10 of the best mountain hotels in Europe

Penni Schewe

Sea and sand holidays are wonderful, but some of us feel more at home in the crisp mountain air. We’ve hand-picked this selection of mountain hotels in Europe to suit lovers of tranquil lakes, fresh-air adventures and culture that captures the imagination.

1. Hotel l´Hélios & Spa: Méribel, France

With panoramic views across the three spectacular peaks and valleys of Méribel, Hotel l’Helios is a luxurious experience from the moment you arrive. Perched at an altitude of 1,550m, this ski-in ski-out hotel is a snow lovers’ dream. Roaring fires welcome you into this traditional chalet-style wood-clad building – especially dreamy in the winter but beautiful year-round. It’s difficult to imagine a more idyllic spot for a long lunch than the sun-soaked terrace at the Crêperie here, a quick detour off the Doron blue run. Dinner at l’Helios is a treat too, think beet leaf mille-feuille and roasted saddle of lamb, followed by rich chocolate mousse and Breton biscuits. Perfection. After a long day on the slopes, recharge and retreat to the glittering spa area for a soak in the pool or catch a movie in the on-site cinema.

2. Waldhaus Sils: St Moritz, Switzerland

Opened in 1908 and still owned by the same family, the legendary five-star Waldhaus Sils  has played host to everyone from Albert Einstein to David Bowie. Just outside of St Moritz, its rooms are windows to diverse and majestic views: watch dawn break over Lake Silvaplana or the sun lower its head into the Fex Valley to the south. After a day of fresh-air fun exploring forests, lakes and mountains, step inside a temple of tranquillity at Waldhaus Spa. If you have time, try and catch Felix Dietrich (father of hosts Claudio and Patrick and Waldhaus host for three decades) for one of his mesmerising stories.

3. Hotel Alte Goste: Puster Valley, Italy

The Dolomites are the poster boy of European mountain holidays. And if you want to match them up with the creme-de-la-creme of mountain hotels in Europe, set your compass for Hotel Alte Goste in South Tyrol. First mentioned in 1142, this serene stay harmoniously blends history and modernity. Guests’ favourite spots are the enchanting spa – inviting you in with steam, hay and herbal baths – and the idyllic garden, where you can linger and savour the postcard-worthy views.

4. Hotel Royal Palace: Turčianske Teplice, Slovakia

Sublimely beautiful, steeped in history and wonderfully removed from day-to-day life, Hotel Royal Palace is Slovakia at its most gorgeous. This is one of the most luxurious mountain hotels in Europe, located on 13th-century thermal springs once enjoyed by Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg and Duke Maximilian of Habsburg. Today, this healing mineral spring forms part of the astonishing Royal Bath – a unique rarity of a Slovak spa. After a bath, treat yourself to a royal massage, hydrotherapy, thermotherapy, or other wellness treatments. Another unique speciality: Royal Palace is the only hotel in the world to offer a procedure using 24-carat gold.

5. Rubezahl-Marienbad Castle Hotel & Golf: Marienbad, Czech Republic

Rubezahl-Marienbad Castle Hotel & Golf, built in 1903, sits thousands of metres up on the shoulders of Slavkovsky forest, in a luscious area for hiking. You’ll be staying within the charming spa town of Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad), which has been flocked to for centuries for its natural healing mineral springs. As well as its stress-melting services, mouthful-savouring gastronomy and extravagant ballroom hall, this West Bohemian beauty is also something of a fairytale – legend has it that the magical spirit of mountain guardian Rubezahl can make all your wishes come true. The gentle giant still stands in the castle grounds today, waiting to hear your dreams.

6. Hotel Park: Bergen, Norway

Nestled in a valley and often referred to as a city of seven mountains, Bergen is actually surrounded by nine magnificent elevations – and it’s a hikers’ paradise. Centrally located in this storied town, the charming Hotel Park is an ideal base camp from which to explore the surrounding trails. Constructed in 1890, the Klohs family has been welcoming guests since the early 1970s. Fronted by iconic 19th-century architecture, inside you’ll find an eclectic mix of rare antiques alongside more contemporary elements. Vibrant upholstery and modern art meet well-travelled trinkets and sparkling chandeliers in this historic, unforgettable setting.

7. Villa Bergzauber: Pyrhn Priel, Upper Austria

Pops of Art Nouveau charm can still be seen within this recently renovated villa run by Markus and Christin Schmidleitner, and their son Moritz. Resting within the Totem and Sengsen ranges, the gorgeous Villa Bergzauber is surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain scenery. Guests here are encouraged to sit back and relax but if you do feel like exploring, check out the ancient beech woodlands in nearby Kalkalpen National Park. It’s the largest forested area in Central Europe and a delight to behold. Alongside the main building accommodation, the hotel grounds are home to 10 design-led ‘earth houses’ that circle an inviting outdoor azure pool. These self-catering options are decked out with modern kitchens and stunning interiors and come complete with obligatory, breathtaking mountain views.

8. Hotel Cavallino d’Oro: South Tyrol (Dolomites), Italy

Cosy Tyrolean-style rooms whisper stories of a 700-year past at this quaint, alpine bolthole bordered by the extraordinary Italian Dolomites. Hotel Cavallino d’Oro is packed to the brim with history, ever present in the art and photography that adorns its walls. As fascinating as it is welcoming, Cavallino is located in the heart of medieval Castelrotto, the largest town in the Alpe di Siusi. There’s a hike to suit every level here – from easy walks to more taxing treks. For something a little more stationary, try the Finnish sauna and steam bath in the hotel spa, a former wine cellar converted into a little oasis of calm.

9. Kurhaus Bergün: Bergün, Switzerland

Meet some of Switzerland’s loveliest mountains at Kurhaus Bergün. This Art Nouveau building dates back to 1906 when it was a wellness hotel. Following a stunning renovation in 2002, the unique property is once again a magnificent sanctuary for lovers of revitalising mountain air, creative cuisine and grand architecture. From the blue ballroom to the original canteen kitchen, this is one of the best mountain hotels in Europe for interior buffs – it’s even won awards for its unusual collection of Art Nouveau light fittings.

10. Ghan House: Co Louth, Ireland

Small but perfectly formed, Ghan House sits at the foot of Slieve Foy in the Mourne Mountains. And while Ireland’s hills might not compete in stature with some of its continental counterparts, they are no less alluring. Offering a stunning mountain backdrop, the hotel is just a stone’s throw from the seashore. Nearby Carlingford is renowned for year-round water-based fun and features a car-free Greenway suitable for dedicated cyclists and Sunday wheelers alike. Two of Ireland’s UNESCO World Heritage sites are within easy driving distance too. Take time for a trip to Newgrange – a Neolithic monument thought to be older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza – or marvel at the (super)natural formations of the Giant’s Causeway. After a day exploring Ireland’s heavenly landscapes, tuck into local, seasonal food at the award-winning hotel restaurant – which is worth the trip to Ghan House alone.

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