive list online of approved B&Bs in ski resorts. Alastair Sawday has several tempting chalets and B&Bs within 5-8 kilometres from resorts.
Self-catering apartments with six people squeezed into a studio, used to be the ultimate budget option for ski holidays. Things have changed, especially in France where apartments used to be tiny. New apartments here have dishwashers, saunas, shared access to a pool and gym, so they’re great for families. Nothing gives you as much freedom; you can eat whenever you want, walk about in slippers and tracksuits, stay in or go out. Pierre et Vacances Premium, Lagrande Prestige and MGM are a few to check out where you can find everything from a studio to a 10 person chalet-style apartment. For the more expensive apartments a full range of services is optional including room service and cleaning and nannies or babysitters.
Many of the international resorts have student accommodation, which often includes discounted lift tickets. The Chamonix Youth Hostel is located at the bottom of the Bossons glacier and the one at Zermatt has rooms with views of the Matterhorn. Not bad for a basic rate of £17 a night.
If you are looking for an adventure to make your ski holiday, there are many refuges on the mountain where you can stay. Some of these can be quite basic with several guests sharing a dormitory. My favourite is the Rifugio Guglielmina at 2880 metres in the Monterosa ski area. It’s far from basic, having double rooms, heating and an excellent wine list and WI-FI. It's a magical setting for sunsets and blissfully quiet when the generator cuts out. For a list of accessible refuges that are open in winter contact the resort tourist office.
Looking for more accommodation information? Read Nicky’s handy guide to ski chalets
P&O Ferries Ski Expert
The Guardian's wintersports correspondent from 1999-2005, Nicky is now the regular ski writer for The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and ski magazines Daily Mail Ski and Snowboard, and Ski and Board, the magazine of the Ski Club of Great Britain. Her first memories of skiing holidays are sitting on the shoulders of her parents’ ski guide as he zoomed down the slopes - she was just five years old. Her favourite resorts are Chamonix, where she once fell into a crevasse, St Anton where she learned to dance in skiboots and Aspen for its awesome powder snow.