From kicking off the speakeasy scene in Paris, tucking supremely stylish boutique hotels behind old walls and hidden doors, to bringing some Gallic charm to a previously barren stretch of coast in Ibiza with its always-buzzing beach club, Experimental Group’s many properties are a model in rustic revelry. And now, the Parisian company has set its sights on a wintertime playground, shaking up Verbier with the Experimental Chalet.
Located in the center of the glittering Swiss ski resort, the 41-room hotel will debut in December, just in time for the Moncler-clad jet-set to descend on the mountain for high season. But where properties like Virgin Limited Edition’s the Lodge dial up the opulence, Experimental, designed by Fabrizio Casiraghi—also behind the Casio Club in Hong Kong and Ftelia Beach Club in Mykonos—has gone cool. “I wanted to feel the mountain but remain far from the clichés of the mountain,” he says of the aesthetic. “That means no bear rug on the floor, no antlers on the wall. A hotel in the mountains is much more difficult than you think. In the seaside you have a lot of codes, like ceramics and freshness. But in the mountains, it changes lot: It is white outside in winter and then completely different in the summer.”
The resulting space is a blend of pared-down design and turn-of-the-century warmth. The ground floor, which contains a restaurant and bar, welcomes guests in from the icy runs outside with warm tones, mixing green lacquered paneling with brass and marble. Bedrooms are designed with a cleaner palette in mind: White walls are offset by rusty red carpets complete with an Edelweiss design—the same samphire-green panels as downstairs—and plush velvet curtains. The modern palette is accented with pieces from the 1920s and ’30s, such as lamps by Austrian designer Adolf Loos and chairs by German-Austrian designer Thonet, and the search is still on for different paintings of the Alps from the 1960s for each room. “I really hate photos in the room. It looks very . . . big-box. I really like to have something handmade,” Casiraghi explains. Though all of the rooms are an excellent balance of spacious and cozy, we’d suggest checking into one of the two 430-square-foot suites to dial up the luxury factor. Each comes complete with an indoor fireplace and a terrace with a hot tub (perfect for a post-ski soak) boasting 360-degree views of Mont Blanc. There’s also a spa, overseen by Biologique Recherche , that offers muscle-restoring and skin-boosting cryogenics and, next season, a hammam for the ultimate après-ski scrub down.
Between hitting the slopes, guests can fuel up at the property’s restaurant, which is overseen by chef Gregory Marchand of Frenchie (one of the forerunners of the bistronomy movements, with always-packed outposts in Paris and London). The stylish take on mountain fare—think truffle tartiflette—is complimented by daily hot punch, served up as you shake off the snow from your last run. When it comes time to fully turn in for the day, guests can grab cocktails at the second-floor bar, which uses local ingredients and vintage spirits like chartreuse Tarragona. And if they’re not ready to call it quits once the bar’s 1 a.m. curfew rolls around, guests can head over to the famous Farm Club—the onetime haunt of Diana Ross and David Bowie—which the Experimental Group has also acquired.
However, regulars of the see-and-be-seen hot spot need not worry; Experimental won’t be touching Farm Club’s iconic (though perhaps inelegant) vodka-bottle-lined walls. “Technically we are allowed to,” says founder Romée de Goriainoff, “but we are not morally allowed to. People are so attached to it!” Although, you can expect a little less Abba and a little more electro—welcome to the new Verbier.