Hotel de Len may look like a modern gingerbread house from the outside, but this is no ordinary Alpine chalet (there are no reindeer motifs, for a start). The mountains aren’t the only things that are invigorating at this Dolomite design den in northern Italy, but they certainly help. The snowy-peak-facing spa on the sixth floor, clandestine cocktails in the downstairs bar and four courses served all at once at the restaurant are complicit, but it’s the special energy-enhancing panels beneath every bed that ensure you’re in perfect relaxed-energised equilibrium. We’d expect nothing less from the sister stay of Puglia palace Borgo Egnazia.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability (in which case, the first two hours are free, then a charge of 50 per cent of one night will be due). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £320.49 (€369), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include breakfast and 60 minutes of spa access (book in advance).
Hotel de Len has two lifts and communal areas that are accessible for wheelchair users, plus two adapted rooms for disabled guests to book.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, ski room, bicycle room. In rooms: central air cooling system, TV, minibar and bespoke bath products from Puglia.
Our favourite rooms
To fully maximise Hotel de Len’s fresh-air-giving potential, book a Premium with Terrace and get inhaling.
The spa on the top floor has the best view in the hotel – and, as if that mountain vista wasn’t tonic enough, there’s a bio-sauna, steam room, ice waterfall, outdoor hot tub, herbal-tea station and even an ‘emotional shower path’ to ensure you’re feeling your best.
Everything you could possibly need for all-season Alpine adventuring (including, if you’re so inclined, trousers that can become shorts) – but you can leave your refillable water bottle at home, as the hotel provides them (along with still and sparkling fountains).
The ski room has a heating machine for your boots and gloves – and for depositing your kit at the end of the day, a portable truck will do the hard work for you.
All ages are welcome – cots for under-2s are free; extra beds cost between €80 night. Babysitting (from €18 an hour) can be arranged if booked in advance.
Everything at Hotel de Len is sustainable, from the reclaimed pine used for the walls to the Magma13 panels (which banish ‘dirty’ electricity) beneath your bed and the sensor-activated lighting. Even the pens are made from 95 per cent pressed paper, instead of plastic. There are water fountains, plus bottles to fill from them in your room, and local suppliers and farms provide much of the restaurant’s ingredients.
It may look like an ordinary meeting room, but the space at the end of the lounge can be transformed into a pristine private-dining area. Or pull up a sociable seat at the speakeasy and compare cocktail notes.
There’s a dining area for breakfast on the ground floor, which is also where you’ll find Restaurant de Len, which, like everywhere else, is a vision of pine-clad perfection. Even though you’re officially allowed to consume double the calories while skiing, the signature dish is the Piatto Quadro – which means ‘square plate’ and allows you try four things all at once without getting too full.
There are plenty of spaces to enjoy a drink, including two bars. For the best cocktails in Cortina, descend to speakeasy-style Bar de Len for all the barrel-aged booze you can manage.
The restaurant is open from noon until 10pm. Bar de Len is open between 7.30pm and midnight.
Dishes can be delivered to your room between 7am and midnight.
Hotel de Len is in the Dolomite town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, north of the Veneto and close to the Austrian border.
There are several places to fly to in order to be within a two-hour drive of the mountains, but Treviso’s Antonio Canova Airport is closest. Other options include Venice Marco Polo and (if you fancy a long but scenic drive, passing both Bergamo and fair Verona) Milan Malpensa. Hotel transfers from either Venice or Treviso start from €340 one way for two guests. From Milan, it’s from €1,030 each way.
The nearest train station is Calalzo-Pieve di Cadore-Cortina, 32 kilometres away. Hotel transfers are upwards of €125 one way for two guests.
Most visitors to these parts get around on skis or walking boots, but if you have come by car, valet parking is available 400 metres away from the hotel. Parking costs €25 a day (€50 for valet).
Worth getting out of bed for
Hotel de Len is in the Dolomites, which means it’s ski central for the well-heeled Milanese and Venetians who love to flock here in their stylish ski gear (which may be an oxymoron for normal people, but is not for them). Between November and April, it’s all about the piste – though there are other landmarks in and around Cortina d’Ampezzo to discover, including Lago di Fedèra and the Fanes waterfalls. Other impossibly photogenic hiking trails include Tre Cime di Lavaredo and up to the turquoise waters of Lago di Sorapis. Handily for anyone averse to bulky gear cramping their style, there’s an equipment-rental shop just over the road. Your local advisor will also be able to arrange husky sledding, snow-shoeing, yoga and woodwork or candle-making classes.
Cortina d’Ampezzo has plenty of fine-dining restaurants for some après-ski indulgence over several courses; try San Brite in an old (and still operating) dairy, or Tivoli, where the catch comes in daily from Venice and Chioggia. If you’re looking to restore the calorie deficit in a more rustic way, stop by Seventies favourite El Camineto at the bottom of the Tofana mountain or the family-run Dolomiti Lodge Alverà.
Go for the food but stay for the wine at Pianozes, on a namesake lake in the woods, which has a 200-bottle-strong selection.
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 hilltop hotel in northern Italy and unpacked their ski boots and salopettes, a full account of their bucolic break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hotel de Len in Cortina d’Ampezzo…
Your wellbeing journey starts before you’ve even checked in to Hotel de Len, in the north of Italy’s Veneto and close to the Austrian border, but it will peak in front of the valley-framing window at the top-floor spa. Each guest is assigned a local advisor, versed in the art of pre-arrival itinerary planning and expert at restaurant bookings. You’re sure of a sound night’s sleep, thanks to tech from a top Swiss university, excelling in the art of removing ‘dirty’ electricity and restoring cleaner air for ultimate relaxation and regeneration. It’s called Hotel of Wood, and they’re not lying – most of it is upcycled too, with the insignia of local families still visible on some of the reclaimed panels. To top it all off, everything smells of childhood sweets and oranges, courtesy of the bespoke bath products and signature scent, crafted all the way down in Puglia. Geppetto would be proud.