As the shiver from the Sauze d’Oulx evening tingled down my spine, we stepped into the reception of the Hotel Chalet Faure and the beautiful warmth from the fiery heating system combined with the welcome, sent the winter chill on its way. The hotel was one of three we visited in the popular ski resort – both in the town and on the piste.
The Chalet Faure was a charming, rustic and intimate hotel which was nicely situated in Sauze d’Oulx’s old town.
Federico Faure, whose family own the hotel, generously greeted us and showed us to our toasty, spacious room. He even invited us to have a drink with him later in Bar Lampione just beneath the hotel.
This friendly welcome extended to all the hotel’s staff, who went out of their way to assist us during our stay in Sauze d’Oulx.
The hotel offered good quality accommodation, was reasonably priced and in a central location. There was a boot room for skiers, while they were also catered for with a hearty breakfast each day.
There was even a spa for guests with a Jacuzzi, steam room, Scottish shower in which you are sprayed alternately with hot and cold water – thought to be great for circulation), relaxation areas and even a solarium. The spa also offers a variety of treatments including sport, ayurvedic, and hot stone massages.
We usually stay in four or five-star hotels, yet in terms of the room and amenities three-star Hotel Chalet Faure offered great accommodation and we would certainly return.
On-piste hotels in Sauze d’Oulx
We were promised an entirely different experience when we spent a night at the Orso Bianco Hotel – located high up in the mountains at Sportinia at 2,000m, and it certainly lived up to expectations. The hotel is a perfect ski-in, ski-out option set besides nursery slopes and just a few metres from chair lifts taking more experienced skiers to slopes at the likes of Col Basset.
We arrived on the last ski lift of the day from Sauze d’Oulx, 45 minutes before nightfall, though those checking into the hotel after the lifts close would arrive by skidoo.
The hotel’s restaurant is a snack bar for skiers by day, and as we arrived, the warm camaraderie of the last few skiers embraced us. We were soon sipping mulled wine while everyone swapped jokes and stories of their adventures that day.
As the slopes closed for the night and the remaining boarders and skiers left the mountain, we enjoyed a fabulous night in splendid isolation in the Italian Alps. Orso Bianco isn’t a hotel with lots of facilities. In fact aside from the restaurant, serving continental and cooked breakfasts each morning, as well as delicious home-cooked meals in the evenings, it’s only other facilities are its well-stocked bar and a lounge purely for hotel guests.
Simone Clataud, who owns Orso Bianco with his British wife Dawn, offered to take us around the mountain on his skidoo. Soon we were swooping up and over the slopes, bright shards of light from the stars in the inky black sky creating a shimmering blanket of snow below us. Only a couple of buildings broke the utter desolation. It was a spectacular experience.
Back at Orso Bianco, two couples and their teenage daughters shared the atmospherically-lit restaurant for dinner with us that night.
After the sort of home-cooked meal any Italian grandmother would be proud of, Nick and Nicky from southern England and Spencer and Lisa from northern England, regular visitors to Orso Bianco, explained what brought them back again and again.
“It’s our little secret,” said Nicky.
“It’s perfect,” agreed Lisa. “We can ski from early morning to late in the afternoon, or pop back into the hotel if we need a rest.”
Both families, experienced skiers who have visited many resorts across Europe, agreed Orso Bianco brought them back with friendly staff, tasty meals, a relaxing setting, and what they considered some of the best skiing in Europe.
Though small – Orso Bianco has just 12 ensuite rooms (four with balconies), with simple décor – the hotel’s charm is in its isolation, and the homely warmth of nights spent beside its open wood fire.
Luxury comes in various shapes and sizes, and though Orso Bianco isn’t exactly a luxury – the luxury of a stay here is its seclusion and family welcome.
Italian style in the Alps
On the other side of Sauze d’Oulx at Clotes is Il Capricorno Hotel, a magnificent four star with 10 rooms, all themed with signs of the zodiac.
Although built in the 1960s, it looks and feels as if it’s from the 1860s. Grand in style and design, Il Capricorno is beautifully furnished and offers old a traditional hospitality.
Located only a short distance from the Clotes ski lift rising from close to the centre of Sauze d’Oulx, Il Capricorno is an ideal location for a luxury skiing trip.
The rooms feature beautiful hand-made wooden furniture and many have balconies though all have views of nearby mountains – Triplex, Bourget and Genevris.
Meals at Il Capricorno underline the fact that this is an upscale Sauze d’Oulx hotel, with a menu of delectable dishes such as Piedmontese-style steak tartare, tajarin in a white meat ragout sauce and capelletti pasta stuffed with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a veal stock broth as well as a fine selection of meat and steak dishes.
Located 1,800 metres above sea level, it is the ideal destination for skiers looking for luxury in a ski-in ski-out location as well as those who love walking in the silence of fragrant forests in summer.
We travelled by train from London to Sauze d’Oulx with Snowcarbon, an aid to booking rail travel to the Alps from the UK, conceived on a tedious flight and transfer to Sauze d’Oulx. The website provides information for skiers to plan their rail journey to a large selection of Alpine ski resorts including resort, rail and transfer details. It not only allows for easy recognition of which train to take but also allows booking of rail journeys to the Alps and features tour operator deals in selected resorts. Fares to Sauze d’Oulx start from £121 standard class return with RailEurope.