HOTEL FARINET, VERBIER SWITZERLAND
Despite its exclusive reputation and sky-high prices, Verbier is still one of Switzerland’s most animated resorts. Although it will never be cheap, these days it’s no longer all about paying 200CHF for bottles of vodka in over-rated nightclubs. The main après-ski focus is at Hotel Farinent in a prime location close to the lifts.
The terrace-cum-conservatory bar had a facelift over summer but don’t expect the parties to be any less raucous. Daily live music is the winning formula here and the mostly twenty-something crowed are always mad for it.
THE GARIBALDI LIFT COMPANY, WHISTLER CANADA
In comparison with the Alps, there are relatively few riotous après-ski spots in North America. Whistler comes closer than most to accommodating anyone intent on partying the moment the lifts close, with an array of lively slope-side bars.
Famous among these is the Garibaldi Lift Company, which has won plenty of awards and accolades, including a place in Forbes’ top ten ‘best après-ski bars in the world’. Don’t expect an Austrian-style riot – the Whistler crowd is too cosmopolitan for that – but do expect a vibrant atmosphere, live music, big screens showing all the latest ski movies and great food.
MOOSERWIRT, ST. ANTON, AUSTRIA
The MooserWirt encapsulates everything you’ve heard but dared not believe about how après is done in Austria. Sitting like a honey trap on Europe’s busiest piste, it can lure up to 1,000 people at a time and claims to sell more beer than any other bar in Austria. This is partying on a monstrous scale. It’s split between a dance floor and terrace and overseen by 64-year-old DJ Gerhard who cranks up the Europop for four hours of uninterrupted mayhem. By 8pm, you’ll have made several new friends and know all the words to Austria’s cheesiest pop anthems, leaving you to ski home in the dark.
LA FOLIE DOUCE, VAL D’ISERE, FRANCE
Val d’Isere may be teeming with Brits but its most famous après-ski venue is entirely French run. Originally (and still) a mountain restaurant, La Folie Douce transforms itself every afternoon into ‘Europe’s highest club’. It starts innocently enough with a little house music over lunch. Then the terraces are cleared, the DJ cranks up the tunes and out struts Kely StarLight, lead vocalist, for 90 minutes of uber-camp cabaret that is quite unlike anything in the Alps. A rooftop band plays as the raucous crowd are sprayed with champagne.
TROFANA ALM, ISDCHGL AUSTRIA
St Anton is vibrant enough for most but if there’s one resort capable of pushing you that little bit further, it’s Ischgl. Experience the place at full throttle and it’s difficult not to conclude this is the liveliest resort in the Alps. The vibe is very different in Ischgl though. Ischgl is the playground for many well-heeled, middle-aged Germans hellbent on having a good time.
By mid-afternoon, Ischgl is absolutely rocking, nowhere more so than in the Trofana Alm, just off the main drag. By 6pm, you can barely get through the door, let alone to the bar but stand tight and the drinks come to you – with alarming frequency. Schnapps is downed like it’s going out of fashion; sweat pours off the walls and the DJs send the crowed into an après frenzy that has to be seen to be believed.