One of the great things about skiing is the après ski. It makes sense to not have to go back to your accommodation, get changed and then come out again for a drink or three. With après ski, you can spill into the bar straight off the piste. Manys the time I meant to stay for just one and finished up making a night of it, in my ski gear. The great thing is, everyone else is in ski gear too, so there are never any wardrobe issues. Theres a vibe of togetherness in an après ski bar. The mutual love of skiing and socialising creates a glue that bonds people. A good après ski bar seems to have a more vibrant buzz than a normal bar for this reason. Skiiers bring their high with them, so theyre off to a flyer as soon as they walk through the door. Its been my onerous task to test run many an après ski bar in my quest to impart my opinion. Well, here it is, five of my favourites;
Mooser Wirt, St Anton
Playboy magazine reckons the Mooser Wirt is the mother of all après ski bars they said so. The Mooser Wirt also lays claim to being the best après ski bar in Austria, I for one, wouldnt argue. This is one lively bar, like Ibiza in the snow. DJ Gerhard has been spinning vinyl here since 78s were high tech (ask your grandad). Not really but its a fact hes only missed 12 days in the last 20 years, thats commitment and testament to someone who loves his job and his place of work. As you approach, you can see brightly coloured, bobbing bodies and a forest of skis propped against the perimeter fence, its party central. If you want a quiet bite to eat, the food is wonderful, they start serving at 11 a.m. I suggest you rock up before 2p.m because at 3 p.m. thats when Gerhard cranks up the speakers and starts a four and a half hour set of banging tunes.
La Folie Douce, Val dIsere
The party in Val dIsere starts before you even get off the mountain. You will hear it before you see it, as the infamous La Folie Douce gets the music and the crowds pumping from about 3pm and the place is positively jumping towards the end of the week. Val dIsère has a reputation for some of the liveliest nightlife in the Alps and there are dozens and dozens of bars and night spots to choose from. Everything from a casual beer to the very best champagne but La Folie is my favourite. Situated at the top of the La Daille gondola, the crowd here is wild but friendly.
Can you dance in your ski boots? I throw shapes for sure, not all of them elegant but thats part of the fun. Getting back down the mountain can be tricky, but luckily the La Daille gondola is open for down-lifts if you think youre over the limit. There’s a great restaurant attached to La Folie Douce called the Fruitiere which has a very chilled vibe in contrast to the shenanigans outside, very friendly table service, superb food and a great wine list.
Le Rouge, Verbier
This place has a great ambience. Easily my favourite in Verbier. The restaurant downstairs is lovely and very cosy. Maybe its my appetite after a morning on the piste but I always find the food here moorish and satisfying. The live DJ plays some wicked chilled tunes and the clientele are very friendly. Not as rowdy as some après ski bars Ive visited but I appreciated the great atmosphere, very laid back. I got chatting to a wedding group of about 30 people and they were well happy with the service they received despite being such a big group. Needless to say the staff cant do enough for you. I guess they enjoy being here as much as everyone else, even though its full on for them. Id happily spend every afternoon and early evening here if I were in resort for any length of time.
I love this place, its the location I think that makes the ambience so special. Set on a hillside next to the piste, the venue is surrounded by snow dusted pines with a view, through the trees of Zermatt below. It doesnt have stunning mountain vistas that some après ski bars boast but it setting makes it a cosy little bolt hole. They added an extra terrace last year making for an even larger party. Theres live music and a DJ, and the vibe is happy and friendly.
Head inside and your in another world, great spaces to eat the fabulous food. The decor is lovely and inspirational. Im not sure whether I prefer to be inside or outside but as this blog is about après ski bars, Ill head back outside where the fun is. When the evening draws in and it starts to get dark the vibe in taken up another notch and the setting is even more magical.
Le Rond Point, Meribel
If the saisonnaires (resort staff) head for a bar you know that its tried and tested and it must be the place to be. And head here they do, in droves, its a perennial favourite. Theres live music every night of the week and the bar staff are pretty lively too. Le Ronde Point claims to be the biggest après ski bar in France, the sun terrace is certainly huge.
Ronnie as it is affectionately known, also boasts a great a la carte lunch, so if you want to sit inside in the cosy restaurant on snowy days youll still have a fantastic dining experience. I prefer to sit on the sun terrace. I love to take in the scenery as I eat.
In good weather the main terrace is suntan heaven, being higher up on the sunny side of the valley you can catch the rays until late. In the latter stages of the season the Live Music programme moves outside onto the huge sun terrace with a mix of well-known Ronnie bands and local DJs. Chill out, catch some tunes and enjoy with friends. A trip to Meribel without calling in at Le Rond Point is unthinkable to me now. Highly recommended. Le Rond Point has Wi-Fi too, so you can easily stay in touch and post your selfies to envious friends back home.
Rebecca Taylor is Director at SkiBoutique.
If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.