A luxury weekend in the French ski resort would not be complete without a trip to Refuge de la Traye and Hôtel Le Coucou.
Méribel is a world-renowned ski resort offering exquisite restaurants and luxury accommodation; its top addresses include the off-grid Refuge de la Traye and the town-based Hôtel Le Coucou. Visit one or the other, or ideally both, to experience the best après ski. With comfort like this, you would be forgiven for missing out on the skiing altogether...
Off-grid Refuge de la Traye in the village of Les Allues is a sanctuary of nature and well-being. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this elegant and refined dwelling offers cosy-chic Savoyard spirit in the comfort of a luxury rustic setting. Reaching the exclusive hotel is the fun part.
During the winter months, other than walking through thigh-high snow, arriving by helicopter or ski touring, the only way to the cosy, luxurious Refuge is on board their private snowcat. Clambering into the heated snowcat’s cabin, we were offered blankets to keep us warm as we ploughed through freshly fallen snow to the remote Refuge. On arrival, a meticulously prepared afternoon tea awaited us in one of the Refuge’s cosy sitting rooms.
This peaceful, luxurious retreat offers complete privacy. It is surrounded by nature and perfectly placed on the cusp of the Three Valleys ski area; the uninterrupted panoramic views of Mont Blanc dominate.
Refuge de la Traye was the first high-end Refuge in the French Alps. It was originally created in 1982, but in 2019 it received a sophisticated transformation. Today, the Refuge oozes superior luxury and can host a maximum of 19 people during the summer and winter months. The presence of electric vehicles, beehives and a sheepfold on the land is all part of the Refuge’s pursuit of environmentally friendly initiatives. Authentic and ‘Savoie’ in design, numerous buildings include Chapel Saint-Bernard, a tiny private chapel dedicated to the patron saint of climbers and Alpinists.
Three of the chalets are interlinked by an interior corridor, while the other two stand independently. All the buildings are made from traditional crafted aged larch wood and flagstones.Behind the cowbell-adorned bedroom doors are six high-tech and extremely comfortable pine-panelled bedrooms and suites, each with a private balcony. No corners have been cut when it comes to the luxurious textiles, fixtures and furnishings throughout the Refuge.
For ultimate escapism, the calming MediSpa offers relaxing treatments using traditional methods as well as high-tech machines. After a day on the slopes, guests can return to the Refuge and head straight into the warming care of the spa where a sauna, hammam, outdoor jacuzzi and relaxing donkey milk bath awaits and then lie back on a natural hay bed. There are also a Japanese Iyashi Dôme, French Stendo devices, Mostleds light therapy and Wellsystem treatments.
In winter the Refuge is all about skiing, but additional activities include a beautiful infinity swimming pool, cinema, boutique, cigar selection and humidor, sculpture trail, bobsled track, snowshoe walks, biathlon shooting, zipline and even a small zoo and a cheese farm... plus golf, once the snow has thawed.
Children will not be disappointed; there’s lots on offer in the way of activities including electric snowmobiles, tobogganing, zip-lines and an art and craft hut.
Some say Hôtel Le Coucou is one of the most beautiful sites in Méribel. In contrast to La Refuge de la Traye and the rest of the Alpine-styled buildings in Méribel, this ski-in, ski-out, super-stylish five-star boutique hotel, mid-century in design by architect Pierre Yovanovitch, is located slope-side at Le Rond-Point des Pistes in Méribel’s residential Belvedere area of town.
We stepped through the front door, under a cobalt-blue domed ceiling joyfully painted with flowers, owls and, of course, a coucou (cuckoo) to be warmly greeted with glasses of champagne and a relaxed check-in, which takes place next to the cosy fireplace.
Le Coucou is a family-owned hotel (part of a small chain owned by the Pariente family,) with 55 guest rooms, including 39 suites and two private chalets.
On a good weather day, the sun hits the terrace in the afternoon, providing the perfect place to unwind, relax or snooze after lunch. It’s also the perfect spot for après ski drinks, watching the sun setting over the mountain peaks while planning the next day’s adventures.
In the evenings, the sixth floor of Le Coucou hosts the refined Biancaneve trattoria (‘white snow’ in Italian), where Italian cuisine is celebrated in the form of antipasti of mozzarella and exceptional charcuterie; sophisticated fresh pasta dishes including mushroom cannelloni; and pizza with stracchino cheese, rucola, prosciutto ham and truffle. Due to high demand, they also offer fondue for guests. After all, as the crow flies, Switzerland is quite close to Méribel.
The concierge can arrange ski passes for guests, and when we returned after a long day on the slopes, attentive boot room staff were there to remove our ski boots before offering a refreshing drink... just what you need after a day on the slopes.
Highly recommended restaurants in Méribel include...
- Le Rastro (Savoyard specialties)
- L’Atelier Raffort (traditional and modern cuisine)
- La Kouisena (traditional wood-fired oven Savoyard cuisine)
- La Coursive des Alpes (modern French cuisine)
- Le 80 (classic and modern French food).
- New ‘on piste’ mountain restaurant, Le Maya Altitude (maya.altitude.com)