For some people, apres-ski is all about getting together in one jolly, beery throng – drinking too much and dancing on tables in your ski boots, then stumbling home. While others prefer to find a quieter, more sophisticated bar in which to sip a cocktail or two and nibble aprés-ski snacks in front of an open fire.
There’s no rulebook, but a good idea is to start around 3/4 p.m and be in bed by 10 p.m. so you have at least eight hours to sleep it off. Then in the morning there’s time to refuel with a hangover-cure breakfast before catching the first lift up the mountain.
Here’s our pick of the best aprés-ski resorts in the Alps, divided into party-goers’ bars followed by chilled-out bars.
Best apres-ski resorts for party-goers:
St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria: Mooserwirt and Krazy Kangaruh
The two standout apres-ski bars are located on the slopes of St. Anton and by 4 p.m every afternoon, you can get an idea of how popular they are by the hundreds of pairs of skis poking out of the snow. Regulars are utterly divided over which establishment is superior, but you’re guaranteed to have a blast whichever one you choose.
The Krazy Kangaruh and the Mooserwirt have quite a lot in common – you’ll find dozens of people standing on tables stamping their ski boots to ear-splittingly loud music while swigging the local Fohrenburg beer and having Jägermeister shots poured straight into their mouths by wandering waitresses.
The Mooserwirt is popular for its live music – you can watch the popular German cover bands on the dancefloor from the high wooden balconies. Even though it closes at 8 p.m, the Mooserwirt is said to sell more beer than any other bar in Austria. Remember you still have to ski down the mountain when you leave so take it nice and slow, probably best to stick to a gentle snowplough.
The KK is known as the original home of apres-ski in St. Anton and has been rocking the Arlberg since 1965. The sun terrace has amazing views overlooking St. Anton with sun from dawn till dusk. In-house DJ Party Hard transforms the terrace into a large open-air dance floor with hot tunes from jazz to rock anthems.
Rond Point in Meribel, France
The Rond Point is a popular mountain bar located on the main piste into Meribel. It is also on the bus route, so making your way back to your chalet could not be easier. The Ronnie deserves a mention in our best apres-ski resorts list for its raucous dancing and partying, as well as spectacular views. This sunny terrace bar at 1,600 metres should not be missed. You’ll find live music every afternoon and be sure to try the delicious toffee vodka as well as top-notch snacks. You can ski down from here to the Chaudanne or (if a little too wobbly) take the bus. Try to time your trip to Meribel to coincide with the Little World Festival in March. The five-day music festival features 40 concerts during the week, from large open-air performances on the slopes to small bar gigs.
Hinterhag Alm in Saalbach, Austria
The Hinterhagalm is located directly next to the Kohlmais slope, just a few metres above the Hotel Hinterhag and a couple of minutes’ skiing from Saalbach centre. Carved out of aged wood and set across two floors, the bar attracts skiers for its live music and party atmosphere. From 4 p.m every day, it fills up with enthusiastic Austrians who aren’t afraid to sing and dance in their ski boots. If you’ve had one too many gluwines, thankfully the slopes down are floodlit.
Dick’s Tea Bar in Val d’Isere, France
Dick’s Tea Bar was originally opened in 1979 by Dick Yates Smith and has evolved over the years into one of the biggest bars in the French Alps – it’s actually more of a nightclub. The beer is cheap and there are lots of seating areas. Dick’s is located right next to the Solaise slopes near the centre of town and is open every day from 4:30pm until 5 a.m. The entertainment is staggered: Apres-ski is 4-10 pm with board games, beer pong, milkshakes, mulled wine and hot chocolate; 10 pm-1 am is the After Dinner Club with performers on violin, saxophone, and percussion; and from 1 pm until close Dick’s opens up the nightclub with resident DJ.
Trofana Alm in Ischgl, Austria
The Trofana Alm is a large, old wooden barn located behind the Trofana Royale Hotel on Ischgl’s main street. Here you’ll find the liveliest apres-ski in town with DJs and boisterous parties every day. By 6 p.m, the hut is packed with people, sweat, and schnapps.
CHILLED OUT BARS
Here are three of the best apres-ski resorts for a more chilled out vibe:
Elsie’s is tucked into a tiny, two-story wooden chalet. This apres-ski bar is a favourite with the resort’s more well-to-do clientele, yet not intimidating to ‘unmonied’ folk. Expect to see plenty of women wearing mink coats and clutching champagne flutes with beautifully manicured fingers and nibbling on champagne. Warm up with a whiskey or shuck a dozen oysters with a glass of dry white wine. Elsie’s is open until 2 a.m.
The Chesa Bar is located in the Chesa Grischuna hotel, near the Gotschna slopes. It has been a past favourite with Prince Charles, William and Harry. British skiers tend to gravitate towards the Chesa for the delicious whiskey sours and to listen to the live music from the resident pianist.
White Lounge in Mayrhofen, Austria
While Mayrhofen town has a very lively, if bordering on the boisterous, apres-ski scene, but head up the mountain to 2000m and you’ll find a decidedly different atmosphere atop the Ahorn lift: the White Lounge is a six-metre-high igloo and is the coolest bar in Mayrhofen. It is the perfect place to spend a romantic afternoon or chill out with friends. The Igloo Bar has cosy candlelit lounges as well as deckchairs in the sun from which to enjoy the mountain scenery of the Zillertal and listen to the Wintersun music sessions. If you don’t want your icy experience to end, you can spend the night in an igloo suite.