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The Ultimate Ski Resort Face-Off: St Anton vs Val d’Isere

 
You’d be hard pressed to find a ski resort with a bigger reputation for hard skiing and harder partying than St Anton, but these days Val d’Isere might come close. As France’s hard partying alternative to the famously rowdy Austrian resort, the pretender to the throne is a favourite with Brits and Europeans for its varied terrain, huge ski area, and increasingly famous après ski. 
 
If the reasons for holidaying in Val d’Isere sound familiar, that’s because they’re pretty similar to the reasons for St Anton’s enduring popularity amongst keen skiers and partiers alike. So, in honour of fairness, we’ve decided to put these two resorts to the ultimate test; Arlberg vs Espace Killy, le Blizzard vs das Mooser, the Mooserwirt vs the Folie Douce 
 
 
Val d'Isere slopes photo credit Loic Brohard
Val d'Isere slopes photo credit Loic Brohard

The Skiing

The Arlberg ski region is well known as one of the most extensive and most challenging ski areas in the world, and with skiers able to access the whole Arlberg region with their ski passes, there’s no chance of getting bored before your holiday is over. The resort is renowned for its generally challenging slopes, and has a cult status among snow sports enthusiasts as one of the world’s best ski areas, with hundreds of kilometres of piste, and almost as much in off piste itineraries. 
 
Val d’Isere, as part of the French monster Espace Killy ski area, is another famously difficult place to ski, with unusually steep blue runs, and some of the hardest green runs you will find. The two ski areas are noticeably similar in the difficult of the slopes, with Val benefitting from a huge number of mountain access points, meaning guests have very little queuing to do while they’re enjoying the skiing in Val d’Isere. 
 
Let’s face it, they’re both pretty great for skiing, and they’re both tricky to get to from an airport, so when it comes to the slopes, we’ll just have to call it a draw.
 
Mooser hotel photo credit das Mooser hotel
Mooser hotel photo credit das Mooser hotel
 

The Accommodation

 
Both of the resorts have a whole bevy of five star hotels and high end chalets on offer. In St Anton’s case, the best known is das Mooser hotel, where guests can enjoy absolute comfort within easy reach of St Anton’s most famous après spots. As an added benefit, the hotel has excellent sound proofing, so if you don’t fancy grabbing a jager after a day on the slopes you can relax in the hotel spa. If you don’t fancy that, there are a number of stunning hotels in the resort. For a little more privacy, St Anton, unlike the rest of Austria, is littered with luxury chalets, too. 
 
Similarly, Val d’Isere has more top end chalets than you can shake a stick at, and a number of very chic hotels, from the stylish Val stalwart le Blizzard to the recently refurbished and extremely fashionable le Savoie, hotels in Val d’Isere offer absolute comfort with a heavy dose of contemporary elegance. With hotels and chalets littered around the resort, guests can choose whether to stay right in the centre of the resort, or head for the quiet outskirts.
 
St Anton is gloriously glamorous, but it can’t quite reach Val d’Isere’s sheer level of luxury. 
 
Folie Douce photo credit Jerome Bon
Folie Douce photo credit Jerome Bon
 

The Nightlife

 
So finally we arrive at the famous Alpine nightlife these two resorts have become synonymous with over the last twenty years; St Anton the old hand, and Val d’Isere the new challenger. In St Anton, the night starts with afternoon drinks and dancing at the bars that made St Anton famous in the 60s, and kept it the party capital of the Alps since then; the Mooserwirt or the Krazy Kangaruh. Then, skiers will wobble their way down the slopes for dinner, before heading to Underground on the Piste, Anton Cafe, or Basecamp and then over to Piccadilly or Kandahar to enjoy the rest of your evening. 
 
Val d’Isere, blending class and vulgarity in a way that only Val can, starts the partying at lunchtime in the Folie Douce. With a number of après bars now open across the French Alps, it’s pretty well documented what après ski at the Folie involves; DJs, liberal sprinkling of alcohol (usually literally), and closing time at 5pm when the patrons will slide on down to Bananas to continue their fun. The night in Val d’Isere ends in the resort’s legendary nightclub, Dicks Tea Bar. If you’re after some live music, head for the Moris Pub after supper, where there is always a lively crowd.  
 
As much as I personally adore Val’s après ski scene, St Anton is still the reigning king of the piste side party.