Condé Nast Traveller
15 Great-Value ski hotels in Europe you will love
Off-piste charm in Chamonix
The latest outpost from hip hotel group Terminal Neige requires a bit of effort to get to, but that effort is richly rewarded.
Built in 1880 as a rustic mountaineers' lodge, this handsome granite structure is 2,050 metres above sea level and reachable on the dinky red Montenvers funicular train, which winds slowly up through snow-topped forests to France's largest glacier, the eye-popping Mer de Glace. It's possible to ski more than 2.7km down the glacier, following the Vallée Blanche off-piste route, so, if you're feeling particularly gnarly, you can check in on skis.
The refuge has been freshly renovated by the Sibuet family, creators of glossy hotels such as Les Fermes de Marie in Megève and Lyon's Cour des Loges. Brilliantly, they've retained all the original charm (red-and-white-painted shutters, dark timber-clad walls, plenty of fires and a fabulous Twenties bar) while injecting comfort and style in the 20 rooms with thick tweed curtains, miners' lamps and leather trunks by the beds.
Staying here is about immersing yourself in mountain calm, hiking along the glacier, falling asleep to the burbling ice-melt streams and waking up to the sun hitting the jagged peaks encircling the hotel.
It's also about eating fabulous food (three-course dinners are included in the room price): Savoyarde casseroles with creamy polenta and a superb tartiflette, served with cracking local wines.