8 winter holiday homes with the wow factor

Experience all the wonder and elemental beauty of winter in one of these delightful snowy retreats. Offering cosy interiors along with creature comforts such as private saunas and roaring log fires or wood-burning stoves, they’re perfect for a Christmas or seasonal getaway with family or friends, whether you plan to hit the ski slopes or love to simply immerse yourselves in amazing nature.

  1. Taking time out in the Austrian Tirol

    Oozing rustic chic, this 10-bedroom catered chalet surrounded by meadows on the sunny side of the Alpbach Valley has heart-racing views over the gorgeous village of Alpbach. Think hand-carved wooden furnishings and cosy sheepskin throws combined with contemporary details, including a freestanding eggshell bathtub by the fireside in one bedroom. Another room is delightfully scented by a bed of pine and hay. When you’re not enjoying the great outdoors (sleds are provided), the chalet has a Finnish sauna, a steam room, a hot tub, and a chill-out room and terrace with mountain views—and massages can be arranged.

  2. Rooms with a view in the Valais, Switzerland

    Ski-in ski-out, this charming three-bedroom wooden chalet right on the Sunnegga piste has views over Zermatt’s rooftops to the mighty Matterhorn. Handcrafted furniture and natural materials combine with luxuries, including a whirlpool bathtub in one bedroom, an open log fire, and a cedar hot tub and firepit in the garden. Those here to hit the pistes will appreciate the ski room with boot drier—and the free luggage transfer in winter. (Zermatt is a car-free resort.) In few places can you combine such a remote feel with easy access to a champagne bar!

  3. A blissful break in Bavaria, Germany

    Though handy for the ski slopes, this super-luxurious five-bedroom chalet in the quaint village of Reit im Winkl near the Austrian border will lure you into staying home. There’s a sauna, a relaxation room, an open fire, underfloor heating, and glorious mountain views, especially from the double-height living room with its panoramic window. Upmarket interiors blend classic Alpine decor with modern elements, including a freestanding illuminated spa tub. Meanwhile, you’ll find the kids squirrelled away in their very own mezzanine area with its four beds, games console, and play corner. There’s also a cosy billiards and reading room.

  4. A forest hideaway in the French Alps

    The wood-fired sauna “pod” with its glass-bubble window framing views of snow-laden fir trees is the star turn at this luxury catered chalet just outside the 18th-century village of Argentière near Chamonix. It’s followed a close second by the outdoor hot tub. But no aspect of this superb four-bedroom property will disappoint, from the home cinema and the open log fireplace to the mountain streams flowing past on each side. There’s ample space for snowman-building and tobogganing right in front of the chalet, and you might even spot chamois deer grazing within arms’ reach.

  5. An escape into nature in Norway

    In a blissfully secluded location just a few metres from around 40 km of groomed ski trails on Havrefjell mountain, and also handy for organised snow-shoe tours, this contemporary chalet sleeping 10 lies in the Telemark region southwest of Oslo. High-spec interiors include oak flooring and stylish Scandi furnishings, and there’s a private three-person sauna, a modern wood-burning stove, and gorgeous views from the vast windows that open onto nature at its unadulterated best. There are also terraces and a fire-pit to gather around.

  6. Simple pleasures in snowy Sweden

    Sleeping four, this classic Swedish red-painted wooden house beside woodland on the outskirts of the small village of Fågelfors halfway between Malmö and Stockholm is the perfect winter hideaway, with an open fireplace and a fully equipped kitchen perfect for cookie-baking. Come for December 13 and you can experience St Lucia's Day with its church concerts and light parades. Or from late November, the house is festively decorated, with Christmas DVDs, books, and CDs at hand. Wintry outings include traditional Christmas markets—the perfect place to try a glass of Glögg after shopping for artisan gifts to take home.

  7. A fairytale cottage in Finland

    This log bungalow in Ylläs in Finnish Lapland offers snug accommodation for up to six, plus a log-burning stove and a private sauna for warming back up after a day on the surrounding cross-country ski tracks (themselves dotted with cosy cafés). Despite easy access to the unsullied nature of this part of the Arctic Circle—where activities include snowmobiling, Husky sleigh-rides, reindeer safaris, and Northern Lights spotting—you’re within walking distance of local amenities, including ski, snowshoe, and sledge hire shops. And with buses running from Kittilä Airport, you don’t even need to hire a car.

  8. An Iceland winter idyll

    With a knockout location overlooking Hvalfjörður fjord (90 km north of Reykjavik) and perfectly positioned for spotting the magical Northern Lights, this homely wooden cottage sleeping six is perfect for a winter escapade far from the crowds. A pure mountain stream crosses the garden, while inside there’s underfloor heating to keep you toasty as you soak in the mountain views, plus plenty of activities to keep all ages amused, including foosball and air hockey tables, board games, and toys for younger children.

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