Perfect snow, hot saunas, twinkling stars and the snuggliest blankets. We pick the most scenic winter hideawaysFir enough … one of the Pravljica cabins at Velika Planina, Slovenia
Velika Planina, Slovenia
With their cone-shaped, wood-tiled roofs that reach almost to the snowy ground of their little fenced gardens, these pretty cabins, scattered across a high plain at Velika Planina, have a cute appearance that belies tough-nut origins. These were the traditional huts of one of Europe’s largest herder settlements, dating back to the 16th century. Still now in summer, cows are brought up to pasture here. Winter guests can explore the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, with their miles of ski tracks, go sledging and ice-skating or ski touring on the Skuta glacier, then relax in the site’s Finnish sauna.
From €100 a night sleeping two, extra adult €30 a night, extra child €5/€20, two-night minimum stay, koca.si
Tirol, Austrian Alps
Icing-sugar-dipped fir trees form a backdrop to Steindl Häusl, a rustic number on the edge of the forest, 1,300 metres above sea level, with views of the Zillertal Alps. It’s among the top finds on Huetten.com, another great resource, alongside Almliesl.com, for authentic Alpine cabins, listing hundreds in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France. Here, there’s sledging and hiking from the door, and skiing 500 metres away on 6km of pistes at the Reitherkogelbahn, or slighter further away at Alpbach, with 46km of runs. Warm up in the wood-panelled living space, with wood burner and traditional stove.
A week’s self-catering for four from €990 sleeping four, huetten.com
La Clusaz, French Alps
Sleeps from 2-4, seven nights’ self-catering from €1,680, hotelchaletcroixfry.com
Near Gstaad, Switzerland
Coffee warmed on the stove, wooden chairs with heart-shaped cut-outs, deep colourful rugs: such details make a stay in Alphütte bei Gstaad cabin a joy. Though in a remote position on a wooded slope in the village of Matten, it’s connected by a ski bus that passes through nearby St Stephan (a larger village with a railway station) to Parwengesattel ski lift, which connects to the huge Gstaad Mountain Rides resort, and glitzy Gstaad, so you get the best of both worlds.
A week’s self-catering for two from €1785, alp.holidaybooking.ch
St Anton, Austrian Alps
Bavarian Forest, Germany
Arnbruck is a tall, beautiful cabin in a valley of the Bavarian Forest nature park, which becomes properly Christmas-cardy when the snows arrive. Gabled ceilings, a glowing stove and a hammock swinging in the pine-clad living area boost the Brothers Grimm vibe. Break the ice for a dip in the small pond if you dare, and head out for wintry walks along the Goldsteig Trail, Germany’s longest hiking path. Arnbruck, the closest town, is home to speciality schnapps stores and a glass-making attraction, with cafes, gardens and shops. The cabin’s owners will collect guests who travel by train (Regen is the nearest railway station).
A week’s self-catering for four in winter from £373, vrbo.com
Lombardy, Italian Alps
Heavy beams, tables and benches honed from slabs of wood, ladders up to a loft and a crackling fire: the Baita Fochin mountain cabin is properly rustico. Suiting a large group, it’s a fun place to hole up in, at 1,580 metres, above Piandelvino in the Valdidentro, four miles from the ski resort of Bormio, and just over a mile from Cima Piazzi-San Colombano’s lifts and village. It’s from there the landlord will whisk you and your luggage to the cabin by snowmobile. Hot water comes from a wood-fired boiler, plus there’s a sauna with plunge pool.
A week’s self-catering for 12 (10 adults, two children) from €927, huetten.com
This 18th-century timber cabin is typical of the Walsers, settlers who moved to the Swiss Alps in waves of migrations from the 10th century, and who have their own culture and dialect. Nüw Hus, built in 1787 in Innercamana, a hamlet high in a remote valley in the Beverin nature park, was abandoned for a century after inhabitants left in 1911, but has since been preserved and turned into a holiday let. The nearest ski resorts are an hour’s drive away (Flims or Lenzerheide) though it’s connected by the PostBus from Versam-Safien station. Interiors are wood, wood and more wood, there’s no wifi or washing machine, but the kitchen is sleek, with a traditional stove. Who needs more?
A week’s self-catering for 10 from €1,325, alp.holidaybooking.ch
Chamonix, French Alps
Centuries ago, Alpine folk stored valuables and crops in little wooden huts called mazots – raised on stilts and separated from homes to keep them safe from pests and fire. Transformed into a hideaway for two is one called Brigitte’s, whose studio room contains a teeny kitchen, double bed and much love poured into the decor. Cosied up with thick woollen curtains and rugs, and L’Occitane toiletries, it is only a 10-minute walk from the bright, boozy lights of Chamonix. Its covered south-facing balcony overlooking the garden is the perfect spot for sipping vin chaud under views of Mont Blanc.
A week’s self-catering for two from €975, collineige.com
Near Stockholm, Sweden
You don’t have to go all the way up to the Arctic Circle to enjoy a classic snowy cabin stay in Sweden. Just 40 minutes from Stockholm (now linked to the UK by sleeper train via Hamburg) is the Tyresta national park (to which there’s a bus) – a mossy, rocky, 5,000-hectare ancient forest. At its gateway is the village of Tyresta, home to a couple of red timber cabins, in the typical Swedish vernacular, available on Airbnb. Lillgården is a more basic offering, with stone stove and wooden cupboards, while Janssongården features stylishly pared-back interiors with cool wallpapers and pale grey panelling.
Self-catering from £95 a night sleeping four at Lillgarden; from £161 a night sleeping eight at Janssongarden, airbnb.co.uk