Felix Milns finds a fairytale family retreat in Courchevel’s Les Airelles,
Review: Les Airelles, Courchevel
With its snow-capped fairytale turrets and hand-painted slope-side balconies, Les Airelles is a glorious splash of unashamed Austro-Hungarian fantasy right in the heart of the Jardin Alpin, Courchevel’s most exclusive enclave. Popular with families and oligarchs alike, the hotel oozes charm, comfort and sophistication, while never being too showy. Yes, the ski room boutique is wall-to-wall Fendi, and yes, legend tells of guests arriving with suitcases of cash to conjure an available room out of a fully-booked hotel, but the vibe here is understated mountain luxury. A place where you can put your feet up on the sofa and wallow in the superb service, delivered with aplomb by staff dressed in the traditional uniform of a Savoyard chasseur. The lounge feels like a more upmarket version of Val d’Isère’s Blizzard bar, and buzzes with Savoie-faire.
Don’t miss the lunch buffet, it’s the alpine version of Sandy Lane’s famous Sunday spreads, with as much lobster and rare roast beef as you can muster. Several seasons ago, in keeping with the laid-back feel, executive chef Pierre Gagnaire transformed the three-Michelin-star gastro restaurant into Piero TT, his take on regional Italian food. It’s been so successful he has since opened one in Paris.
Families are spectacularly catered for; new last winter was an indoor castle and games room, to go with the outdoor treehouse and private ice rink, and all the suites are more than large enough to lock down in.
Doubles from €1,300 full board (includes lunch at associated mountain restaurants). airelles.com