Before arriving at Chalet Le Grenier in Meribel, France, I had a good peruse of the gallery section of its website and was mightily impressed.
Though I couldn’t help but think at the time ‘very nice, but you had me at “Perrier-Jouët Champagne served at any time of day”’.
I found that line in the ‘what’s included’ section and was immediately sold, being partial to a smidgen of fizz-based decadence.
Make yourself at home: The enormous living room area of Chalet Le Grenier
Chalet Le Grenier is run by Consensio – an elite Alpine chalet operator favoured by the extraordinarily wealthy
It’s no empty promise, either. The staff always have a fresh bottle to hand and the emphasis on Champagne quaffing is driven home by a wall of (unopened) champagne bottles that greets you as you descend from the top-floor foyer to the living room below.
Eye-catching. As is just about everything else about the property.
But that’s no surprise, because it’s run by Consensio – an elite Alpine chalet operator favoured by the extraordinarily wealthy.
Le Grenier is the latest addition to Consensio’s portfolio of 12 chalets in the French Alps – it opened this winter season – and costs from £29,500 for the whole six-suite chalet (you can’t book individual rooms)
This is the TV snug off to the side of the living room. The room to the right is a study containing two iMac computers
Le Grenier is the latest addition to its portfolio of 12 chalets in the French Alps – it opened this winter season – and costs from £29,500 for the whole six-suite chalet (you can’t book individual rooms).
And just what do you get for that hefty price? Let me grab my Champagne and give you a tour… you’ll be impressed.
Let’s ascend to the upper floor, first – a games room with a snooker table, a 55in TV, comfy sofas and a balcony. It’s from here that we watch a firework display the staff organise on the last night.
The aforementioned foyer below – street level – connects to a boot room and offers a bird’s-eye-view of the main living area, which you’ll notice is striking. And enormous.
Guests enter the living room via these stairs – and they’re greeted by a wall of Perrier-Jouët Champagne
Mouthwatering design: The dining area is impossibly cosy. Breakfast and dinner is served here
Let’s go down for a closer look.
Note the ginormous glass doors that offer a panoramic mountain view, the huge fireplace and slate chimney, the massive sofas, the Ralph Lauren blankets and the over-sized armchair.
Behold, too, the dining area and its lovely wooden table and the TV snug off to the side and its lush purple sofa.
There’s a study here, too, with a pair of iMacs.
After a hard day on the slopes guests can decompress in the plunge pool and sauna
Ted’s bedroom was five-star stylish – and was always made-up while he was at breakfast
Suite life: The bedroom bathrooms are eye-catchingly smothered in marble tiling
GREAT ON-THE-SLOPES EATERIES IN MERIBEL
Le Clos Bernard, pictured, is in a magical woodland setting
If you fancy eating in style in Meribel allow me to suggest two top, very contrasting, restaurants.
One is La Fruitière at La Folie Douce, a very good restaurant that’s part of the hard-partying on-piste venue famous for its champagne-spraying guests and its tradition of insisting everyone dances on the tables till the sun goes down.
The other is Le Clos Bernard, a boutique-y Alpine restaurant hidden in the woods near Meribel’s dinky airport that you reach by gliding along tracks and tiny paths. I’ve visited resorts from Aspen to Niseko in Japan and this is honestly one of the best on-mountain restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. Magical location and superb food and wine.
The bedrooms are on the two levels below this and the standards never waver.
It’s all five-star hotel level, with thick velvet curtains, lavish linen and marble-tiled bathrooms. And a word here about the loo roll – I never realised it could be quite this soft.
Finally, it’s a warm welcome to the spa on the lowest floor, which contains a mini gym with a treadmill, a massage room, a sunken plunge pool and a sauna.
In all, it’s 550 square metres (5,920 sq ft) of luxury, with its look designed by Alpine specialist Nicky Dobree.
Outdoor life: Le Grenier has a huge terrace – and a few gigantic candles, as this image shows
MERIBEL AND THE 3 VALLEYS
Meribel lies in the largest connected ski area in the world – the jaw-dropping Three Valleys (Les Trois Vallees).
There are 600km (372 miles) of pistes running between eight individual resorts, the most famous of which are Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens.
It’s almost painful to type this phrase because it’s so cliched, but there’s no way around it, there really is something for everyone here, whether you’re a hardcore skier or boarder or just like pootling along gentle greens and blues.
Courchevel is perhaps the mellowest of the resorts, with some enchanting forested runs, while Val Thorens, which harbours the highest point at 10,500ft, offers something a bit more challenging. Though its lack of tree cover means it’s not so great in bad weather.
She’s gone for a cosy Scandi-chic aesthetic – lots of slate, lots of grey – which pleases the eye and warms the heart.
But the Consensio experience is about far more than opulence – it’s about top-level service and food.
And there’s no faltering at Le Grenier.
The hosts, Jake, Beth and Celine, are impeccably trained. I notice, for instance, that they whisper to each other when they’re around guests, which is definitely not the modus operandi of the average chalet host.
I’m also impressed with the way that someone scampers down to the rooms during breakfast and makes them up. I never see who it is – some sort of cleaning ninja.
The chef, George Ormond, meanwhile, is a revelation. He rustles up some extraordinary dishes, including sous vide venison and truffled celeriac purée; ‘cereal milk’ panna cotta, butter biscuit crumb with red vein sorrel; and pea, broad bean and ricotta tortellini, with pea and broads bean fricassee.
The top floor of Le Grenier houses a games room, a TV area and a slope-facing balcony
And relax… Massages can be arranged – and take place in yet another stylish room
The chalet’s delicious meals can be burned off in the gym, which boasts a bike machine and treadmill
Even the chalet’s boot room has the designer look. There’s a ski lift almost opposite this door. But guests can also request a lift to the resort centre
The foyer: This is where guests enter. From here you can look down onto the living room
Fired up for fun: The view from the foyer to the living room’s frankly enormous slate chimney
The cooking at the chalet is top notch
His cooking is so accomplished that when we ask him his age and he tells us he’s 20, there is a collective cry of astonishment. Luckily I’m sitting down – drinking Champagne – otherwise I’d need to steady myself.
Consensio should pay him whatever he demands.
When you throw into the equation the fact that Le Grenier is across the road from one of the chairlifts – Morel – that takes you to the world’s biggest ski area, one is forced to declare it a winner.
Ok, yes, there is one niggle – the plug points beside my bed are hidden behind the bedside tables, which is a bit irritating. And a bit odd given that everything else seems so carefully thought out.
But even so, I can only conclude that unlimited Champagne or not, it’s clear to see why the one per cent are 100 per cent enthusiastic about the Consensio way.