The Alpina Hotel is all about the juxtaposition of modern and old, blending cutting edge architecture with traditional materials, which altogether makes for a comfortable experience in chic surroundings.
And this is typically Chamonix, a working town that packs a very real punch way beyond the faux architecture of many purpose built resorts. From the moment you walk in, the Alpina doesn't disappoint on this score, with hints to the past and to Chamonix's heritage as a mountaineering mecca perfectly offset by modernist interiors and not a sign of alpine cliches in sight. To the left of reception there's a small games room and to the right (just past the free sweet stall) a vast bar area complete with pool table and plenty of options for seating. There's also a small grocery section where you can stock up on local cheese and pick up a sandwich to eat up the mountain.
If you've forgotten ski essentials you'll be glad of the handy ski shop, which is stocked with accessories as well as offering a small range of equipment for hire. There is, of course also the obligatory boot room in the lower level of the hotel. All in all there's a welcoming, warm vibe here and the owners have ensured that guests are well served for their stay.
The bedrooms follow the same design principles as the rest of the hotel, the most impressive feature being the surprising amount of space in the superior family rooms with little additional cost over a standard double. In these rooms you'll find a double bed that can be split into a twin and a separate sofa bed, together providing ample space for both sleeping and relaxing.
The interiors are modern and bright, making use of colourful furnishings offset by relaxing lighting and swathes of wood panelling. All but the standard double or twin bedrooms have their own generous balcony accessed through glass doors, offering a great view to the town and mountains beyond. In addition to the usual tea and coffee making facilities all bedrooms benefit from a Nespresso coffee maker,and the bathrooms are well appointed, with high-end fixtures and fittings and a walk in shower with good pressure and plenty of hot water on tap.
Relaxing is easy in the Alpina, with a spa complete with sauna, jacuzzi, gym and relaxation area. As with the rest of the hotel there's a focus on glass facades allowing you to soak in the panoramic views of the vast landscapes and imposing mountains. Well equipped, clean and tidy, the spa never seems overly busy and you can opt for extra treatments (at extra cost) if you fancy spoiling yourself.
The panoramic restaurant sits on the top floor of the hotel and has been beautifully designed. Once again the feature that most impresses is the architecture of the building, which embraces light and a connection with the outdoors from huge glass panels, giving 180 degree views of your mountain playground. The food ain't half bad either, breakfast is a buffet and there's a lot of choice, with everything from cooked meats to granola's and fruit salad for more health conscious visitors. Dinner mixes traditional Savoyard cuisine (think tartiflette and raclette) with more contemporary options with South American, Asian and European influences.
Situated towards the northern end of the main shopping and dining streets the location of the Alpina is perfect if you want to immerse yourself in the town but is a walk or bus ride from the ski lifts. The famous Folie Douce is just up the road, for a very special apres ski experience with a twist, and there's a bus stop just opposite the hotel for the daily schlep to the slopes. Chamonix, being a genuine working mountain town has a different set up to purpose built ski-in ski-out resorts, and as such you'll have to earn your turns, even if they're lift accessed. But with five different ski areas in the surrounding mountains with a total of 145km of pistes offering everything from cruisy blues to some of the most extreme skiing in the Alps, you're still spoilt for choice.
A stay at the Alpina Hotel, Chamonix costs from £70 per night for two adults sharing. For more information and to book, visit alpinachamonix.com