Ski, shop, and dine like a royal on the slopes
White 1921 Courchevel lays claim to one of the best alpine postcodes on the planet. Squeezed between Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior boutiques, perched on the croisette of Courchevel 1850, the hotel sits in the Tarentaise Valley of the French Alps’ Savoie region. Courchevel is the gateway to the Trois Vallées, which, at 370 skiable miles, boasts the world’s largest ski playground. The bejewelled town has a seductive, intimate vibe all of its own though, oozing old-school glamour and wintry romance. Think Audrey Hepburn and vintage royals wrapped in furs and zipping down glittering slopes.
White 1921 Courchevel is an outpost of LVMH, the leading luxury conglomerate most known for Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, Bulgari and other high-end brands. Billed as “exclusive havens of refinement”, there are LVMH “maisons” in the Maldives, Saint-Barthélemy and soon, Paris. Each has been constructed according to the four founding values of LVMH - craftsmanship, privacy, creativity and Art de Recevoir (the art of hospitality). Designer flourishes are often seen in high-end boltholes, but when a fashion house puts its name above the door of its own hotel, the stakes are high. White 1921 Courchevel does not disappoint. Parisian architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte took inspiration from the surrounding snow-veiled peaks, rendering mountainous silhouettes into clean geometric triangular lines that grace the interior walls. The look is elegance personified - calm, understated luxury with accents of wood, suede and faux fur cosily dotted throughout.
The property has 26 rooms including two family rooms, some of which have white-timbered balconies, The Week Portfolio’s included, and terraces with views over the ski slopes and surrounding town. Ski hotels are renowned for being small, and although White 1921 Courchevel is cosy, it manages to nail luxe-intimacy, a feat rarely accomplished by others. It’s all in the curated interiors, instantly proclaiming their famous French fashion house heritage on our arrival. Subdued palettes of greys and whites, low-slung smoked glass lamps, smooth bedside log-tables, shaggy haired chairs and marshmallow-style pillows provide a gracious welcome.
Here, French l'art de vivre - the ultimate expression of sophistication and conviviality, is practised with gusto. Staff float elegantly throughout the property in cool grey attire, dispensing advice on everything from ski hire to the best bars and restaurants. The basement is home to an impressive ski-hire service, run by an attentive crew who speak impeccable English. Not only do they know every guest by name, they will fit you out in top-notch equipment, have it ready for you every morning and cheerfully strap your boots off as you stagger in. Aprés ski activities include a sauna, hammam (equipped with traditional Rassoul mud), jacuzzi and if you’re feeling virtuous, a small gym. Upstairs, the welcoming Petit Salon offers plump sofas and a carefully curated library - the perfect setting for an afternoon skiing interlude.
Michelin star dining
Food is served downstairs in the jovial atmosphere of the Grand Salon. Breakfast is a buffet-style affair, with a wide selection of fresh fruits, yoghurt and cold meats in a floor-to-ceiling temperature-controlled Champagne fridge. The hot menu includes eggs any way you like them and perfectly crispy bacon and sausages, alongside good coffee. Dinner is laid-back - a simple selection of local dishes with an emphasis on good, French food. In the mood for something fancier? You’re in the right place. Courchevel has a flurry of Michelin stars - eight restaurants total a whopping 14 Michelin stars between them.
The jewel in the crown is Cheval Blanc Courchevel's Le 1947, LVMH’s nearby sister hotel and Courchevel’s first restaurant to earn three Michelin stars. Culinary maestro Yannick Alleno’s work is lauded by Michelin as “truly emotional cuisine that showcases the richness of the Savoy Alps”. A magnet for for A-listers and royalty, the elite lair is named after its Saint Emilion vineyard. Le 1947 refers to one of the most famous vintages of the 20th century; Château Cheval Blanc 1947, commanding a current market value of over £18,000 a bottle.
Not only is Cheval Blanc Courchevel ski-in/ski-out, it’s also walk in/walk out and eat in/eat out, too, making it ideal for both skiers and non-skiers. The hotel also has a more casual brasserie, Le Triptyque, which is also led by Alléno. We enjoyed slices of raw red tuna with shiso, served like fanned out cards atop a cylindrical ice plinth, scallop tartare with black truffle and a to-die-for seabass ceviche with foraged mountain herbs. Mains include beef and black truffle pot-au-feu, milk-fed lamb chops, Wagyu beef and an outstanding blue lobster hot pot with an Asian-inspired broth.
“The Unforgettable” is just that, an indulgent potato puree with confit egg yolk and black truffle that will instantly render normal mashed potato redundant for the rest of your life. The dessert menu is a piece of art itself - a box frame filled with sparkling “snow” that we must wait to settle before reading. Choose “The Mille-Feuille of your Dreams” and a smiling waitress will glide in attached to a trolley, assembling the picture-worthy dessert slope-side with a theatrical flourish. The menu is the work of a playful genius and needless to say, a deserving acompaniment to some of the best wines and champagnes in the world. Whatever you desire, a discreet murmur to a highly knowledgable sommelier will have it by your side within minutes. White 1921 Courchevel is a short ski back or, depending on how keenly you took the sommeliers advice, you can slide into one of Cheval Blanc Courchevel’s luxurious cars and enjoy a chauffeured ride home. Or, carry on gallivanting round the nearby slopes, of course.
Courchevel, or “Courche” to regulars, features enough reds, blacks and blues to satisfy even the most energetic skiers, but the well-connected set of mountains means you can easily get to nearby Méribel and Val Thorens as well. For non-skiers, there is plenty to do here, from a visa-flexing zip through the nearby shops to a two km long sledge run from the top of Ariondaz gondola to Courchevel Moriond village.
If you’re looking for the charm of a boutique ski hideaway with the flair of French haute-couture, White 1921 Courchevel nails it. The hotel is a good two-and-a-half-hour drive from Geneva, but you can cut this to 30 minutes by taking a helicopter into Courchevel Altiport. The piste de résistance? The first ski lift is less than a minute from the hotel's front door.
By Meg Roberts