Are you feeling like a change of scenery?
Then a weekend away skiing Courmayeur in the beautiful Italian Alps could be just what you need.
Escape London’s greyness and spontaneously grab yourself an affordable flight whilst there’s still a good choice this early in the winter season.
But where should you stay? When should you fly? And most importantly (this is Italy after all), which restuarants should you eat at?
Here’s how I’d go about it…
Friday Evening, If You Can’t Take a Day Off Work
Get Out of London
Leave work with a smug look on your face (‘up to much this weekend?’) and head to Terminal 2 to catch the last Swiss flight out at 19.30.
Grab a Snack
Not feeling like a tray of tasteless airline food? It’s a Friday night and you’ve had a hard week, how about checking yourself into Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists’ Cafe for some fantastic fast food? It’s the first place you’ll see after coming through security, and it’s a promise that the pizza will be absolutely delicious.
It’s the only airport restaurant in the world with a wood fired oven – an absolute must to try out. Alternatively you could go for a mixed plate of Iberico hams and salamis, or the best airport burger you’ll ever eat.
Grab a Drink
While you’re at it, have a cocktail on Momentum Ski.
That’s right, if you book a Swiss flight out of Terminal 2 you can have a drink on us.
If you are in a rush then grab one of Heston’s takeaway sandwiches and enjoy it with a glass of wine onboard the aircraft – the salt beef sandwich is particularly wonderful. Friendly staff, speedy service and wicked food and drink – you won’t go hungry on the flight.
You’ll touch down in Geneva at 22.00 and just 90 minutes later, whether you have a private transfer or a car hire, you will find yourself in Courmayeur.
Stay at a Top Notch Hotel That Won’t Break the Bank
If you’re not looking for somewhere overly extravagant to stay and you fancy sticking to an affordable budget but are still craving Italian charm, drop your bags at The Bouton d’Or.
This is a delightful family-run three-star hotel with a cosy alpine ambiance, warm hosts and a tasty breakfast with homemade jams.
Stroll Into Town
The hotel is just a few minutes walk from the centre so, if you’re not too sleepy from the journey, head to the American Bar for a nightcap.
Have a cold beer or two, and if you are still feeling peckish the kitchen is open until 2am, serving pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and crepes!
Feast on an Italian Breakfast
As you open your bleary eyes expecting to be at home, you’ll feel fantastic as reality hits you and you remember you’re in the mountains.
Grab some fresh bread and those homemade jams I mentioned earlier, together with a proper Italian cappucino enjoyed like an Italian, then head up the mountain in your après-ski shoes.
Get Geared Out for the Slopes
You can rent your kit at equipment hire shop Ski In. Lockers are provided, so at the end of the day you leave your skis and boots there and wander back down in comfy shoes.
You will rarely see people clunking around Courmayeur in ski boots after some serious après-ski, as you might expect in most resorts. What a difference it makes when you’re exhausted and aching after a hardcore day on the slopes!
Stop for a Mid-Morning Treat
I won’t get into detail about where to ski on Saturday, but it’s likely that you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly groomed wide pistes without crowds of people. I highly recommend a late morning prosecco stop in one of 27 mountain restaurants.
That’s right, Courmayeur has as many mountain restaurants as ski lifts and – bar one self-service – they are all high-quality waiter-service restaurants.
Take a Lunch Break and Prepare to Be Fed Well
Naturally, the most important decision to make is where to have lunch. I recommend skiing hard and having a late lunch. My shortlist of top eating spots is: Maison Vieille, Chateau Branlant, Chiecco, La Chaumiere, Petit Mont Blanc or Christiania.
The beauty of this resort is that whatever you feel like eating, you’ll be able to find it. If you’re looking for a spit roast, then head for Petit Mont Blanc. Feel like a pizza? Then Christiania is your best option. If it’s grilled meats you’re after, then go to Chateau Branlant. This restaurant is a sure bet for gorgeous food (and large portion sizes!) at a price that won’t hurt your wallet.
Maybe typical Italian antipasti is more up your street and you fancy sampling some local pasta dishes? In which case try Maison Vieille. Chiecco is another absolute classic with exquisite food every time, and if it’s breathtaking panoramas you’re looking for, then choose Chaumiere which houses both a pizzeria and separate restaurant with an excellent a la carte menu.
Quite frankly, no matter where you end up eating you’ll indulge in a perfect meal, so don’t torture yourself too much on where to choose. You’ll just have to come back for another weekend break to test out the places you missed first time round!
Get Involved With the Town’s Après Scene
After lunch don’t feel pressured to burn off those calories and continue skiing – instead, head back into the resort and pop into the resort institution that is Bar Roma. This is a wonderful venue – a big airy space where you can chill on a comfy sofa or armchair for an après-ski drink of your choice.
Oh, and if you’re travelling with Momentum Ski, just make yourself known to owners Renzo or Mariella and enjoy a glass of prosecco on us!
Warm yourself with the local favourite drink, Bombardino. – a mixture of egg-based liqueur, brandy and coffee, served hot with whipped cream. If you’re not feeling too stuffed from lunch, there’s also a free buffet during the late afternoon which changes from afternoon tea format to a great selection of antipasti.
Enjoy an Early Evening Drink
Freshen up back at your hotel before heading to Le Privé for a Negroni (a cocktail made from gin, vermouth, and Campari) and some fabulous canapés. This has a different vibe to the earlier après ski, and you’ll find there’s a slightly smarter crowd.
Other pre-dinner bars to look out for are Le Cadran Solaire (also a restaurant), Caffe Posta and Bar delle Guide.
Always Room for Another Meal
It’s time for another meal! What do you feel like? Death by Pizza at the Pizzeria Tunnel, the beautiful Cadran Solaire with its varied menu for all tastes, or our favourite Italian version of a brasserie that is the Terrazza?
Wine lovers need to go to Aria where Aldo its owner will always surprise you with some incredible wines for your budget level.
Hit the Dance Floor
Once you’re done with dinner, you’ve got to try out the resort nightlife.
Beat That Hangover
The best cure to a hangover, naturally, is getting up on the mountain. Fresh air and gentle skiing will do you wonders. If you like your red runs, carve away.
Or perhaps you are searching for something a little more challenging, in which case take advantage of the serious off-piste potential here. Hire a guide and explore the powder!
Get Home Smoothly
Leave Courmayeur at 17.00 in time to check in for the 20.45 plane which will get you into London Heathrow at 21.25. This will be a much more relaxing and quicker journey than any Sunday night traffic jam back into London.
As you head home in a matter of hours you’ll wonder if you really did leave the country at all! And if you are quick, you’ll make it back in time for a quick Sunday night curry at your local.
Upgrade Your Courmayeur Experience
It’s been rather a foodie weekend beginning with Heston’s café at the airport on the way out. If you fancy something unique and a bit more than a couple’s weekend break, come out with Heston Blumenthal, Marcus Wareing, Sat Bains and Clare Smyth.
Take the opportunity to enjoy a great ski weekend but this time hosted and cooked for by these culinary legends. The event is called Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience, and will take place 8-11 Jan. Spaces are filling up quickly so if you’re interested, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Want to Try Courmayeur for Yourself?
So there you have it – a dreamy weekend away that you can brag about in the office on Monday morning! You’ll fall in love with this unspoilt Italian resort and its charm, and a weekend will definitely not seem long enough.
If you’re interested in experiencing Courmayeur as your next Italian ski weekend, we can make it happen for you. Get in touch today and we can start planning your tailor-made trip to Courmayeur or another of our ever-popular, world-class destinations.
I’d love to hear your feedback, too. Have you ever done a ski weekend in Courmayeur? Or maybe somewhere else? Do you agree with my itinierary?