Affordable ways to ski in Europe’s most glamorous resorts

You don’t need a mountain of money to hit Europe’s glamorous ski resorts. From B&Bs to cheaper eats, we offer an affordable route to the premier pistes

Accommodation prices are for seven nights’ half board in January, unless stated otherwise

St Moritz, Switzerland

Where The ski world has no rival to this resort for the rich and famous. It is set around the shores of a beautiful lake that – when frozen – hosts sports such as golf, cricket, show-jumping and horse-racing. The skiing isn’t bad either. To save money, stay in a small, family-run place rather than one of the landmark hotels.

Ski The resort’s Hotel & Ski Pass deal costs from £138pp for six days. There is 350km of piste.

Learn Bär Snowsports Engadin for lessons with a minimum four people, £139pp for five half-days.

Eat The Sonne is a rustic place with Swiss and Italian dishes at reasonable prices.

Book St Moritz Youth Hostel has beds in a four-bed dorm from £28 per night or rooms for two from £77.

Courchevel, France

Courchevel in the Trois Vallees, France

Where To make a stay in the Gallic alternative to St Moritz more affordable, you’d normally be advised to steer clear of glittering 1850 and pick one of the lower villages, but I’ve found an exception. If you’re driving from the UK stop for the basics in one of the valley supermarkets, and for a meal that won’t require a second mortgage, take the bus down to Courchevel Moriond or Le Praz.

Ski £205pp for a six-day area pass; 600km ski area.

Learn £170pp for six days with New Generation.

Eat L’Alambic in Moriond (+33 4 79 01 18 93) for Savoyard dishes.

Book Les Chalets du Forum in Courchevel 1850, from £347pp for seven nights’ self-catering (five sharing), including Eurotunnel crossings, with Ski Collection.

Chamonix, France

Ski slopes in Les Contamines near Chamonix France

Where This is the big mountain of skiing, somewhere to aspire to when you have the necessary proficiency and nerve to do justice to the incredible ski area. Stock up with food en route at Annemasse or Sallanches.

Ski £206pp for six days, 110km ski area.

Learn from £96pp for three short half-days, with Evolution 2.

Eat Simple but tasty pizzas and pasta at Le Caveau.

Book Chalet Chosalet, from £438pp for seven nights’ self-catering, with Butler & Lloyd. Travel not included; fly via Geneva. Or the Chamonix Lodge Hostel has beds for €28.50 per night in a four-bed room, and from €33.25pp in a double.

Val d’Isère, France

Val d’Isere

Where This is an expensive resort – up there with the Three Valleys. To trim the fat off a trip here, stay in the unfashionable suburb of La Daille, or opt for all-inclusive accommodation.

Ski Lift pass included, 300km ski area.

Book Lessons and food are included in a stay at UCPA’s large chalet, via Action Outdoors (£548pp full-board in multi-share rooms including equipment rental). It sleeps 250, has an in-house nightclub and is three minutes’ walk from the town centre. Travel not included – fly to Grenoble, Lyon, Chambéry or Geneva.

St Anton, Austria

Skiers skiing down ski slopes below Valluga cable car cable-car Galzig mountain winter snow Saint Anton

Where One of Austria’s top resorts, in terms of skiing terrain and popularity, so it’s more costly than the smaller Tyrolean villages. However, your money will go further in Austria than in most of the other mainstream skiing countries.

Ski £180pp for six days, 440km ski area.

Learn Ski School Arlberg, £175 for five half-days.

Eat Der Grieswirt has good-value traditional Austrian fare.

Book Chalet Rathia sleeps 20, so it is geared up to accommodate more than one group of guests. From £598pp with Alpine Elements, including flights to Friedrichshafen and transfers. Discounts for groups of six or more.

Verbier, Switzerland


Where This is a favourite of international celebrities who, unlike St Moritz regulars, can ski like a dream. Prices suit a demanding clientele, so opt for accommodation on the resort’s peripheries. In the Verbier Village quarter, the architecture of ancient chalets and barns makes it feel local rather than touristy.

Ski £142pp for three days, 410km ski area.

Learn Warren Smith Ski Academy, from £429pp for a five-day course, group max eight, including warm-up exercises, video analysis and biomechanics.

Eat Tbar under the Central Hotel for live music and delicious food.

Book Hôtel Les Touristes is the oldest hotel in town, and is next door to a local cheesemaker. From £692 per room a week B&B, excluding travel; fly to Geneva.

Zermatt, Switzerland


Where People come here for the mix of challenging skiing, fantastic food, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the Alps. Choose accommodation slightly out of the centre and be prepared to walk.

Ski £251pp for six days, 350km ski area.

Learn Summit Ski & Snowboard, £63pp per morning, with 20% off for three or more slots.

Eat GramPi’s for great pizzas, pasta and wine. At lunchtime, ski to Cervinia in Italy, for gorgeous food at a fraction of Swiss prices.

Book Three-star Hotel Adonis from £699pp with Crystal, including flights to Geneva and transfers.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Where Two hours from Venice is a resort with a history – it hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics and has starred in many a Hollywood film, including The Pink Panther, For Your Eyes Only and Cliffhanger. The high street has enticing restaurants and wine bars.

Ski From £180pp for six days, 140km ski area.

Learn Cortina Ski School from £204pp for six half-days.

Eat Owners of Ristorante Pizzeria Il Ponte have guarded their dough recipe for 20 years; they also bake pizzas from soya-based dough.

Book Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria on the main street, from £469pp, including flights to Innsbruck and transfers, with Inghams.

Méribel, France


Where Not quite as expensive as neighbouring Courchevel, this chalet-style resort is actually a collection of hamlets spread around the mountainside. Buy most of your week’s food at the hypermarket in Moûtiers before you start your ascent to the resort.

Ski £206pp for six days, 600km ski area.

Learn £170pp for six days, with New Generation £171pp for 6 days.

Eat Cookie’s Club for burgers and salads.

Book Residence Le Peillon with P&V, from £470 for a studio for four, for seven nights. Travel not included; fly to Grenoble, Lyon, Chambéry or Geneva.

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Baqueira Beret

Where The country’s premier resort is a favourite of the Spanish royals and has some very posh hotels indeed. However, you can stay here relatively cheaply, and eating out is extremely good value.

Ski £167pp for six days, 120km ski area.

Learn from £150pp for five days, with BB Ski School.

Eat Try one of the many tapas bars, including Eth Paèr in the valley at Vielha.

Book Chalet Hotel Salana, from £545pp, including return flights to Toulouse and transfers, via Ski Miquel.

Felice Hardy is co-editor of the ski information website


Felice Hardy

The GuardianTramp

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