If you are looking for luxury, privacy and the ultimate in views, look no further than Chalet Couttet. Located in Les Pèlerins, you are within walking distance to the heart of Chamonix but it almost seems rude to turn down such a dedicated chauffeur service. Whether that be mid summer when it is 30oC outside or mid winter when that trek in deep snow and ski boots just does not sound appealing.
Chalet Couttet not only has winter but also summer luxury written all over it. With the bi-fold doors spanning the dinning and sitting room flung open and leading you onto the south facing grounds, that 12m heated swimming pool is calling. It would seem a little indulgent heading straight for the gigantic hammocks, so how about a game of boules on the lawn first? If that all sounds a little too strenuous I highly recommend sinking into one of the finest hot tubs I have ever had the privilege of testing out. Even if your back is turned to that view of Mont Blanc, you are spoilt as the gleaming glass balconies are the perfect mirror for reflecting the afternoon sun over the glacier behind.
More than comfortably sleeping ten guests in five lavishly appointment bedrooms, I am pleased to tell you that luxury continues by way of choice. With two master suites to pick between, I promise there will be no polite disappointment when you have to hand that indulgent cloud of a bed and freestanding bath over to your friend. Although, one word of advice from your friend in high places. By picking the upstairs master suite, there is the inherent risk of becoming permanently propped up against that sumptuous velvet headboard, as you remain mesmerized by the glacier looming above you and that uninterrupted view of Mont Blanc. You may require that wake up call after all.
The spacious layout of Chalet Couttet ensures that whichever chair you have sunken into, whichever terrace you are sunbathing by or whichever sun lounger has your name on it, afternoon tea will come to you. And what an afternoon tea you have to look forward to. Our culinary journey began with an Alice in Wonderland themed three-tiered feast. It was hard to know where to begin but savoury comes first and that meant goats cheese and red onion marmalade scones and smoked trout and cream cheese brioche with a sliver of quail’s egg balanced on top. Moving up to the top tier, were chocolate teacups hiding a meringue marvel, strawberry éclairs just asking to be eaten, magical clock faced shortbreads and chocolate truffle bon bons. Maybe I should have slightly exaggerated when asked my weight for the following day’s activity.
Chalet Couttet’s passion for exquisite dining continued with vigour later that evening with the arrival of some of the most moreish canapés I have eaten in a long time. Poached quail’s eggs bathed in soy sauce and rolled in toasted sesame seeds, Japanese soup spoons laden with a sweetcorn, mango and avocado salsa and Japanese crackers playing host to caramelized pork. As one of my culinary highlights of any luxury chalet stay, I am pleased to say that you need never fear of Chalet Couttet being shy on canapés. However, with my appetite up and transported to the Far East it was time to embark on the chalet’s highly regarded six course Kaiseki fine dining experience. With such gourmet treats as scallop sashimi, yuzu aioli, miso-marinated cod, yaki onigiri, duck jibu-ni and green tea doughnuts with lychee jelly, all I can say is when can I welcome you to the Alps to experience such indulgence? In case you need any further persuasion, each dish is complimented by a carefully handpicked wine, ensuring your truly unique dining experience is created.
From a late evening of feasting to an early start of ferratas. Having embarked on the Mer de Glace rack and pinion train from Chamonix to Montenvers’ train station, a short descent will have you stopped in your tracks. Greeted by one of the most spectacular Alpine vistas, you temporarily forget you are about to embark on the thrill of a Via Ferrata and trip of a lifetime across the glacier.
Climbing harness, helmet, boots, gloves, crampons, carabiners, ice axe, climbing rope. Check, check, check and checked again. Normally the idea of descending thirty iron ladders, complete with limbering up between cables built into the cliff face would strike fear. However, with a competent guide who from calculations has been doing this route for half a century, you know you are in the safest of hands, with every snow and glacial crevasse condition checked before further descent. Via Ferrata, translated from Iron Roads in Italian, is an adrenalin inducing, breathtaking cross between hiking and climbing. As a geographer at heart, I don’t think there could have been a more thrilling way to experience the imposing panorama of the Mer de Glace, the Drus and the Grands Jorasses.
With feet firmly back on solid, horizontal ground, a yoga class in Chalet Couttet’s wellness suite was the perfect antidote for intrepid legs. I will admit that we weren’t the nimblest of yogis but with ample space to topple over, along with a treatment area, sauna and hammam, tranquility soon resumed. For those still with energy to burn, Chalet Couttet is also home to a well-equipped gym.
Alternatively if that word sends shivers down your hiking boots, on the same lower level you can find an indulgent cinema room. In the hazy heat of a July afternoon, it would have been criminal to spend the afternoon indoors. However, in the name of ensuring you know just what you can begin to look forward to, I can promise there would be nowhere better to hunker down in the infinite mound of cushions, with a faux fur throw and a big bowl of popcorn if the weather closed in. Likewise for those in your party with a competitive streak, take on a game of pool in the downstairs bar. The perfect space for night owls.
Whether a night owl or morning lark, waking up in Chalet Couttet means looking forward to the Breakfast Club. With the breakfast menu offering a mouthwatering daily special along with such delights as avocado, sweetcorn fritters, poached eggs and a caramlised onion chutney or creamy porridge with honeycomb shards and stewed rhubarb compote, I think I could use the excuse of needing to sample everything to enable me to stay a few days more.
With soaring vistas atop the peak of the Aiguille du Midi, lazy days of exceptional BBQs interspersed with Chalet Couttet’s pool and a good book, being a tourist in the heart of Chamonix and more hiking opportunities than you can shake your walking pole at, these surely have to be the ultimate in luxurious summer days. With such a spacious chalet and sweeping grounds, surely next week’s guests wouldn’t notice just one more around the table at Breakfast Club?