Picture a winter ski trip in the Swiss Alps.
The white snow glistening under the blinding winter sunshine; the apres-ski sessions spent sipping Veuve on a terrace overlooking the tall white peaks and sweeping valleys; the Moncler-clad crowd hunkering down at day’s end in log chalets filled with roaring fireplaces, bear rugs, plaid blankets, and antlers on plaques lining the walls.
Experimental Chalet is none of that—well, save for the sweeping vistas, crisp white powder, and glistening sunshine. We also can’t guarantee you won’t spot a Moncler jacket here or a flute of Veuve there—despite the attainable price tag hovering around $250 a night. In all other respects, Experimental Group—the hospitality team behind Paris’ Balagan, London’s Henrietta Hotel, and Ibiza’s Experimental Beach Club, among many others—has reinvented the ski lodge.
Designed by Fabrizio Casiraghi, Experimental Chalet, opened late last year in Verbier—just in time for ski season—is a far cry from traditional Switzerland ski stations. In lieu of bear rugs, there are dusty pink velvet curtains. Instead of antlers, fringed boucle club chairs grace the guest rooms. “He aimed for something new without being minimalistic or obvious,” says an Experimental Group spokesperson of Casiraghi’s design, which he describes as a cross between The Grand Budapest Hotel and the classic Swiss cottage.
Still, the designer kept the hotel’s roots firmly planted in the famous locale’s history: “The use of the red shutters, which are traditional of Switzerland, are used as vintage decor without looking dated,” he adds. “A classic look of the 1940s was to match steel with concrete, which can be found in certain locations throughout the hotel. Back then, Bauhaus and Art Deco reigned in Switzerland, and Fabrizio reflects this in his design, for instance, with Hoffman chairs in the restaurant.”
In classic Experimental style, the restaurant, helmed by Gregory Marchand of Paris’s Frenchie fame, is a destination in and of itself, serving a contemporary interpretation of traditional Alpine food: classics like rosti, spaetzle, aligot, and tartiflette meet line-caught fish and crisp fresh salads. The fabled basement nightclub—which has hosted the likes of David Bowie and Diana Ross over the years—remains intact. “[We] decided to keep Farm Club to its former glory by preserving it as it is,” says the spokesperson, restoring only the carpet and nothing else.
Every detail on the 41-room property is intended to attract the fulcrum of young discerning travelers: The velvet-wrapped color palette of pistachio, peach, and firetruck red; the decadent baked Vacherin and saucisson brioché—perfectly paired with Experimental’s signature cocktails; the Biologique Recherche–led spa and hammam; and the apres-ski which, as it happens in the Alps, lasts until the wee morning hours.
If visiting Verbier is not in the cards this winter, don’t despair, as Experimental Group also promises two summer openings in Minorca and Venice. It’s almost March, after all. Before you know it, you’ll be shedding your Moncler jackets in favor of your Eres swimsuit.
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