The best restaurants in the Alps
Simon Hoskyns | 27 October 2015 | Gastronomy
Much has been written on the best restaurants in the Alps – after all there is nothing more deserving than a full on gastro blow out after taking the mountain airs. A six or seven course extravaganza comes (almost) guilt free after a hard day’s skiing or hiking so why not indulge yourself the next time you go on a ski holiday. The list below of the best mountain restaurants in the Alps has been part put together from firsthand experience (lucky duck that I am) and part through our 20+ years of experience as a leading specialist ski holiday agency and tailor-made tour operator.
We have been booking luxury ski holidays for discerning clients since the early 1990’s and have come to appreciate that a superb mountain dinner or lunch is every bit a part of a fantastic ski holiday as the hotel or chalet in which our guests stay or the resort in which they ski. In fact we might go as far as saying that an entire ski holiday can (and perhaps should) be planned purely around our clients’ gastronomic needs and desires. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach then he will love, love, love to eat in these great restaurants.
The best restaurants in the Alps – Zermatt
Zermatt is a majestic Swiss ski resort with great skiing, a wonderful resort atmosphere, superb restaurants both on and off the mountain and all of this topped off by the ever present iconic peak of the Matterhorn. What a ski resort! There are over 100 restaurants in Zermatt and no less than 17 of these have been awarded GaultMillau points making it the most enriched ski resort in the Alps when it comes to fine dining. The restaurant at the Hotel Omnia has one Michelin star as does the Capri (at the Mont Cervin Palace Hotel), the After Seven (at the Backstage Hotel) and the Corbeau d’Or (at the Mirabeau Alpine Residence). In 2015 the Prato Borni at the 5 star Zermatterhof Hotel was awarded 14 GaultMillau points, firmly adding it to the list of the culinary highlights in Zermatt.
There are of course some amazing mountain restaurants in Zermatt with Chez Vrony and Franz & Heidi’s Findlerhof restaurant being the most revered and talked about mountain restaurants in the world, let alone the Alps.
Best restaurants in the Alps – Franz and Heidi Schwery’s Findlerhof
The best retaurants in the Alps – The Hotel Rosengarten, Kirchberg, Tirol
Simon Taxacher is the proprietor and head chef of the exceptional Relais & Chateaux Hotel Restaurant Spa Rosengarten. The hotel’s restaurant has no less than 19 GaultMillau points and 4 toques putting it amongst the very highest echelons of global culinary excellence. The hotel, which has 26 rooms, restaurant and its spa are all unashamedly modern in decor and style with an extremely fine quality of finish in all departments – as you might expect from an exacting man like Taxacher. This is not your traditional Tirol experience and the modernity of the decor might seem a little out of place when you consider that ancient and traditional Kitzbuhel is just over the hill. However, the uncluttered muted decor of the Rosengarten I suspect has been designed so that the quality of the food coming from Taxacher’s kitchen does all the talking.
The best restaurant in the Alps – Simon Taxacher’s Hotel Restaurant Spa Rosengarten
The best restaurants in the Alps – La Bouitte, Three Valleys
Just up the road from St Martin de Belleville you will find the converted old Savoyarde farm building that is now the extraordinary restaurant, La Bouitte. Recently awarded its third Michelin star this father and son double act surely has secured its place as one of the finest restaurants in the Alps. Rene and Maxime Meilleur have over the years built their reputation for creating wonderful cuisine, often using local ingredients of their local mountains in the Three Valleys, France. In stark contrast to the Rosengarten the style of La Bouitte is homely, traditional and cosseting. The atmosphere is relaxed (dining in ski boots is perfectly acceptable) and the essence of the old chalet building with its large open fireplace and stone walls create a welcoming mountain atmosphere. We recommend a stay in nearby St Martin de Belleville in the Chalet Abode which carries on the theme of fine dining and a professional yet relaxed atmosphere.
The best restaurants in the Alps – 3 Michelin stars at La Bouitte (Rene and Maxime Meilleur)
The best restaurants in the Alps – the dining room at La Bouitte
The best restaurants in the Alps – Alta Badia and San Cassiano, Italy
The third generation of the Pizzinini family has done much to develop this corner of the Italian Dolomites into a culinary hot spot. As owners and managers of the excellent Hotel Rosa Alpina they had a vision to put their little ski resort of San Cassiano on the gastro map. In 1996 they were joined by Norbert Niederkofler, now their head chef, who shared their vision and together they created not only the St Hubertus restaurant (with 2 Michelin stars and 19 GaultMillau points) but also the whole on-mountain dine around experience. Guests staying at the hotel can now explore the Alta Badia and Sella Ronda ski domains and also eat at any number of mountain restaurants that serve Michelin chef inspired signature dishes.
The best restaurants in the Alps – Norbert Niederkofler and Mr & Mrs Pizzinini of the Hotel Rosa Alpina
The best restaurants in the Alps. The lounge at the Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano, in the Alta Badia region of the Italian Dolomites
St Hubertus, San Cassiano, one of the best restaurants in the Alps
Apart from the fine mountain restaurants in the Alta Badia ski region and the wonderful St Hubertus at the Hotel Alpina there is also La Stua de Michel (in nearby Corvara) and La Siriola (also in San Cassiano) which both have 1 Michelin star. The romantic and traditional Hotel La Perla, Corvara, also has a fine dining restaurant that until recently had a Michelin star. Arguably the Alta Badia ski area with its resorts of Corvara and San Cassiano is the premier fine dining destination in the Alps (sorry Zermatt – for me the Dolomites just edge it).
The best restaurants in the Alps – Courchevel 1850, Three Valleys
Love it or loathe it we cannot omit Courchevel 1850 – no blog post on fine dining the Alps would be complete without a mention of this chic Three Valleys resort. Although originally conceived soon after WWII as a ‘ski resort for the people’ by the mid 1980’s Courchevel 1850 (the uppermost of the 5 Courchevel villages) had secured its place as a ski resort for the rich and famous. The Hotel Les Airelles, with its connections to St Tropez, and the Melezin were two famous luxury hotels that put 1850 as the destination of choice for those that had serious spending power. The influx of the Russian market some 20 years later spawned the development of much of the luxury hotel market so that now there are 20 – 30 truly luxurious hotel properties, and of course any number of luxury chalets in Courchevel 1850.
Best restaurants in the Alps – Hotel Chabichou, Courchevel 1850
The restaurant at the Hotel Kilimandjaro has two Michelin stars as does the fine dining restaurant at the Hotel Chabichou (see photo above). Also with 2 Michelin stars in Courchevel 1850 are the Pierre Gagnaire (at the Hotel Les Airelles), restaurant Le 1947 and also Le Kintessence. There are a further two restaurants with 1 Michelin star including the very good Azimut down in pretty Courchevel Le Praz. If it’s fine dining in the Alps that you are after then you could eat at no fewer than 7 different Michelin starred restaurants in Courchevel – enough to keep any gourmand happy.
The best restaurants in the Alps – Megeve and Verbier
The other key resorts for a top quality mountain meal are Megeve in France and Verbier in Switzerland. Megeve is a charming ‘old school’ style resort with cobbled streets, horse drawn sleighs, top brand shopping and oozes style and glamour. Verbier has in recent years been slightly mobbed by hedge funders and high earning other banking professionals so has taken on a more fast paced and lively apres ski scene in recent years. The new kid on the block regards accommodation is the W Hotel which gives you some idea of the clientele now heading to this famous Swiss resort. There are three restaurants in Verbier with one Michelin star including the renowned Chalet d’Adrien and there are two restaurants in Megeve, each with one star (the Alpaga Hotel and the restaurant 1920).
Although we are not saying that this is the definitive list of the best restaurants in the Alps I think it’s fair to say that we have covered the most important culinary orientated ski resorts in Europe plus also introduced some of the very interesting individual restaurants such as the Rosengarten and La Bouitte.
We would be delighted to advise you further on any restaurants listed and would equally be delighted to hear about any of your own favourites – if you are happy to share them.
…and if you happen to be looking for an upmarketbed and breakfast in Fulham then we highly recommend 82 Clancarty Road.