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From Italy to Oxfordshire: magical winter escapes you'll want to explore

Harriet Charnock-Bates
Harriet Charnock-BatesContributing Travel Editor
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There's nothing like a winter getaway to rejuvenate, and stars from Jamie Oliver to Brad Pitt often head to enchanting destinations to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Whether you're looking to hit the slopes in Italy or cosy up by a fireplace in an Oxfordshire manor house, we've discovered the best high-altitude hideaways and quintessentially British boltholes you'll want to escape to this winter…

La Mourra, Val d'Isère, France

ski holiday

In pole position at the foot of the slopes, La Mourra offers itself up as a cosy hamlet in the French Alps, comprising four private chalets and a clutch of well-appointed suites. With exposed beams, artful lighting and plaid sofas swaddled in sheepskins, the interiors are warm and beautiful. Rise early to catch the first lift – after speaking to the affable concierge, who makes hiring equipment a breeze – and take advantage of L'Espace Killy's exhilarating off-piste runs. For downtime, the Spa My Blend by Clarins is a dream – the treatment menu is utterly spoiling (book the rebalancing massage to ease tense muscles) and the sleek pool is a triumph in icy-white marble.

ski holiday france

The stars: Jamie Oliver has been seen carving his way down the mountain in picturesque Val d'Isère.

The details: Rates at La Mourra from €600 (£512) a night for a junior suite based on two sharing. Flights from London to Geneva with EasyJet start from £25.99 one-way; visit

Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire

oxford raymond blanc

Sitting pretty near the Chiltern Hills is Raymond Blanc's honey-hued manor house. A temple to haute cuisine, here you'll find imaginative French fine dining without a hint of ostentation. Even in frosty January the fairytale gardens are worth the trip alone. Wrap up warm and go for a romp around the orchards, or sidestep through the patchwork of herb beds and you might spot foragers picking garnishes for the evening's dinner. The restaurant is simply excellent – we particularly enjoyed the roasted Goosnargh duck with warm blackberries and turnip. It's safe to say that after sampling the seven-course dinner menu, nowhere else will ever come close. When you're suitably stuffed, curl up in the drawing room and enjoy a nightcap over a game or two of Scrabble.

winter staycation

The stars: Super chef Raymond is a celebrity in his own right.

The details: Rates at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons start at £695 per night for a double room based on two people sharing.

Food image by David Griffen.

Adler Mountain Lodge, South Tyrol, Italy

italy ski

Reached by horse-drawn sled, this is a remote hideout like no other. Echoing the design of age-old Tyrolean mountain huts, the lodge and its chalets blend beautifully into the landscape and the bedrooms are a masterclass in Scandi cool. On the sun terrace, a glass of barolo is the perfect finale to a late lunch and you'll struggle to find a better spot to admire the enrosadira (the pinky glow cast across the mountains as daylight fades). How better to shake off the January blues than with a dose of true peace and quiet, ending each day with a starlit dip amid the jagged Dolomite peaks?

celebrity holiday

The stars: The tranquillity and dramatic mountain vistas have lured George Clooney and Sylvester Stallone to the region.

The details: Snow Wise offers seven nights at Adler Mountain Lodge from £1,995 per person based on two sharing on a full-board basis and including flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck with transfers; visit or tel: 020-3397 8450.

Washington School House, Utah, USA

washington ski

A luxurious home from home in twinkly Park City, this former schoolhouse makes for a spectacularly lovely winter escape. The bedrooms boast salvaged oak floors, chandeliers and a smattering of antique furnishings, while hung in the lounge is a huge gilded mirror that was once housed in a French opera house. There are acres of powder-perfect terrain to be explored, whether or not skiing is your thing. Pull on your thermals and set out on a brisk mountain walk or glide through the towering pines on a snowmobile. Just be sure to get back in time for an après-ski feast beside the fire – each afternoon the talented chefs rustle up a delectable spread of hearty mountain fare, best washed down with a mug of hot buttered rum.


The stars: Home to some of America's best slopes and the Sundance Film Festival, Park City has attracted the likes of Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt.

The details: Rates at Washington School House begin at $525 (£426) per night for a double room based on two sharing. Flights from London to Salt Lake City with Virgin Atlantic from £504 return; visit

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