[I was invited to Verbier as a guest of Experimental Chalet but all thoughts, love of the snow are my own]
Until last year, my skiing experience was strictly limited to Orpington’s finest dry slopes on a chilly Tuesday with the Brownies. Twice. Growing up, I didn’t head to colder climes for family sporting activities, and the images of poised women on slopes with salopettes were exclusively reserved for glossy publications or the kind of ‘80s magazines you’d thumb through in a vintage shop.
But that’s not to say there hasn’t always been an air of romance and glamour about the idea of hitting the fluffy white slopes (even as a beginner knowing only ‘pizza legs!’ and ‘French fries!’) and indulging in gooey fondue and tingly warmth at après ski (which even saying out loud makes me feel remarkably fancy).
So, when late last year I was kindly invited to Verbier to stay at The Experimental Group’s latest hotel, The Experimental Chalet, I couldn’t have said ‘sign me up!’ quick enough. Having been lucky enough to stay at London’s Henrietta and Hotel Des Grands Boulevards in Paris, I knew we’d be in very accommodating and homely hands. With my ski knowledge starting and ending on a magic carpet and a slope fashioned exclusively for under fives, I was ready to give it another shot- and where better to rest up afterwards than in the towns newest Wes-Anderson inspired addition?
Arriving after a snowy drive from Geneva, we pulled up to Experimental Chalet with just enough time to appreciate the fresh snowfall and get ready for dinner. Nestled along the main hubbub of Verbier- the hotel boasts postcard-worthy views of the snowy mountains, whilst also being a stones throw away from some of the towns most popular haunts (including après ski spot Le Rouge and fondue favourite Le Caveau). Showcasing sage greens, dusty roses and exceptional attention to detail (even the sugar spoons had antlers on them)- there’s every bit #accidentalwesanderson as you might imagine, and that’s before you get into the rooms and catch the embroidered bath ropes and printed bedside stationery. Heaven, I tell you!
With dinner being at the top of the mountain at Chez Dany (when in Rome) we took a snow taxi to the top, gobbled up more cheese and meat than socially acceptable (all whilst howling Queen at the top of our lungs) before sledding back down one of the blue slopes in possibly one of the most wild after dinner rides this Bridget Jones had ever encountered- they may not have Uber here, but I can promise you take a sled down a mountain after tea is absolutely the next best thing.
The next day consisted of giving skiing a second attempt (no falls from yours truly), we couldn’t have been more fortunate with the weather- with warm sunshine and fluffy fresh snow beneath us making for pretty perfect conditions indeed. I’ve always been a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to trying these kind of things (put it this way, I’ve never been outdoorsy), but with the help from Altitude Ski School– Carrie and I really got to make the most out of the short-but-sweet time we had on the slopes and ended up feeling confident enough to give it a go solo, which always welcomes a pretty lovely sense of achievement, right?
Back at the hotel, we managed to squeeze in an incredible evening meal before leaving and heading home the next day. With the restaurant run by Gregory Marchand (the brains behind Covent Garden’s Frenchie), the food was contemporary, delicious and completely packed full of fresh flavour in a non-pretentious way. With hearty signature dishes combined with imaginative additions- it felt like you could head back to the hotel and not have to worry about finding somewhere delicious elsewhere later. Plus, with Verbier’s iconic Farm Club downstairs too (rumour has it a certain Bowie frequented it’s floors from time to time)- there’s ample opportunity to cut some post dinner shapes too.
It honestly couldn’t have been a more perfect ski spot, and despite having some pre-conceived perceptions of what a ski chalet hotel could be like (think mahogany for days and stuffy seventies décor- taxidermy optional)- Experimental Chalet throws convention on it’s head, whilst still creating a cosy, comfortable and completely perfect spot for the ultimate winter getaway. Maybe I’ll have to start saving for some skis of my own…