1 — Terminal Neige Totem, Flaine, France

Flaine was launched in 1969, a futuristic resort designed as a sort of Alpine utopia. Architect Marcel Breuer, fresh from creating the Unesco headquarters in Paris, was given complete creative control, right down to the streetlights and the font for the signs, and his concrete buildings were enlivened by outdoor sculpture by Dubuffet, Picasso and Vasarely. For a while it was the hottest resort in the Alps, but then tastes changed and by the 1990s Flaine, derided as a purpose-built monstrosity, had become a budget family destination filled with small self-catering apartments; the only remaining hotel closed in 2012. 

Now, though, a renewed appreciation of brutalism and mid-century design has put Flaine back in the spotlight. After standing empty for three years, that last hotel has been reborn as the Terminal Neige Totem, under the auspices of the Sibuet group. There’s a distinctly youthful atmosphere — you’ll find vintage arcade games in the huge open-plan living, bar and restaurant area — and a joyfully retro feel, with Breuer’s exposed concrete softened by velvet chairs and colourful woollen fabrics inspired by Navajo designs. €150; terminal-neige.com

2 — Matterhorn Focus, Zermatt, Switzerland

A handful of local architects and designers are trying to redefine this staunchly traditional village, known for its ancient sun-blackened chalets, as a fountainhead of a new Alpine style. Heinz Julen, a leading light responsible for several hotels, is the creative force behind the quirky and industrial-tinged interiors of the Matterhorn Focus. The sloping rooflines and chunky wooden beams echo traditional chalets, but here glass walls make the most of the views — some even have fireplaces set into them. Sitting beside the Matterhorn Express lift station (the cable cars go right past the windows), the Focus has 30 rooms spread over three buildings, plus a spa with a saltwater pool, heated indoor pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. CHF215 (£167); matterhorn-focus.ch

3 — Kimamaya, Niseko, Japan

© Glen Claydon/Kimamaya/Odin Projects

Niseko, on the island of Hokkaido, is the international shopfront of Japan’s ski scene, its celebrated deep, light powder having drawn skiers first from Australia, then across Asia and more recently Europe and the US. Its architecture has evolved along with the influx, developing into a fascinating melting pot of eastern and western styles. Koichi Ishiguro, architect of the Kimamaya, has gone for a Nordic-meets-Zen look, with striking results. A glass-fronted, high-ceilinged barn, inspired by the area’s farming vernacular, houses a restaurant and bar, while the main black timber-clad building contains nine luxurious rooms, including two double-height lofts with mezzanines. Inside, guests are cocooned amid dark grey walls, mossy-coloured furnishings, softly glowing slatted wooden lights and tatami and elm floors. ¥21,000 (£142); designhotels.com

4 — Nira Alpina, St Moritz, Switzerland

A piste-side location and a private enclosed walkway connecting the hotel to the Corvatsch cable car make the Nira Alpina a great option for skiers with no time to waste. The emphasis on easy living continues inside this low-slung hotel, with sheepskin rugs thrown over chairs, roaring log fires and soft cowhide rugs. Large terraces and balconies lend every room some outdoor space, plus there’s a rooftop bar with candlelit tables, an in-house bakery, a spa and even a rustic après ski hut sheltering one long sociable table. CHF283; niraalpina.com

5 — The Cambrian, Adelboden, Switzerland

In 1903, Sir Henry Lunn brought a group here on what was the UK’s first ever package skiing holiday. Then it was known as the Grand Hotel Regina, but it reopened as the Cambrian after total renovation in 2007. The 71 rooms boast designer furniture from the likes of B&B Italia, Porada and Knoll International, and there is an infinity pool with glorious views. CHF215; thecambrianadelboden.com

6 — Rocks Resort, Laax, Switzerland

“Like huge rocks of Valser granite scattered in the valley, creating a monolithic presence,” says Powder Byrne’s Simon Meeke. The cube-shaped stone-clad buildings, created by Domenig Architects, have delivered a stylish, grown-up offering in a resort famed for its youthful snowboard scene. Interiors feature untreated oak, concrete floors and walls and gilded pendant lamps by Catellani & Smith. Two-bedroom apartment from CHF400; rocksresort.com

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Photograph: Glen Claydon/Kimamaya/Odin Projects

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About this series

From high Alpine valleys, to the powder fields of the Rockies and the volcanoes of Hokkaido, choose the perfect base for this winter’s ski holiday in our insiders’ guide, chosen by a panel of travel industry experts.
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