Yes it’s that time of year again and after a long day on the slopes there’s no better way to unwind than inside one of Europe’s famous ski resort bars. For skiers the après ski prospects is like the watering of the golfers mouth for the 19th hole. Handily Europe is renowned for providing thirsty skiers with some of the best après ski in the world. Here is our run down of Europe’s best resorts for off piste action…
Zermatt is a mountain village that is one of the best ski centres in the world, the town itself ifs nestled in a deep valley enclosed by steep mountains and dominated by the huge pyramid of the Matterhorn. Thanks to the strict “no car” rule the town resembles a fairytale mountain village, with fresh, intoxicating alpine air. However, don’t be fooled by the demure atmosphere, Zermatt is renowned for an après ski scene that packs a mighty punch. From the delicious emanating from the creperies and kiosks. Zermatt has something for everyone, music lovers can hang out at Hotel de la Poste, while others mingle at GramPi’s pub or dance the night away at Panorama- the breathtaking rooftop bar of the stunning Nicoletta hotel. If you don’t feel like waiting until the ‘après’ there are plenty of slope-side bars to grab a quick mug of traditional gluhwein.
Val d’Isere, France
Home to some of the top alpine events in the world, Val d’Isere has an excellent record for providing outstanding après ski. It is a feast of funky bars, raucous cocktail bars and cosmopolitan watering holes where tired skiers can dance the night away to some of Europe’s top DJ’s. Visitors to Val d’Isere normally find themselves dancing until dawn (sometimes on tables!) but for those hankering for a bit more elegance, head to Pedrix Blanche which, serves some the best food of the resort. Despite being the original home to the ever-expanding Dick’s Tea Bar chain of nightclubs the resort has maintained its French sophistication and nonchalance which, gives it the place a certain je ne sais quoi.
For most skiers the prospect of the drink awaiting them is what really entices them down the slope, those that take to the slopes at Meribel are not any different, their drink waiting for them at Rondpoint is the famous toffee vodka. The nightlife around Meribel is centred mostly around the main square and has a distinctly British feel and there is a jostling, vibrant pub vibe with many of the hotspots entertaining the snow crowd with live acts, shows and DJ sets until the wee small hours. One of the USP’s of Meribel is the Little World Festival in March- a five day music festival which features 40 concerts during the week ranging from large open-air performances on the slopes to smaller, intimate gigs. For some time off from the hectic nightlife and busy slope action, try one of the many Savoyard restaurants serving fondue, raclette and savoury galettes.
Chamonix is nestled in the cleft of the trisection between France, Italy and Switzerland and has one of the most well- known reputations for boisterous après ski in Europe. Chamonix is a real city so there is plenty for non-skiers to do but for those who venture onto the challenging slopes, there’s plenty après to look forward to. Take your pick from the terrace of Café le Terrasse overlooking Mont Blanc, the barn-like vibe of The Jekyll or the unmissable live music of the Scandinavian-inspired Chambre Neuf. For great food check out Maison Moustache et Filles or for something a bit more upmarket try the delicious sushi on offer at Le Cap Blanc.
This small medieval town, located in a large, animated Austrian valley, is the jewel Tyrol’s sporting crown. It is so popular because of its ‘car free’ centre, upscale ambiance and vibrant nightlife. The cocktail cohort will be pleased by places like Jimmy’s or Café Bergsinn while beer lovers will the Brit-style bar The Londoner will serve all your needs. For those seeking more excitement sans skis Kitzbuhel even has a casino which, means you can go on the black day and night. There is a good choice of places to stay in the resort from budget to larger family ski chalet accommodation However, be warned this place is home to World Cup races so book in advance if you plan to stay there during race season for f
Verbier is as well known for its star-spotting qualities as it is for its challenging slopes. In Verbier they do après ski with aplomb, top-end clubs are immaculately kitted out and packed to the rafters with the beautiful people where ski bums and aristocrats bop side by side. Tataras and The Farm are consistently pumping out well known tunes while Coco targets the truly elite with diamonds embedded in their cocktails. However, for those just there for the snow and not willing to break the bank on a diamante cocktail, Fer a Cheval and Le Pub Mont Fort offer great live music and off-piste drinks. While a restaurant owned by James Blunt might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s plenty for everyone.
St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton is one of the most iconic resorts of Europe coupled with a heady après ski environment. The saying goes that if you can’t hear the Euro-pop ompah music of the Mooserwrit bar then it’s because the nearby Krazy Kangaroo is drowning it out. The boom of the music blends with the chink of overflowing foaming glasses of beer and the stomp of ski boots. Be warned- they take partying very seriously here, with the things kicking off mid-afternoon and often revelling on until 2am, with all nighters ending with breakfast on the mountain.
La Plagne, France
Located in the stunning Tarentaise valley of the French Alps, La Plagne has a wide selection of après ski opportunities to choose from. La Plagne has bars spread among many satellite villages and it can be pricey if you get sucked into the champagne bars but check out the quirky Prends ta Luge and Tire Toi based in a snowboard shop or Le Grange, a Moroccan themed nightclub or more straightforward spots like Le Bubble. For those famished skiers coming off the slopes try a feast of grilled meats from The Matafan or for a great steak check out the Loup Blanc.
There’s no better way to reward yourself after a good day on the slopes than with a few well earned après ski drinks and Tignes, in the northern French Alps, has many to chose from. For a convenient slope-side drink, head to the traditional atmosphere of Marmot Arms but if you are after something a bit more upmarket check out the Le Whitney Bar is the place to go. In Les Brevieres you’ll find the Underground Bar where you can tuck into some homemade food and enjoy a chilled pint. For the clubbers there are four to choose from, each with its own distinct feel and vibe.
Cervinia’s après ski is largely centred around the centre of town where there are many clubs, restaurants and bars to choose from. The pedestrianised centre of town has a lively, cosmopolitan feel with good boutiques, vibrant bars, clubs and genial cafes. Copa Pan is a busy, bustling bar in the centre popular with tired skiers while Café des Guides offer a more laid back and relaxed atmosphere. For great food, try the Grivola, it offers a wide selection of cuisine but we recommend trying some of the amazing pizzas and steaks which, are both cooked in a wood fired oven.