In north-eastern Italy’s Dolomite ski area of Alta Badia, luxury hotel Rosa Alpina makes you a part of the Pizzinini family, who’ve run the ski lodge for three generations. The classic San Cassiano chalet has offered refuge to travellers crossing these mountains since 1939. Traditional Tyrolean design (wood-panelled ceilings, antiques and shiny chandeliers) is what makes it so charming, but over the years modern additions have arrived (NB: the granite fireplace making the library so much cosier). When chef Norbert Niederkofler returned home to the region, bringing his St Hubertus restaurant with him, he set alight a culinary revolution – don’t be surprised if your fellow guests are here for the Michelin-starred dishes, not the mountains.
Get this when you book through us:
A food and drink credit of €75 a room to be used during your stay
Double rooms from £557.20 (€629), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.50 per person per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of €0.86 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include buffet breakfast.
Pilates and yoga classes are held regularly, for an additional cost.
The hotel closes annually from the beginning of April until the start of June, and from mid-October to the first week of December.
At the hotel
Gym, shuttle to the ski lifts, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, minibar, Pure Green bath products and free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
For something cosy and spacious, go for a Junior Suite, and make it one with a balcony to really make the most of being in the mountains. We also loved the Penthouse, which seamlessly brings together classic chalet decor and more modern design details.
There are two indoor pools at the spa, one for adults only and another where the kids are allowed in too.
The spa has a steam room, sauna and 10 treatment rooms. Book in for Clarins and Murad treatments, including Thai massages, reflexology, anti-ageing facials and full-body wraps.
With mountain air this fresh to inhale, you’re going to want to get regular lungfuls – bring altitude-appropriate clothing, ski gear in winter and hike-ready footwear.
The restaurant and bar are mostly accessible for wheelchair users (there’s one small step), and there are specially adapted rooms that can be reached by lift.
Canine companions weighing no more than 35kg can come along for €35 a night, but they’ll have to give the spa, pools, gym and fine-dining restaurant a miss. The hotel will supply a water bowl, cookies and a blanket. See more pet-friendly hotels in San Cassiano.
All ages are welcome. Extra beds and baby cots can be added to rooms, and interconnecting rooms are available. Babysitting is €25 an hour (minimum three hours), but a month’s notice is often needed. Little Smiths can dine everywhere except St Hubertus.
The hotel works with local producers for its seasonal, organic produce, the rest of which is grown on-site; and eco-friendly cleaning products and light bulbs are used. Discarded spa flip-flops are sent to an NGO that works with a migrant centre in the region to be repurposed.
Go for a seat by the windows to admire the forest at breakfast, or sit out on the terrace at Wine Bar & Grill to watch the village world go by.
Chalet girl (and boy).
There are several, running the full range from pizzeria to dazzling gastronomy. The star is Norbert Niederkofler’s St Hubertus, which has been attracting gourmands to the Dolomites since 1996. His ‘cook the mountain’ philosophy focuses on local produce, suppliers and dishes, to create plates like sweetbreads with bitter herbs and pine, beetroot gnocchi and veal tongue with lingonberries. If you like a wine pairing, you’ve come to the right place: there are 1,700 bottles on the list. Wine Bar & Grill is more relaxed, and where to head for wood-fired pizzas and traditional Italian dishes. Fans of melted cheese will be thrilled to hear that there’s a dedicated fondue restaurant, where you can dip away in molten formaggio followed by liquid chocolate for pudding. The breakfast buffet at La Limonaia has its own gluten-free area, along with an egg station, lots of different breads and fresh fruit.
The lounge bar has all the classic cocktails, along with some of the in-house mixologists’ preferred muddles. Light bites are served here if you’ve had one too many.
Breakfast hours are 7am to 10.30am. Wine Bar & Grill opens from 11am to 10pm. Fondue Stube serves from 6.30pm to 10pm, but your fondue of choice must be ordered by 5pm. St Hubertus’s dinner service is 7pm to 9.30pm. The bar hours are 10.30am to midnight.
A menu of salads, sandwiches and, er, strudels can be served in your room on request.
Rosa Alpina is in the South Tyrol comune of Badia, surrounded by snow-capped Dolomite peaks and ski-able slopes in the village of San Cassiano.
There are a handful of airports within reach. Landing at Innsbruck, around a two-hour drive away, or Venice (a three-hour drive) is your best bet. Hotel transfers from Innsbruck start from €380 one-way. From Venice hotel transfers cost from €420. There’s also the small regional Bolzano, an hour’s drive away.
The next town along is Bressanone (AKA Brixen), a 70-minute drive from Rosa Alpina. Wheels will be useful for touring these twisty mountain passes, but you won’t need any if you’re planning to get around by ski. There’s free valet parking at the hotel
For private-jet landings and incoming choppers, contact the hotel before you arrive.
Worth getting out of bed for
There are three restaurants to work your way through at the hotel, including chef Norbert Niederkofler’s superstar St Hubertus. Choose a spa treatment to soothe sore limbs after days out hiking or skiing, or self-medicate with a cocktail on the terrace.The Dolomites are all yours for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and hiking and cycling in the summer. Hike up to Lake Lagazuoi to see the peaks reflected in the clear blue water; and if it’s warm enough, jump in for a dip.
For barbecued ribs, sausages and vegetables along with some typical Tyrolean dishes, take refuge at Scotoni Mountain Hut, accessible on skis in winter and on foot in summer. Rifugio Edelweiss is a great lunch spot in the mountains – even better, they’ll also fetch you from the village in a snowcat and whisk you up for weekly suppers. On the off chance you possibly have room after your elaborate evening meal at St Hubertus, head over to Ciasa Salares, where there’s a chocolate room with 40 variations and a cheese room with 70 types of milk curds for post-dinner research.
Join in with the après-ski crowd at La Sieia, or just find a cosy corner of the lounge bar and sip wine by the fire – order some cheese (fresh from the restaurant’s farm) when you’re peckish.
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 the Dolomites and unpacked their salopettes and ski jackets, a full account of their active break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Rosa Alpina in South Tyrol…
The Dolomites of north-eastern Italy are so remote they have their own language – Ladin is spoken by the 30,000 or so people who inhabit these provinces near the Austrian border. In South Tyrol’s ski area of Alta Badia, luxury hotel Rosa Alpina has been providing shelter to weary mountain travellers for almost a century now. It’s been in the safe hands of the Pizzinini family for three generations, and it’s got Italian hospitality and charm in spades – hence all those repeat guests. The classic chalet has been gradually modernised over the years, but it still has its timeless timber walls, crackling fires and fondue-only restaurant. Back in the Nineties, superstar chef Norbert Niederkofler returned to the region, setting up his now-famous St Hubertus that launched Alta Badia’s starry culinary creds (there’s currently one Michelin star for every 172 inhabitants). He’s also responsible for the pizzas coming out of the wood-fired oven and the grilled meats at the hotel’s more casual restaurant. It’s safe to say there’s plenty of post-piste calorie-restoring on offer here. We’re not quite there with our Ladin, so Italian will have to do: buon appetito.