As far as ski resorts go, few top what Maisons Pariente have created in Meribel with their family-run chalet hotel Le Coucou. Le Coucou was the third instalment to the family-run hotel group Maison Parente’s entity. Now, there’s a dynasty of 5-star hotels located in all the coveted French hotspots. Perched on the slopes of Meribel, this skier paradise breaks all the moulds of traditional alpine establishments, adopting a contemporary approach to mountain interiors that presents its artsy character, alluring a trendy crowd from across the globe. Inside this refined 55-key hotel you’ll find three equally divine restaurants, a cosy bar to hunker down with a vin chaud, a spa equipped to soothe tired legs after a day on the slopes and an above-par kids and tween club making it ideal for families.
Hotels in the French Alps tend to follow a cookie-cutter design, with hallmark alpine interiors that are comforting nonetheless but maybe you’re ready to experience a fresh perspective. Breathing new life into the mountains, Le Coucou’s choice of fabrics and bespoke furnishings showcases Maisons Pariente’s contemporary design-led flair, woven into their entire portfolio of hotels across France. Created to capture the essence of a family vacation retreat, reflecting the places founding sister duo, Lesley and Kimberley visited during their childhood, Le Coucou’s design evokes a playful style that’s chic without feeling obsequiously opulent, retaining that cosy feeling you crave after a day spent in sub-zero temperatures. French interior designer, Pierre Yovanovitch is the creative behind the vision, translating his eye for design with signature pieces including his bouclé-coated bear armchairs and abstract honeymoon sconces. Locally sourced pinewood forms the foundations, vibrant murals embellish the domed ceiling in the reception and the elevators, richly pigmented tones of terracotta and teal are recoiled throughout and an extensive collection of artwork is on show.
Skiing doesn’t get much better than Meribel, planted in the centre of the Three Valleys, the largest ski area in France. A-la Goldilocks; Courchevel is a bit too swanky, Val Thorens is a bit too party-fuelled, but Meribel is just right…and the beauty is that you’ve got free reign to ski across them all. The luxury of ski in-ski-out doesn’t stop piste-side at Le Coucou, the staff are always waiting in the wings to not only lay out your skis on the snow but also assist in the process of putting on and taking off your boots—a blessing that will be forever imprinted in my mind. Convenience is a seamless thread that unpins the hospitality ethos at Le Coucou, from the ‘Petit VIP Club’ keeping little ones entertained at no extra cost to the locker room pitstop station, stocked with pocket ski essentials, bite-sized croissants and hot chocolate to warm your cockles post skiing.
Nesting into the evening unfolds in various ways at Le Coucou. While some choose to settle into the sunken alcove of the bar sipping on a ‘Cou Cou Mule’, others will retreat to the spa, housing an indoor and outdoor heated pool, hammam, sauna and hydromassage jacuzzi with an outlook of snowy peaks in the distance. A cluster of six snug treatment rooms, one of which is a twin, facilitates massages, body treatment and facials in tandem with the wellness-acclaimed brand Tata Harper. The massage treatments are an antidote to balm achy limbs so you’re fresh to hit the slopes the following day. Holistically curated to instil tranquillity, the options of body treatments and alternative therapies are what set the Tata Harper spa into the top-notch wellness bracket. Our top picks include the lymphatic drainage massage, which calls on thermal gua sha stones to depuff and sculpt, ‘The Alpine’, promising to reoxygenate the tissues to accelerate muscular recovery and ‘The Honey Cocoon’, a renewing experience incorporating a full body scrub followed by a body wrap.
Boasting enthralling views into the valley, the fitness suite is functionally equipped with various cardio machines, a punch bag, a rower and a sleek cable machine that doesn’t disturb the aesthetic. Of course, most of the exercise during your stay is likely to come in the disciplinary of outdoor activities but should you have a penchant to get a workout in, this compact gym aptly suffices. Purposefully, the studio floor is largely left empty, making space for pre-ski stretching and mobility to limber up ahead of descending the mountains.
Across 10 floors, Le Coucou’s 55 rooms and suites, sumptuously fitted with all the plush amenities, feature tactile furniture and polka-dot carpet with a cocoon-like bed taking centre stage. The marble-decked bathrooms are repleted with Diptuque body and haircare, leaving guests scented with ‘34 Boulevard Saint Germain’. Two exclusive chalets occupy the second floor, both fit with 4 double suites, a living space, dining room, slopeside terrace, pool, hammam and sauna, not to mention the private butler service at your disposal 24 hours a day. Photographs from the Pariente’s ski holidays many moons ago can be spotted along the staircase in the chalets, harking back to the close-knit family that is at the heart of Le Coucou.
Primed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, Meribel has an extensive network of routes that adopt a mindful approach to winter sports if hurling yourself down a mountain isn’t your bag. The hotel can additionally organise exclusive experiences from paragliding or heliskiing for the adrenaline junkies to yoga and meditative guided walks for the serenity seekers.
Granted, the French Alps aren’t renowned for healthy cuisine but much like their take on interiors, Le Coucou has put a modernised spin on the gastronomy across their three restaurants. Revealing panoramic views of the picture-postcard scenery, when the sun is basking down on Beefbar, the terrace restaurant, there’s nowhere more picturesque for long woozy lunches. The clues in the name; Beefbar has a meatcentric menu and if there’s ever been a time up your iron intake, it’s here. Besides meat-feasting, they do a marvellous seabass topped with spiralized vegetables and a superfood salad as well as other options to keep everyone fulfilled. Biancaneve favours a French ‘bistronomic’ concept, with a mix of sharing dishes that galvanize local produce. Flaunting showstopping seafood spreads, seasonal veg appetisers and impeccably grilled meat and fish, eloquent dinners are soundtracked by live music, playing soulful covers of coveted hits. Fondue and raclette are the epitome of alpine indulgence, accompanied by hunks of bread, cornichons, salad and slices of cured meat. A trip to the French Alps isn’t complete without an evening spent dunking into the melding pot of dreamy cheese. Le Fumoir’s intimate dining experience takes place in a cosy nook on the top floor, with a fire crackling away to add to the ambience. The perfect palette cleanser to a rich meal, an assortment of refreshing sorbets are scattered around the table to complete this family-style meal.
Making tracks for the mountains this season? You’ll be blissfully spoilt at Le Cou Cou. Nesting in the Alps has never been so chic, from the food to the faultless service and the picture postcard vistas that grace every outlook. Once you’ve entered this realm of skiing, nothing will compare.
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