Everything you need to know before visiting Verbier

From fine-dining to alternative activities, here’s our snow-dusted guide to visiting the main resort of the 4 Vallées ski area…

For most of the year in Verbier — perhaps the most handsome village in south-western Switzerland — the population numbers just shy of 3,000. But, when the snow starts to fall, and the steep slopes and endless runs get a deep dusting of powder, the premier off-piste resort can count over 35,000 residents.

It’s a welcome invasion, however, as the alpine destination — a popular place amongst skiers since 1925 — has spent the better part of a century equipping itself for adventuring, après-ski activities and some of the best-respected snowsports in Europe. From the mogul fields of Mont Fort and Plan du Fou to the finest suites of its grande dame hotels, here’s where to stay, what to eat and how to live when visiting Verbier…

How to get there…

First up; let’s get you out to the Alps. Once you’ve packed your puffer and zipped up your skis, you’ll have to decide how to make the trip from the city to the slopes. The quickest way, naturally, is to fly. If you’re based in Britain, all major hubs (Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham) have direct flights to Geneva, with a trip from Heathrow in London taking just over 1h 30m.

But, if you’re based in the British capital, we’d recommend shelling out a little more and flying from Gatwick to the lesser-known Sion Airport. Slightly south of the Rhone Valley, this airport is under an hour’s drive from Verbier. And what a drive it is: frostily forging your way through Valais to the resort is a treat. If you’re really revved up for a roadtrip, you could even drive the entire way (providing you own a mountain-ready motor).

Train travel is also an option — offering you the chance to wend past through snow-dusted scenery without worrying about keeping your eyes on the road. Eurostar and Travelski offer packages that’ll whisk you from St Pancras to either Bourg-Saint-Maurice or Moûtiers — from where you can hop on another train to Le Châble, the nearest train station to Verbier, where a lift will take you all the way into the centre of Verbier in just 10 minutes.

Where to stay…

Verbier’s W Hotel

Once you’ve parked or disembarked, it’s time to find a hotel. Because, whilst there are plenty of private lodges available in Verbier (if you want this personal, more exclusive experience, we’d suggest checking out Le Collectionist or Bramble Ski), it’ll pay to check into one of the village’s varied and distinguished hotels. Here are some of our favourite spots.

W Verbier: Perched at 1,531 metres, perhaps the most ritzy hotel in the area combines traditional styling with a modern, chic experience. There are 123 rooms and suites, each with a fireplace, signature ‘W’ bed and private balcony — and the hotel offers a selection of packages depending on your interests. (From £539 per night).

Hôtel de Verbier: A newly renovated, four-star hotel in the centre of Verbier, the charm here is the variety of rooms on offer. Whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family or in a small group, there is accommodation to cater for everyone. With the atmosphere of a family-run establishment, it’s quaint and cosy. (From £225 per night).

The spa at Cordée des Alpes

The terrace at Hôtel de Verbier

A suite at Le Chalet d’Adrien

Cordée des Alpes: Another four-star boutique hotel, this smaller option has 32 luxury rooms to choose from — as well as 17 high-end, lavishly appointed apartments. There’s a chic brasserie restaurant downstairs, a ski room, a lounge bar and a beautiful spa featuring pool, sauna, jacuzzi and fitness suite. (From £164 per night).

Le Chalet d’Adrien: For a completely classic option, this stalwart of the snowy destination will transport you back to mid-century ski seasons. Built from sturdy wood and perennially topped with fresh powder, Le Chalet d’Adrien offers the best, most breathtaking views of any Verbier hotel — and has the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Val de Bagnes. (From £421 per night).

What to eat and drink…

The terrace at Chalet d’Adrien

You’re unpacked, and ensconced in a sublime suite somewhere off Place Centrale. So now what? Easy — it’s time to eat. Verbier may have just one Michelin-starred restaurant (which is well worth a visit), but the bustling, burgeoning food scene encompasses many cuisines. So, whether you’re looking for some spice and far-flung flavours — or if you’re just happy lapping up fondue — there’s something for every tastebud in town.

La Table d’Adrien: If fine-dining’s your thing, your first stop post-slopes should be this sublime, starred establishment. With food inspired by the mountains, lakes and rivers that surround Verbier, the menu changes seasonally — and currently offers dishes including Roasted Pigeon Fillet and Black Truffle Braised Veal Sweetbreads with Vadouvan Spices.

Eat Hola Tapas Bar: In the W Verbier, this immersive tapas bar does feature in the Michelin guide — even if it doesn’t have a star to its Spanish-inspired name. The best seat in the house is on the front row behind the elegant bar table, where you’ll see chef Sergi Arola’s theatrical team prepare plates from Torched Wagyu Tataki to Salmon Tiradito.

Bo!: Another eatery found within the W Verbier, ‘Bô?’ or ‘Bô!’ is a local phrase used to indicate surprise or astonishment. You’ll feel the same sensation the moment you sit down for your meal — as every edible experience in this global restaurant tells a story through flavour. This winter, rare root vegetables are at the centre of the menu.

La Marlénaz: Like Le Chalet d’Adrien above, La Marlenaz should be the go-to gastronomic choice for any traditionalists. Located at a heady altitude of 1,895 metres, the dishes are classics of the region: Veal Medallion and Morel Mushrooms; Bagnarde Salad; Bruson Cheese Rösti with Bacon and Egg.

The dining room at Bo!

Fer à Cheval

Bar 1936: When it comes to slopeside sipping, there are few finer, more flocked-to drinking dens than Bar 1936. So-named for its altitude, the place consists of two yurts, a buzzy atmosphere and a well-stocked wine list including a Dôle Blanche from Philippe Varone, a Gamay from Domaines Rouvinez and a local Swiss Humagne Rouge.

Fer à Cheval: Restaurant by day, bar by night, this wood-panelled hideaway makes the perfect after-dark haunt for less-discerning drinkers. The wine list is impressive enough, but we’d suggest sticking to the easy-sinking ‘Valaisanne’ — a locally made lager. Add a pizza from the expansive Italian menu, and you’ll be recharged after a day carving down La Croix-de-Coeur.

What to do…

Which brings us to the main alpine event; skiing. With more than 80 lifts in and around Verbier — which give you access to over 400km of runs at altitudes of up to 3,330 metres — the village is the ideal base for sportsmen of any level. And, whether you choose to take in the views from Les Esserts or enjoy the versatile slopes at Savoleyres, a 4 Valleys ski pass is the perfect way to explore the area.

But Verbier’s snowsporting charms don’t begin and end with traditional skiing. While you could easily spend your entire alpine break on the established sporty slopes, the village also offers access to 22 snaking kilometres of pisted cross-country skiing tracks — which are well worth your time and energy.

Alternatively, unstrap those skis completely and enjoy another of Verbier’s wintry activities. We’d particularly recommend paying Aline Luisier a visit; a local who owns sixteen huskies and can offer you the chance to become a musher for a day. Her panoramic tour is a relaxing, 5km trip through snow-white surroundings on a sledge drawn by ten dogs. It costs 160 CHF per person.

But perhaps the most memorable activity on offer allows you to see the village of Verbier — and the surrounding valley — from the air. Counting clients from Bill Gates to Sir Richard Branson, Verbier Summits Paragliding will give you a new perspective on the Swiss Alps, and can show you the skies in any way you choose — from a gentle glide over majestic glaciers to a thrilling aerobatic flight. It’s an excellent way to experience this extraordinary, world-famous destination.

Want some more skiing tips? From gloves to goggles, here’s the James Bond guide to skiing style…

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