An intoxicating take on the traditional ski hotel, Experimental Chalet brings superlative cocktails and Seventies glamour to Swiss ski resort Verbier. Right at the heart of the village, this mountain bolthole is a high-altitude outpost of Experimental Group, the team behind some of Paris’ best cocktail bars and London’s Henrietta Hotel. As much a bon vivant as any of its city-dwelling siblings, the hotel has made good drinking and fine dining its heart and soul. In the restaurant, acclaimed chef Gregory Marchand puts a contemporary lean on traditional Swiss Alpine cuisine, freshening up old favourites like rösti and tartiflette. In the place of a lobby, the bar has become the hotel’s social hub, proving a definitive spot for après-ski soirees. If you’re still going strong at closing time, take the party downstairs to the Farm Club, the cornerstone of Verbier nightlife for over 40 years.
Get this when you book through us:
A cocktail each and VIP entry to the Farm Club (subject to availability)
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $186.51 (CHF183), excluding tax at 3.7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of CHF4.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include a buffet breakfast, which has been lavished with chef Gregory Marchand’s care and attention. Expect homemade granola, fresh pastries, sweet and savoury cakes, waffles, organic bacon and farm-fresh eggs.
The interiors are the work of Paris-based architect and interior designer Fabrizio Casiraghi, whose previous commissions includes lavish Venetian apartments, Parisian boutiques and Hong Kong nightclubs. In his typical style, he hasn’t shied away from combining diverse styles: in the rooms, you’ll see Edelweiss carpets mingled with Twenties furniture and Sixties art.
The hotel usually closes from from mid-April to late-June.
At the hotel
Ski room; concierge service; free shuttle to the slopes; free WiFi throughout; laundry. In rooms: Samsung TV; signature Experimental minibar stocked with homemade cocktails; Geneva retro radio; Amici coffee machine; tea and a kettle; free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
If you’re happy to splash, it has to be the Panoramic Suite, which has a private Jacuzzi and no fewer than three private terraces, each with views over the rooftops and mountains beyond. If you’re a light sleeper, you might want to ask for a room on the higher floors – the hotel has been well soundproofed against any noise from the Farm Club, but it won’t do any harm being a little further away.
Experimental Chalet Spa is on the ground floor, and has three treatment rooms, a Jacuzzi, a hammam and a solarium. For their first ever spa, Experimental Group have collaborated with French skin specialists Biologique Recherche, who’ve been making cutting-edge cosmetics for more than 40 years. The treatments have been designed to make the most of their unique formulas, restoring skin that’s been tested by the Alpine elements.
With the Farm Club just downstairs, you won’t have to trudge through any snow to get there, meaning you can wear not-so-sensible shoes without risk to life and limb.
All of the common areas are wheelchair accessible, and there are three specially adapted rooms.
All ages are welcome, but the cocktail focus makes it more of an adult affair. Some rooms can be connected, and babysitting can be arranged for CHF40 an hour; four weeks’ notice is needed when booking.
Cream cashmere roll necks, suede and mountaineer-style boots will keep you right.
Having already taken Paris and London by storm, Frenchie founder Gregory Marchand knows just what it takes to make regional cuisine sing. As with his other restaurants, it’s the local produce that dictates the menu, not the other way round. Trout is on the menu because it can be line caught in crystal-clear mountain lakes; the tartiflette earns its place because of creamy reblochon cheese from Savoy. Alongside the regular menu, there are sharing dishes cooked en cocotte and light bites that can be ordered throughout the day.
The bar is where a lobby would normally be, turning the ground floor into a cocktail-laced social hub. As with the other Experimental hotels, the drinks are the cornerstone of the experience – a menu of signature and new creations will be on offer, but the barmen are more than capable of going off menu to fulfil a custom request. During the day, post up by the fire or head out to catch a few rays on the sun-soaked terrace; after dark, the bar becomes the perfect prelude to the Verbier’s famous Farm Club, which is just downstairs.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am (11am on weekends). Drinks flow in the bar from 3pm to 2am daily.
One hot dish and two cold dishes are available every day.
Experimental Chalet is in the heart of Verbier, minutes from the ski lifts.
The closest place to touch down is Sion, which can be reached directly from London’s City and Heathrow airports. There’s only one flight a week, though, so most people fly into Geneva (three hours’ drive) instead. The hotel can arrange transfers for €250 from Sion or €600 from Geneva.
If you’d rather go by rail, hop on a service to Sion at Geneva (you can catch the train from the airport station, saving the need for a trip into town). The journey takes around an hour and 45 minutes, passing plenty of mountainous scenery on the way. The hotel can arrange for a driver to collect you from Sion for €250.
You won’t need your own car in the village, which is easy to get around on foot. If you do want to hire at the airport, the Smith24 team can arrange it; the hotel has valet parking for CHF40 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Most guests will be hitting the slopes or trails during the day, which is why the hotel have lavished particular attention on the experience at first and last light. Mornings begin with Greg Marchand’s breakfasts, which balance gourmet-quality cooking with the reality that a day in the mountains demands extra energy. On your return in the afternoon, you’ll find the bar and terrace in full swing, with guests sipping craft cocktails as they soak up the last of the day’s sun. After dark, the bar becomes a destination in itself, but night owls will find it makes a suave precursor to famous after hours spot The Farm Club, which is just downstairs.
The greatest attraction is the resort itself – Verbier is the largest village in Les 4 Vallées, which has more than 400km of groomed piste, ensuring something for skiers of all abilities. What’s more, the vast majority of runs face south, so when it’s sunny, it’ll stay that way pretty much all day. Seasoned skiers will be aware of the resort’s reputation as a free rider’s paradise – Verbier has some of the best lift-served off piste in the world, and holds the final stage of the Freeride World Tour. If you want to guaranteed fresh tracks no matter what time you get out of bed, book a heliskiing session with Adrenaline, whose team of expert guides will tailor the routes to your ability. In summer, that 400km of piste is turned over to hiking and mountain biking. Others get their kicks rock-climbing or canyoning, but for a real natural high, try skydiving or paragliding over the surrounding peaks – you won’t get a better view of Mont Blanc anywhere else.
If you’re looking for a place on the slopes, try Chez Dany, a Verbier mainstay since 1936. The classic mountain-hut interiors exude warmth and cosiness on the coldest of days, but when the sun’s shining, the terrace is the place to be (ask for a fur rug if it gets chilly). The menu is full of hearty Swiss classics – röstis, cheese fondues and steak served on a hot stone. Down in the village, burger joint Le Shed takes a more modern approach to chalet chic, with blackened-steel chairs and low-hanging lamps adding an industrial edge. The burgers are some of the best in town, made with locally sourced beef and freshly baked buns – if you’re still not convinced, the restaurant’s signature chilli and parsley fries should seal the deal. For a fine-dining dinner, book a table at La Grange, opting for their ‘gourmet menu’. The cuisine tours the wilder regions of Europe, with Swiss specialities like Simmental veal served alongside Scottish lamb and Norwegian king crab. The wine cellar is stocked with some of Switzerland’s best vintages, including bottles from the high-altitude vineyards in Valais.
You won’t find anywhere with better cocktails than the hotel.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this ski hotel in Switzerland and unpacked their Moncler roll necks, a full account of their Alpine break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Experimental Chalet in Verbier…
Like many Swiss ski resorts, Verbier is no stranger to glamour – but until the arrival of Experimental Chalet, it couldn’t have claimed to have a hotel that was quite so dedicated to a cocktail lifestyle. Like its siblings – which include Experimental Cocktail Club, Curio Parlour and the Henrietta Hotel – this mountain bolthole has one founding principal at its core: to celebrate the art and artistry of cocktails. That might not sound like enough for a hotel to go on, but it’s really just the beginning, because an inspired drink deserves a setting with both head-turning design and an enticing atmosphere.
In order to ensure the first, the hotel turned to Parisian-based architect Fabrizio Casiraghi, who at 31 years old has already created a signature style. Mingling furnishings and art from different eras and continents, he blends the local with the exotic; Experimental Chalet is no different, drawing inspiration from Twenties, Thirties and Sixties – think shell-shaped lamps next to streamline moderne curves. Creating an atmosphere is a trickier business, but Experimental Chalet have it all sewn up by ensuring the hotel attracts the best possible class of bon vivant. To complement the drinks, the food is by Gregory Marchand, lauded chef behind famed Parisian eatery Frenchie, which has also taken Covent Garden by storm. And then there’s the fact that the basement is home to the most famous nightclub in Verbier, the Farm Club, a one-time hangout of David Bowie and Diana Ross…
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