The luxurious Swiss village of Verbier has long been associated with the rich and famous. Its understated style and ridiculously amazing skiing has placed it far above much of the rest of the competition, and for good reason.
The wealth of the clientele is immediately apparent; a chalet can set you back at an average of a cool £8 million and the average pint of beer will set you back around £6. There are then the more obvious signs of dollar bills being chucked around, from the blacked-out Range Rovers slowly rumbling through the Place Centrale, to the bustling designer stores and watch boutiques better suited to Bond Street than a small Swiss village.
And while there’s no doubting that visitors come here for a certain display of their own wealth, the skiing is what genuinely attracts the majority of people. The resort is often compared to an ice-cream scoop of a mountain and is perfectly orientated to the south meaning that the entire resort enjoys sunshine all day, and has incredible views towards the glaciated peaks along the French and Italian borders. The resort is part of the 4 Vallées (Verbier – La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Thyon) and is the largest ski area in Switzerland. There are 410km of pistes and 89 lifts, and the off-piste skiing is second-to-none.
The key to success for Verbier is exactly this. The powers that be, in this case the Bagnes (or the council to you and I) don’t want flashy Russian Oligarchs, ‘boy done good’ city traders bragging how much money they made this year – they want tasteful people who enjoy Verbier for what it is. It’s home to some of the most luxurious chalets in the world, Chalet Septieme Ciel and Richard Branson’s mountain retreat, The Lodge, to name a few. If you don’t fancy chalet living then they have some great hotels, particularly Chalet-Adrien and Hotel Nevai.
The food is just as good as the accommodation: there’s the l’Olympique at the top of the Funispace lift, which has a seriously good formal restaurant with stunning views. Further up the mountain more is Cabane Mont Fort, on the Gentianes run to La Chaux, which has great views over the Colombe Massiv. This is actually a ski refuge with showers and 2-bed dormitory rooms and is used by the Swiss Alpine Club for ski touring. The cozy interior gets crowded in bad weather; otherwise the sun terrace has some of the best views. The best of the best though, has to go to Chez Dany. You have to get to it by skiing through the beautiful forests and so there’s a definite feeling of seclusion. It really does have it all: great views, fantastic food and a wonderful large terrace both upstairs and down. Due to its popularity they don’t take bookings at lunch, so it is best to get there early.
Other than the skiing itself, Verbier is most-known for its incredible aprés-ski. There are three places worth trying: Le Rouge (best for après ski), Pub Mont Fort (a favorite of the seasonaires) and Farinet – where the party really gets going. There is no doubt after a few hours at Farinet you will be fast asleep by 10pm, happily exhausted, ready to be up bright and early the next day. However, if you have the stamina then Verbier doesn’t stop here – a stumble down the steps of Farinet and you will find Casbar, a little cave like nightclub and probably the cheapest out of the three clubs.
Whilst other ski resorts might be great at some things, Verbier has it all: royals, celebrities, restaurants, après ski and some of the best off-piste skiing in Europe – that is if you can get out of bed in the morning.