Far from the battery cloned chalets and mega ski apartments lies a quiet corner of the Haute Savoie facing Mont Blanc, an authentic escape to Alpine heaven in summer or winter.
The charming village of Saint-Nicolas-de-Véroce is a genuine, living and breathing community with a primary school, a bakery (more on that shortly), a Mairie, a Baroque church famous throughout the region, and now, a discreet five-star luxury boutique hotel: The Armancette.
Built from local wood and granite, roofed and decorated in traditional style, you could be forgiven for thinking this was just a large luxury chalet, so careful have they been with the construction and the understated design in the very heart of the quaint village. Although you would not recognise it, the local bakery once stood on this site. But fear not, the hotel continues the tradition and now serves freshly baked bread (and some of the finest croissants I’ve ever tasted) to residents and locals alike.
With just seventeen bedrooms, a bar, salon de thé, restaurant, state of the art gym and spa with an indoor/outdoor pool, the atmosphere is welcoming and intimate. The décor is a testimony to local designers and craftsmen and to local architect Gilles Grandjacques. His crystal-clear vision is evident in the subtle attention to details; pleasing muted background tones with splashes of colour, stunning use of marble, granite, brushed wood and lauze flagstones, all enhanced by the soft warmth of bedroom fabrics such as wool and velvets. The effect is beautiful, undemonstrative yet oozing quality – each bedroom has its own unique colour palette and is adorned with stylish Italian furnishings. There are several combinations of suites and multi-occupancy rooms to accommodate small groups and families in the most flexible way. Some have outdoor balconies and on one side of the hotel the views of the Mont Blanc range are spectacular. The bathrooms can only be described as a kind of tribute to world geology, with so many exquisite combinations of numerous marbles, granites, quartzes and other natural stones.
The hotel restaurant, la Table d’Armante, offers relaxed dining and a menu created by renowned chef Antoine Westermann.
The owner and investor behind The Armancette had childhood and family connections in the valley and has a personal vision to avoid spoiling the precious authenticity of the village atmosphere. Coming soon, expect to find more accommodation, another informal restaurant across the road, a ski shop and three prestigious chalets offering direct access to ski slopes.
In summer the village is a great base to explore the numerous walking and hiking trails which lead through wild flower filled pastures and old farmsteads where herds of Abondance cows, bred for making Reblochon cheese, meander along ancient tracks, their bells jingling as they head up the valley for their twice daily milking. In winter, a hotel shuttle takes you to the local chairlift from where you can ski to your heart’s content on some of the finest Alpine pistes, or you can explore the snow-powdered fairy-tale scenery on foot and enjoy some of the magnificent winter views by taking the vintage two-person pedestrian chairlift which leaves the village for the higher slopes.
This corner of paradise is 1hr 20min from Geneva airport, or 2hr 10mins from Lyon airport.
From 390 Euros for a standard room in summer.
For more information visit www.armancette.com