Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Terminal Neige

France

A luxury refuge in the shadows of Mont Blanc in a setting beyond dreams

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Terminal Neige
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Terminal Neige

Location

6725 ft above Chamonix on the slopes of Mont Blanc with stunning views of the Mer de Glace and the mythical Aiguille des Drus

Travel Information

Hike, helicopter or take the little red train to Monteveners from Chamonix (times change by season and the line is closed in October). Chamonix is a 1.5hr drive from Geneva or 2hrs from Turin

Top Tips

Hire a leading high mountain guide, we recommend Isa Santoire - contact our concierge for details

5-Star X-Factors

A setting beyond dreams in any season. Spectacular views overlooking the Mer de Glace and the mystical Aiguille les Drus. A piquant blend of deep luxury and mountain refuge

Escape to the Alps' finest refuge

When you think of a mountain refuge you probably conjure up images of a basic shelter, with simple slatted bunks, sleeping bags and maybe a light or lantern. Somewhere to rest your weary head after a long day’s hike or climb.

Terminal Neige Refuge du Montenvers doesn’t take away that free-spirited wanderlust; it merely enhances the experience to a level that has made it a destination in itself, regardless of its wondrous setting.

Where is it?

Located in Montenvers, way, way up, in the shadows of Mont Blanc, above Chamonix, with views overlooking the Mer de Glace and the mystical Aiguille les Drus, the situation is eye-wateringly spectacular.

Previously known as the Grand Hôtel du Montenvers, Terminal Neige du Montenvers has a grand pioneering history with many great climbers, artists and aesthetes having enjoyed its remarkable and noble 19th century stature along with unforgettable panoramic vistas. Today, it exudes charm, calm, comfort and culinary expertise, in a style that blends simple with chic, authentic with rustic, and is possibly one of the grooviest places in any mountain range. It is the definition of ‘cool’ and embracingly cosy inside. When we arrived they were playing Stairway to Heaven behind the bar…

Rouge or crimson is the warmest colour here and the trademarks of its rich past are blended in with funky industrial additions. There is even a touch of Swiss ‘quaint’ in the heart carved spoon-back dining chairs and red check banquettes. The luxury additions such as the purple velvet chaise, a glorious mirror above a smouldering fire and deep leather armchairs, as well as suite comforts, meet the hiker mode with enticing appeal.

How to get there if you don’t hike?

The airway is a route for some, but for most of us it’s the glossy, fire-engine-red steam train, constructed in 1906, which leaves from Chamonix several times a day, chugging up and down the picturesque Montenvers line, dropping you off beside the Mer de Glace.

We went in late spring with flashes of fuchsia, yellow, and purple flora sprinkled on the fir-carpeted, snow crowned, mountains. As we tugged down our stiff vintage wooden windows to inhale the fresh pine-scented air, we had no idea how blown away we would be when we got to the top. Besides, once you take the last train up, there is no going back… at least until the following morning; a very liberating feeling indeed.

Sleeping – dormitory or romantic suite – but all with a view…

The hotel offers 17 rooms, suites, and dormitories. The suites are passionately romantic; voluptuous crimson velvet curtains adorn the original granite windows, the floor boards shine with the patina of many decades, vintage travel-trunks are used as bedside tables, top suites have freestanding bathtubs, king-size beds, and all have mesmerising views. In fact, Terminal Neige can be hired out exclusively as a wedding venue, too - a fairy-tale beginning to married life for any lucky couple.

We were on a girls’ weekend away, five of us, plus an expert guide, Isa, so chose one of the dormitories. These rooms have a newer, sauna-styled simplicity, with neat comfy beds tucked into wooden enclaves, complete with reading lights and a shelf, plus little ladders for those sleeping in the eaves. The bed linen is white and crisp, the pillows soft, and fluffy towels are placed on your beds.

It was a full moon and Kelly was woken by luminous moonbeams streaming through her eave’s window. Sitting up, she called me over to see the Grandes Jorasses’ peaks lit up like winter wonderland. Where were the unicorns? It was, for her, an epiphanic moment. The mountains work their magic up here.

Culinary delights and linking the dots

Even if you don’t spend the night, dining outside under a pillar-box-red umbrella, facing the glace and Les Drus, is deeply memorable. The Restaurant du Montenvers offers a fine menu of hearty, French country inspired dishes with an alpine twist. We had snail cassolette, a rich cheese and morel fondue, a perfect slice of river fish, all accompanied by perhaps my favourite rosé of all time, Le Domaine de Marie.

One sip of this rosé and the distinguished connection became clear. Terminal Neige Montenvere was taken over by Maisons et Hôtels Sibuet, a family run business for over 30 years. Their beautiful luxury hotels include the 5-star Les Fermes de Marie in Megève, Villa Marie in Saint-Tropez and La Bastide de Marie in the Luberon hills, along with other unique properties in prime destinations. However, each one is distinct from the other, even though there is the covetable Sibuet touch, the properties are defined and refined by their location.

The interior stairway to the heavenly view, a climb up deep red carpeted stairs, passing many homages to its past along the way, takes you to a terrace for sensational sundowners or refreshments. By now there is no return to Chamonix and the view is spellbinding.

Hiking and skiing

Hikes from here can be enjoyed or endured on a technical scale of 1-10, and no one will judge you if don’t reach a summit. From the moment you step out and follow one of the trails, you are transported. Returning is so deeply pleasurable that I can understand simply staying put, however, the lure of the mountains and the desire to discover new horizons gets you lacing up those very unsexy boots and feeling like you are, quite literally, on top of the world. Hill walks include the hike from Montenvers to Plan de l'Aiguille, via the Grand Balcon Nord hill-walking trail, and also the return descent down to Chamonix via Les Planards or Les Bois village.

In winter, for ski lovers, a ski run in the Vallee Blanche offers a thrilling and unforgettable challenge at high altitude in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif. Departing from the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m, you can enjoy the magnificent landscape as you ski down for more than 20km...

An ideal destination for the experienced skier, the Vallee Blanche offers a beautiful day of skiing and discovery as you follow the glaciers of the Mont Blanc crossing the Mer de Glace before reaching the Montenvers train at the end of your run.

Terminal Neige is the Alps’ most luxurious refuge and a must for a night or two when visiting the Chamonix region in any season, especially when staying at Hotel Mont Blanc or Les Chalets de Philippe.

 

 

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer