Destination Guide


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Courtesy Chamonix Tourism, Christian Martelet

Though the village of Chamonix was founded nearly two centuries before skiing rose to popularity, it has undoubtedly become, first and foremost, a ski town. The mecca for cold-weather sports has great claim to fame—the first winter Olympics was held here in 1924 and Europe’s tallest peak, Mont Blanc, stands impressively in the distance.


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Hameau Albert 1er

There have been five generations of owners of Hameau Albert 1er, and each has left its mark on the historic and very special property. The initial proprietors, who in the early 1900s transformed a guest house for railroad workers into a Belle Epoque mansion, named the hotel for the Belgian king who frequently visited the region to indulge his mountain climbing hobby. Half a century later, Pierre Carrier, great-grandson of the founder, was passionate about buying up and transporting old chalets to the grounds and renovating them to house more modern and stylish guest rooms, the spa and a second restaurant, Maison Carrier.

Today, the 36-room hotel is run by Pierre Carrier's lovely and soft-spoken daughter, Perrine Maillet and her husband, Pierre Maillet, a Michelin-starred chef who heads the acclaimed restaurant. Guest rooms, which are divided between the upper floors of the main building and the adjacent La Ferme, all feature the same comingling of traditional alpine style (pine furniture, nature botanical prints) with a mid-century modern aesthetic (low, orange felt chairs and shag rugs). The result is cozy, special and very French. Many rooms have beautiful terraces and views of the enchanting valley and surrounding peaks. Additionally, there is an apartment and two chalets, including the beautiful, all-white Chalet Grépon, which sleeps four people and is ideal for a family with small children.

The property is set on the edge of town, and getting to the village center requires a three-minute walk along a relatively busy road. The hotel benefits from having space in which to spread out, however, and staying there feels like being in the countryside, helped in part by the sprawling nature of the layout. The spa and indoor/outdoor pool takes prime space on the ground floor of Le Ferme and features excellent treatments, a relaxing pool area and a small poolside dining area.

The culinary offerings at Hameau Albert 1er are of top caliber (read Indagare's reviews of Maison Carrier and Hameau Albert 1er)and breakfast, too, is a stunning affair. In a sunlit room with views of a babbling (no doubt freezing) stream, guests begin their day with an impressive array of freshly baked breads and croissant, housemade jams and locally sourced charcuterie and cheese. There could be no better way to prepare for a morning on the slopes—or in the spa.

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Hotel Mont-Blanc

Famed designer Sybille de Margerie (the talent behind the Mandarin Oriental in Paris and Cheval Blanc in Courchevel) is responsible for the uber-stylish look of the Hotel Mont-Blanc in Chamonix, opened in 2013. A black-and-white marble lobby sets the scene for the property, which marries an early 20th-century elegance with contemporary comfort.

The owners, the Taittinger family (of the famous Champagne house) are very hands-on, as they have long been devoted visitors and home-owners in Chamonix. The youngest generation doubles as owners and managers and are onsite everyday, adding a family-owned hominess to the chic property.

The 100-year-old hotel was initially built to house the servants of the aristocrats who stayed farther up the hill at the Majestic Hotel (which is today a building of apartments). Many original details remain, like the Belle Epoque lobby fireplace and wrought iron staircase balustrades. Much of the property's furniture was custom-made and the textiles were all hand-selected by the owners. Highlights include carved wooden headboards with alhambra details in all bedrooms and plush, teal velveteen curtains on the ground floor lounge.

Hotel Mont-Blanc's 42 rooms and suites are colorful, comfortable and boast views of the mountains, but are not very spacious, so we recommend booking a junior suite or higher category room. A design aesthetic that can be bothersome is the frosted, patterned glass wall separating the bathroom from bedroom. There is little privacy and the glass design, meant to evoke an ice cube, feels dated and not in keeping with the otherwise stylish look.

The property boasts an excellent spa, outdoor pool that is fully heated in the winter and the very good Le Restaurant de l'Hotel Mont-Blanc.

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