Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Alpaga

France

A hamlet above Megève is a suite chalet gem

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Alpaga

Location

Only 5 minutes by carriage from the heart of Megève

Travel Information

Geneva International Airport - 1 hour

Top Tips

Stay in the summer, as well as the ski season, for favourable rates and a whole host of activities

5-Star X-Factors

Michelin-starred restaurant and breathtaking views of Mont Blanc

Alpaga

High up in the Mont Blanc massif lies Megève, a superbly chic mountain retreat retaining old-fashioned charm and a reputation for being favoured by those 'in the know'. Alpaga is one of our two favourite hideways in Megève, with a cosy, intimate feel and stunning views of Europe's highest mountain.

 

Craving some time away together without our teenage boys and their screens in-tow, my husband and I took a brief flight into Geneva airport and an hour later we were driving through the small alpine village of Megève. A validation that recharging one’s batteries does not require a long haul flight.

We visited in early April which coincided beautifully with the best of spring skiing, with long bright days, soft snow and lengthy alfresco lunches at sunny mountain top restaurants. April in the mountains is a time to reach for your sunscreen and sunglasses, leaving the heavy thermals behind.

Five minutes from Megève, we arrived at Alpaga, nestled amongst rolling mountain slopes. The hotel, with its typical alpine chalet architecture, sits well within this attractive valley. Walking through the sliding doors of the main reception, we were greeted by the charming general manager, Julien Mathon. The style and warmth of the interiors was a welcome sight and the mix of jazz playing in the background oozed mountain chic. Limed wood floors, beams and walls cleverly accented with black-paned picture windows and  a galvanised steel fireplace exude understated sophistication, whilst complementing the mountain views beyond.

Algapa is a hamlet, comprising a hotel and a series of chalets which cater to all tastes. Two of Alpaga's chalets offer 22 rooms, which combine every contemporary creature comfort with an alpine rustic-chic; natural wood and cosy throws to leave you in no doubt you are in the mountains. Classic, Deluxe or Prestige rooms describe the size of the rooms, all with a generous terrace or balcony and views over the hamlet. The third chalet "Gaspard" contains five suites. Recently renovated, each offers privacy and luxury with private terraces and views onto Val d'Arly or Mont Blanc. Two of the suites are perfect for families of four, offering a king-size double bedroom and a second with bunk beds, kitchen, bathroom and separate lounge. Two more have two double bedrooms and the largest suite offers three.

For larger travelling parties, Alpaga's private chalets will become your dream home away from home. Over three floors and 6 bedrooms, including a magical attic room for youngsters, there is room for up to 12 guests. The terraces and private gardens provide guests with more opportunities to enjoy the stunning scenery and glorious sunshine, whilst the stylish interiors make it a pleasure to entertain from the indoor comforts of cosy rooms and a traditional fire.

We begin our weekend escape with an aperitif on the large terrace overlooking woods of pines and aspens and ski slopes to the south. As the sun sets, an outdoor fire is lit, chic chalets dotted throughout the valley begin to glow with their soft, twinkling lights and stars appear above. In summer, this same terrace turns into a magical open-air cinema with old black & white films playing and carved wooden torchères dotted throughout the garden.

Our room was an oasis of calm and cool, which was a wonderful tonic to our hectic lives in London.  The warmth of the limed oak matched with soft textures and tones of the cream furnishings were stunning against the black-paned picture window. Our balcony was almost as generously proportioned as our room.

SKIING IN MEGÈVE

The town is quite peaceful as far as ski resorts go, with very little queuing for lifts and uncrowded runs. It does get busier at weekends and school holidays, when weekenders arrive from Geneva, but Megève's charm is it still feels like a bit of a secret.

Megève is suitable for all levels of skiing experience, whether you want to ski or snowboard. With access to over 100kms of runs, a Portes du Mont Blanc lift pass is a good bet; although you can upgrade to 400kms of runs, should you need a greater challenge. The lifts may not be the newest on the Mont Blanc mountain range but you quickly appreciate the lack of queues and uncrowded pistes.

Apart from skiing, there is great hiking and trekking in spring, summer and autumn, ice skating, tennis, climbing, mountain biking and hot air ballooning in the summer. The shops are shi-shi and around Easter you can enjoy the Megève Jazz and an International Dance Festivals.

MICHELIN-STARRED CUISINE

Anthony Bisquerra won a Michelin star in 2014 and has held onto it ever since, making Alpaga's gastronomic restaurant, La Table de l'Apaga, the town's destination restaurant.  The menu is modern French fare with a Bordeaux flare, an ode to Anthony’s childhood roots.  Local ingredients inspire the cuisine here, with wild mushrooms, artichokes and lake-caught fish all featuring alongside local pork, eggs and cheese. A vegetarian menu is available and, in spring, the restaurant opens its vast terrace with mesmerising views of Mont Blanc.

A second restaurant, L'Onyx, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering Anthony's Alpine classics with a menu that changes every day. The Lobby provides snacks and aperitifs and, if you are staying in a chalet, one of the chefs will come and cook for you in your own kitchen.

On our first night, we enjoy the more relaxed bistro, Onyx, starting with monkfish carpaccio with pickled shallots, herbs from the hotel’s garden, fried capers and a shallot vinegrette. My main course was veal smoked with local wood. The subtle smoked effect was delicious.

MOUNTAIN WELLBEING

The spa by Sothys offers pampering or just relaxing in a hot tub with a view of Mont Blanc. Signature treatments using the Sothys's special anti-ageing formulas are available with treatment cabins set out around the pool.  A fitness studio with personal trainers is open each day and a Kids' Club, open during peak season, makes sure the little ones aren't missing out.

Never one to do things in half measure, Alpaga has even gone to the great lengths to cultivate the authentic mountain experience by working with mixologist Dean Shury to create the flavourful Bijou le Pigalle made with green Chartreuse, a popular local tipple distilled in the Alps by Carthusian monks since the mid-18th century, and Dolin Rouge, a local vermouth made near Chambery. It’s claimed curative properties include taking away aches and pains of skiing and hiking. After our big day out on the slopes, we treated ourselves by drinking it as a chilled shot before bed and felt the comforting effects on our wary muscles.

SUMMER IN MEGÉVE

Alpaga is a perfect place to stay in the Alps - for all the family. As the late Spring weather turns balmy with the approach of summer, the hills really are alive with the sound of...well, whatever you want at Alpaga. The wealth of possibilities for indulging in the best of the alpine peaks left us feeling refreshed, inspired and encouraged us to revel in the luxurious calm of Alpaga and the true nature of the mountains throughout the seasons. Summers in Megève feature green rolling valleys, wild flowers and views of Mont Blanc dominating the landscape. For a truly outdoor experience for the entire family, it’s an adventure playground of hiking, mountain biking, golf, paragliding, carriage rides, climbing and via ferrata. The special alpine ambience of Megève in summer is like no other. We can’t wait to come back.

 

Kelly Hail
Kelly Hail


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer