Forget what you think you know about Courchevel. John Lewisohn recently stayed at Le Portetta in Courchevel Moriond and had his preconceptions challenged in the best possible way.
The Courchevel you may want to keep to yourself
Courchevel has a reputation as the playground of the rich with expensive boutiques full of oligarchs, haute couture skiwear, pricey lunches on the mountainside and skiing coming second to the main activity of shopping and being seen.
If this still takes place then it does so at Courchevel 1850 the largest of the 5 resorts that make up Courchevel.
But there is another world, one I was keen to explore, at Courchevel Moriond. It’s just a ski away, or 10 minutes by bus or taxi at the lower altitude of 1650, and home to Le Portetta a 4-star ski-in-ski-out hotel that turned out to be the ski accommodation of my dreams.
Meet the local wildlife at Le Portetta
Set at the foot of the Belvedere piste, the main run that finishes in the heart of Moriond, Le Portetta is also metres away from the ESF ski school, kids club and themed nursery runs. So it really ticks all the boxes for a family holiday and that’s even before you venture inside.
Warm wood interiors glow in the soft light from big windows and the huge fire that’s lit from morning to night and surrounded on all sides by generously deep sofas resting on antique rugs with shiny reclaimed parquet floors. In short, the perfect place to lounge after a day on the slopes, perhaps with a hot chocolate, a good book or over a board game with the kids.
David Elton, the Hotel Director has a keen eye for design and has populated all public spaces with finds from a local taxidermy auction he came across. S0 you’ll find yourself sharing this welcoming space with a menagerie of boar, deer, and even alpine sheep heads: complete with curved horns.
My coffee cup rested on a table alongside a stuffed mountain muskrat perched on a log. However, the placidly staring creatures aren’t even slightly macabre. Although there was one mouflon which definitely gave me a malign look. “Hey buddy, I wasn’t the one that shot you – sorry.”
Experience Fire & Ice on the largest terrace in Courchevel Moriond
Outside, overlooking the mountains is the largest terrace in Courchevel Moriond where you can experience Fire & Ice: log fires, flaming torches, a wood-fired pizza oven and ice-shots, added to by fur snugs and heated bar seating: great place to meet for apres-ski.
Cucina Angelina sets a new standard for ski resort restaurants
In addition to ice shots on the terrace, Le Portetta also features a long bar with a fabulous array of unique cocktails. This in turn leads into the main restaurant Cucina Angelina, run by the multi-starred Michelin chef Angela Hartnett and her colleague Luke Holder, who also helm the kitchen at the redoubtable Lime Wood hotel in the New Forest.
I can honestly say, Cucina Angelina is hands-down the best food I have ever eaten in a ski resort, or arguably anywhere. I was utterly bereft when I realised I’d eaten my last meal there, it was that good. There are no foams or smears of balsamic vinegar here, instead Angela, Luke and their brigade want to fill you up until every stitch of your clothing is straining. I dutifully did my best to comply, probably piling on a couple of kilos in the process, despite skiing hard all day.
Simple food done this well is a hard trick to pull off
Food is served in antique farmhouse-wide bowl plates, the better to ensure luscious gravies can pool the stews and casseroles that characterize the Alpine-Italian style menu. Simple food done this well is a hard trick to pull off, but pull it off they do from rabbit pappardelle and gnocchi with game ragout to veal haunch with mashed potato. Then come the daily specials, like the best boeuf bourguignon you will ever eat. Fish is flown in daily, think whole dover sole swimming in butter or sea bream carpaccio starters. And to finish up, the cheese board is immense and I can personally recommend the tarte Tatin: I had to be physically restrained from gorging the entire two-person portion.
You can enjoy almost the same menu at lunch, with the addition of pizzas and juicy steaks as well as an extensive children’s menu. Breakfasts run the gamut of great granola, dairy products, fruit and made to order hot dishes from a full fry up to daintier egg dishes. And prices are surprisingly reasonable given the quality, quantity and Courchevel-factor. Although be warned, you may need to be wheeled out, even if you are only half as greedy as I was.
Le Portetta lofts are made for family ski holidays in Courchevel
Accommodation at Le Portetta is laid out over two floors, and after dinner you’ll be thankful for the lift.
All bedrooms are accented in the same tones as the public areas, and each has a wide balcony overlooking the Belvedere piste or the valley below. The beds are huge, and our suite had two bathrooms, complete with toiletries by Bamford, as well as a separate children’s room with sweet bunk beds.
Alternatively, via a separate entrance, Le Portetta offers six lofts, some mezzanines, and all with huge living rooms and wood-burning fires. They feature large kitchens too, but with Cucina Angelina downstairs, its hard to imagine these get used too much. Although they’ll certainly come in handy for snacks, or if your children need something quick and easy. Babysitting can be arranged too.