A wide range of hotels is now available in all skiing nations in Europe and further afield. In most cases you have the option of a bed and breakfast stay, half board, full board, or all inclusive, and of course there is the full range of service available, from no-star to five star deluxe.
Fairly basic ski hotels are commonly offered by British tour operators in most mid-range resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees. Ideal for group school ski trips or first ski holidays, these hotels are always very simple, and have passable access to the slopes but very few add ons. Expect an ensuite shower-room but no bath for example, or a small breakfast buffet but no evening restaurant or bar. If you are a budget skier who just wants to spend every daylight hour on the slopes, and be in bed by 9pm after simple local supper, then these establishments are ideal.
Variants on the more budget hotel theme include Chalet Hotels (hotels run in a chalet style) and ApartHotels, which are apartment complexes with optional hotel facilities and services. A good way to get the best of both worlds (hotel and chalet), these options can provide you with privacy AND public space.
In addition, increasing number of newer more luxury establishments with pools, spas, nurseries, fine winelists and Michelin-starred restaurants are now also available. Luxury resorts such as Courchevel, Zermatt and St. Martin Moritz now offer some of the world's best hotels with superb facilities, décor, staff and service.
And depending on your whereabouts, you can find small mega-luxe boutique hotels with just a dozen stunningly decadent rooms, or giant super-complexes with more than 750 rooms and dozens of restaurants and other facilities.
The high end ski operators such as Scott Dunn have the best luxury ski hotels in their portfolio, across a range of ski resorts throughout the world – including St Anton, Lech, Val d'Isere, Zermatt and Jackson Hole. For example, this ski season you can choose from Scott Dunn's 36 luxury ski hotels. Consider Le Seizena in Courchevel 1850, described as a luxurious and hi tech boutique hotel with just 20 rooms, or The Four Seasons Whistler with 273 guest rooms, suites and townhouses, as well as ski in / ski out access, a spa with outdoor heated pool and two restaurants.
Whilst not strictly a hotel stay, Scott Dunn also offers a split chalet option – you still stay in a chalet, but the fact that you share the space with other guests outside your own party often makes for a boutique hotel feel, and can be very good value.
As well as service and facilities, you are of course paying for style, and in the style stakes, good luxury hotels should capture the essence of a fabulous mountain hideaway, with natural wood and stone finishes, spacious yet cozy rooms, superb mountain or valley views, balconies and fireplaces, and of course fluffy duvets and cozy soft towels. Some of the world's best ski hotels rooms even have private hot tubs, private butler service and roof-top helicopter access!
Always remember the golden rule when you are planning your ski holiday – work out exactly what you want from it before you book. Ski accommodation at cheaper hotels are better for the budget of course, but if they are less convenient for the slopes, you will inevitably spend less time on the snow. And if this is your one week a year of Winter wonderland, well then you need to make every second count!