Val Thorens, is “Anti-Bling Luxury” or so the tourist board says; they have a point. Even though the newest hotel on the block is named after a 105.6 carat diamond, the feeling is still of ‘do what you like, as you like, when you like’. Pretention dissipates and that in itself is a promising start to your stay.
The Koh I Noor in historical terms was once the largest most spectacular diamond in the world. It is currently set in the Queen of England’s crown.
In Persian the name translates into ‘mountain of light’ summing up its architecture perfectly. It majestically stands on the Plein Sud ski slope. Built from wood with swathes of glass facades, its design floods light through every pore, illuminating and glistening every facet just like its namesake.
The entrance is even more impressive. A glass dome is lit up in purple hues by large bauble like chandeliers. Steel handrails wind around the dome leading the the way to the main reception area. A lift is also available for those who find their legs a little shaky after skiing or climbing the hill from the village; so is a minivan – if the walk from the village is too daunting, just call reception.
The reception is two floors from the ground level, there are stunning panoramic views over the village and the mountains. A south facing open air terrace is spectacular for watching the sunsets in the highest hotel in Europe.
Built in wood with unusual stone cladding and rich dark colours flowing throughout, opulence is obvious without losing the comfort and cosiness craved by the skiing fraternity. The diamond logo is imprinted on various surfaces, including your bed, just to remind you, lest you forget, that this is the jewel in the ‘Val Tho’ crown.
The ski room and shop are filled with the latest technologies to make your experience a little easier even if your pocket ends up a little lighter. There are heated boot dryers and secure lockers in the ski room. You can ski straight onto the piste from the hotel; imagine a slip road onto the motorway. Joining the crowd hurtling down hill needs to be timed to perfection. One second either way and you could find yourself at the bottom of the slope quicker than anticipated and in rather a lot of pain.
Each of the 63 rooms has a balcony, ideal for filling the lungs with fresh morning mountain air or star gazing wrapped in a fur lined rug in the evening. The rustic theme runs throughout. Wooden panels frame the bed, minimalist white and steel furniture creates a modern feel, and your feet sink into the thick carpet pile like marshmallows melting into hot chocolate. Fur throws and cushions adorn the bed; if you feel like relaxing in your room, movies and wifi are available.
Snow gastronomy is the new buzz word and at the Koh I Nor this is offered by Yoann Conte, a two star Michelin chef in his restaurant in Annecy. He has taken over the reins of the hotel restaurant and brasserie. It is never easy to follow in the footsteps of another two star Michelin chef Jean Sulpice; harder still is cooking at altitude, defying the laws of physics. An egg boils at 92 degrees 2,300 metres up taking two minutes longer and breads and cheese dry out three times faster than normal. Even contending with this, he delivers exceptional food in exceptional surroundings, staying true to his aim of showcasing local produce.
Cosy fireplaces and sumptuous large chaise longs and armchairs feature in the bar area, perfect for that digestif hot toddy after dinner.
The Prestige Spa offers Valmont treatments and there are two swimming pools, a hammam, a sauna and a solarium just in case the hotel doesn’t offer enough luxury.
Speaking of luxury, champagne bubbles are smaller due to the lower atmospheric pressure up here, why not come toast what is arguably one of Europe’s most beautiful sunsets in one of Europe’s most beautiful hotels. To quote the overtly bling, Rhianna “…it shines bright like a diamond”.