What's new in the sparkling Swiss ski town of Verbier
From a scandi-chic hotel makeover to a member's club for wine lovers, here's what's new in the vast and venerable resort at the heart of Switzerland's largest ski area.
Bouncing down the bumpy black run from Verbier’s peak the near 11,000ft-high Mont Fort is one of the ski world’s true high points. The off-piste routes fanning out further down also play their part in making this one of the ultimate mountain resorts.
This is a place where the beautiful people come to ski and be seen, in an assortment of elegant restaurants and bars where skiwear is a fashion statement rather than something to simply help you keep the cold out.
Verbier is more than just a ski resort. It’s a place where people come from all over the world to settle, and where restaurants and fashion brands descend, reworking and reimagining the resort anew each season. In fact, there’s so much going on in Verbier that skiing can sometimes feel like an afterthought. And this season, there are plenty of new openings to pull your attention from the piste. We select the best places for high-altitude wining, dining and designer shopping.
1. Where to sleep
Scandi chic has been injected into Hôtel de Verbier, an unassuming if well-established place that was long run as a classic chalet hotel by a British package operator. But recently, this stalwart has been transformed, thanks to the attentions of husband-and-wife team Eld and Ebba Leijonhufvud.
The Swedish couple bought the place early in the pandemic, turned it upside down and inside out, and took over an adjoining building to create a dream world full of sheepskin armchairs, weathered timbers and cool white backdrops. All of the rooms have king-size beds, unless you book into one of the big corner rooms, which have emperor-size doubles.
Elsewhere, there’s a sleek, low-lit spa with a pool-like hot tub and snowy views from the sauna. The hotel restaurant, La Nonna, is pure Italian. It’s helmed by the folk behind Verbier’s hip apres-ski bar Le Rouge, although there’s nothing of the latter’s loud party vibe.
This is a modern, laid-back trattoria and bar where the pasta is organic and house-made. Dishes such as langoustine lemon spaghetti make a refreshing change from heavy mountain fare. From £399 per night, room only.
2. Where to party
Arriving in Verbier in 2022, 67 Pall Mall is a spin-off of the London club named after its upmarket Westminster address. Set in former restaurant and club Vie Montagne, 67 Pall Mall’s annual membership of CHF2,500 (£2,250) subsidises the price of its wines, while members are also welcomed to store their own vintages in the cellar.
The club’s wine list offers more than 1,000 Swiss vintages alone, including 500 by the glass. It also hosts the resort’s only micro-brewery, where gleaming chrome tanks are filled with Bière de Verbier.
The master brewer a Brit named Brian who has his own bar, La Textil, in Barcelona creates traditional ales, pilsner and a white Belgian brew with orange peel and camomile tea. Not up for remortgaging in order to buy a membership? The downstairs bar is open to the public, serving a selection of brews and vintages.
3. Where to shop
Brits have always been a big part of Verbier. SunGod, maker of smart sunglasses and goggles, was founded in London’s leafy Hampton Court, but has called Verbier home since 2019, with a charmingly unfussy shop, SunGod Basecamp, on Rue de Médran.
Husband-and wife team Ali and Zoe Watkiss produce cool eyewear with a conscience all packaging is recycled and SunGod is aiming for a product range that’s 100% recycled. Customers can create their own pair, by choosing the colour, shape and style of the lenses and frames for sunglasses, plus straps for goggless.
Staff seasoned Verbier skiers who understand the importance of good eyewear build them while you wait. The service is available in-house or from SunGod’s online shop, and it isn’t a budget buster; having the goods designed, built and distributed in one place cuts out the middleman, meaning better prices for premium product. Sunglasses start at £55 and goggles £95, which includes a lifetime guarantee (not scratched lenses).
4. Where to eat
Founded in New York’s SoHo district, Black Tap opened a Verbier outpost at Col des Gentianes last season. Set at the bottom of the Mont Fort ski lift, at 9,678ft, this is the resort’s second-highest restaurant (the top spot goes to Igloo du Mont-Fort, a tiny metallic dome perched at Verbier’s near 11,000ft peak, serving the highest fondues in Europe).
Everything at Black Tap is on a vast scale, from the huge, low, silver flying-saucer shaped building itself, to the mountainous burgers, including the Texan with cheddar, bacon, barbecue sauce and an onion ring.
The price is equally huge CHF22 (£21) without fries. Save space for a hot chocolate that warms the soul, or a giant Crazy Shake. There should be a prize for anyone who can ski down after lunch here.
British author and Verbier resident Kathryn Adams reveals the most inspiring runs, piste-side restaurants and apres haunts in her adopted home.
1. Old Bisse
Ski touring alongside this ancient irrigation channel, with the trees festooned and the banks piled with snow, is magical. In my third book I set my main character Lucy’s encounter with the wolf here.
2. Le Dahu
I love the Dahu for its great food and kind welcome. I run Verbier4All, the adaptive ski charity, so I’m often here with visitors and they always have a wheelchair on hand for us.
3. Ô Caboulis
This mountain restaurant on the Veysonnaz run has character and charm. It’s a lovely lunch objective when on a day out in the 4Vallées.
4. Col Des Mines
The perfect home run when the sun’s been on it long enough to soften the bumps, but not long enough to turn them to mush.
5. Cabane Mont Fort
This restaurant high on the slopes takes a lot of beating for fondue and serves the best brownies in Switzerland. I also love Farinet for apres with live music, as it’s where I met my husband.
Published in the Winter Sports 2022/23 guide, distributed with the December 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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