As I check into the five-star La Sivolière hotel in Courchevel 1850, I momentarily think that the authorities are raiding the place.
There’s a young man looking like a gendarme flicking through some paperwork behind the reception desk.
Then I realise his dark-blue top and shield-style arm badge is actually the hotel staff uniform, with the badge depicting the property.
La Sivolière hotel in Courchevel 1850 resembles an oversized ginger-bread cottage, writes Ted
La Sivolière has a lovely indoor pool, pictured, plus a steam room, sauna, gym, aqua biking and all sorts of luxury spa treatments on offer
It’s a mildly startling look only because the hotel’s aesthetic in every other way is so unregimented.
British interior designer Sara Copeland recently refurbished the inside and she has filled the property – under the guidance of the inimitable general manager, Florence Carcassonne – with an enticing blend of trendy, funky, cosy and refined elements.
From the outside La Sivolière resembles an oversized ginger-bread cottage and – like any self-respecting five-star hotel in this most chic and glamorous of French ski resorts loved by celebs, royalty and the mega-rich – sits right next to a ski slope.
In this instance, a red run. But beginners, don’t be put off, because to reach the nearest lift (and access to greens and blues) you only have to scoot from the property down the tame end of the slope.
The most appealing part of the hotel, I would suggest, is the bar and restaurant area, the former sporting a hygge-tastic chunky fireplace and intimate seating area and the latter – ‘Le 1850 Be Organic’ – some seriously gorgeous tables and chairs, along with eye-catching lights made from small branches of wood.
One of the most essential features in any ski hotel is a great bar to relax in after a hard day on the slopes. La Sivolière has this box firmly ticked
Stylish: All manner of funky furniture abounds in the reception area (pictured)
The hotel’s restaurant, ‘Le 1850 Be Organic’, has some seriously gorgeous tables and chairs, writes Ted, along with eye-catching lights made from small branches of wood
Fanny Rey, whose restaurant, Auberge de St-Remy, has a coveted Michelin star, has a residency at La Sivolière. Pictured are two of the dishes on the tasting menu
The seven and 10-course tasting menus come in at 190 and 250 euros, ‘by ruddy Jove are you in for a treat if you fancy splashing out’ writes Ted
Visiting chef Fanny Rey, who’s at La Sivolière until the end of April while her restaurant is renovated
It’s an elegant and fitting arena for the fine fodder produced by visiting chef Fanny Rey, whose restaurant, Auberge de St-Remy, has a coveted Michelin star and who the legendary guide named female chef of the year in 2017.
She’s here until the end of April with her brilliant pastry chef (and husband) Jonathan Wahid while their Provençal restaurant is renovated.
Their food is an absolute revelation, though being Courchevel 1850 the menus aren’t cheap.
The seven and 10-course tasting menus come in at 190 and 250 euros (the ‘regular’ evening meals are 95 euros for three courses) with beverages on top, but by ruddy Jove are you in for a treat if you fancy splashing out.
La Sivolière – like any self-respecting five-star hotel in this most chic and glamorous of French ski resorts loved by celebs, royalty and the mega-rich – sits right next to a ski slope
The hotel sits by a red run, reveals Ted. But beginners, don’t be put off, he adds, because to reach the nearest lift (and access to greens and blues) you only have to scoot from the property down the tame end of the slope
One-star food? Edging towards two-star, I’d say. The dishes are playful (I love the mini pieces of bread shaped like crabs), clever (the ‘cheese sorbet’ for one) and beautifully, perfectly, cooked.
A few times I take a mouthful, put down my fork, sigh, and just savour the moment.
And the service is exceptional, with our devoted solitary waiter (who’s actually from Fanny’s team) showing impressive knowledge of both the food and the paired wines.
Being offered a choice of knives with hand-carved handles for the pigeon course is another highlight.
Handily for dining parents, there’s a cute little children’s playroom stuffed with games next to the restaurant. What’s more, the walls are glass, so staff can keep an eye on proceedings as they pass.
Our two-year-old daughter is entranced. She also loves the cute mini-reception where she’s checked in and given a little passport that entitles her to free chocolate crepes.
Our spacious bedroom impresses, too.
The hotel is an excellent place to stay for families. This room features a gorgeous bunk bed for youngsters
British interior designer Sara Copeland recently refurbished the inside and she has filled the property with an enticing blend of trendy, funky, cosy and refined elements
The hotel staff uniform badge of honour
There’s an abundance of warm natural woods – used for the fitted wardrobe, floor and back wall – a huge bed and two dapper purple chairs.
The spotless modern ensuite has a decent rain shower and two sinks and there is a handy separate, loo.
All in all, luxurious (and it has some lovely touches for our little one, including little slippers and toddler-friendly toiletries) but not quite up there with the very best hotels in 1850.
I’m not entirely convinced by the bedside table or chest of drawers, for instance – flatpack-style furniture given a bespoke makeover by way of gold-metal framing.
The shower floor, meanwhile, is plastic and the walls covered in faux marble vinyl.
All easy on the eye, but other elite lodges here will offer actual marble or beautiful natural stone to accompany your ablutions.
The ensuites at La Sivolière are very good, as this image shows, but have a faux marble effect and plastic shower floors. Even swankier hotels in Courchevel 1850 offer natural stone and real marble
The cable car at 1850 takes skiers and snowboarders on a jaw-dropping ride to the top of the mountain and from there, it’s possible to hurtle down to Meribel and on to Val Thorens
The main lift station at 1850. From here three bubble lifts take skiers to some of the most enchanting runs in the Alps
Courchevel 1850 is a dream for beginners, with a plethora of gently undulating green runs that weave through the woods
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children, Princess Charlotte and Princess George, during a short private break skiing in Courchevel in 2016
WHY THE TRAIN IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THE ALPS
I’ve now travelled to the French Alps five times by train, and I think it’s one of the most exciting and magical ways to arrive.
As the train hurtles south the countryside becomes lumpier and lumpier, then the majestic Alps rise on the horizon and the train slows and winds its way through the valleys beyond Bourg-en-Bresse to Chambery, skirting the magnificent lake Lac du Bourget beforehand.
So cameras at the ready.
After Chambery, stay alert on the photo-front because epic, snow-covered peaks tower over the track on both sides.
We get off at a snowy Moutiers, where it’s a 45-minute transfer to Courchevel 1850.
And the view is almost great – we have a bit of woodland and can see the chairlift, but much of it is taken up by a concrete reservoir (if you book, ask for a room facing the valley, these have spectacular views).
Also, there is no air conditioning. Not something that irks us as fresh mountain air wafting in is rather pleasant, but some might expect it in a top-dollar lodge.
Every other aspect of our three-night stay reverts to being quibble-free.
The friendly and expert staff in the swanky boot room fix us up with excellent ski (for her) and snowboard (for me) gear, the pool proves to be a winner and we make full use of the free and extremely efficient resort shuttle service, which whisks us back and forth from the slopes and local hit eateries such as Le Tremplin and La Pomme de Pin.
There is also a lovely moment when the seated staff behind the various desks in the reception area stand up one by one and say ‘bonsoir’ and sit down again as we pass through.
I think those shields on the uniform are something of a badge of honour, because the staff all seem dedicated to the cause – of maximum guest satisfaction.
La Sivoliere? A most arresting hotel.
Ted was hosted by La Sivolière for three nights. For more information visit www.hotel-la-sivoliere.com. Rooms prices start from around £525.
Eurostar’s ski service runs to April 11, 2020.
Eurostar services direct to the French Alps stop at Moutiers, Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, making it easy to access many of Europe’s top resorts including Courchevel, La Plagne, Tignes, Meribel and Les Arcs.
Courchevel 1850 is a 45-minute drive from Moutiers.
There are three options allowing skiers to pick which train suits them best:
- Friday overnight – arrive on a Saturday morning while other holidaymakers are just beginning their trip.
- Saturday daytime – enjoy a relaxed journey watching the countryside pass by and avoiding long coach transfers form the airports.
- Saturday overnight – an extra night-time service over half-term.
Fares are from £80 each way.
For more information visit www.eurostar.com/uk-en/train/france/ski-train.
For more on skiing in France visit en.france-montagnes.com and for more on Courchevel click here.