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What makes a good hotel?

Everyone has their own requirements and I have stayed in many as I criss-cross the Alps during the summer and winter. So, what do I prefer?

Now I stay away from home often. Probably too much.

5* star hotels occasionally, plenty of ones on press trips and when I have to put my own hand in my pocket then they tend to be more basic ones.

 I have done mountains huts, slept under canvas in proper camp sites or simply put up my tent in alpine pastures. I have caught a few zzzz's  on many a mate's sofa/floor and even spent a night in Voiture Grand Scenic (the car) with my wife and children in the Jura Mountains on the way to Verbier as we (me) got the timings a bit wrong.

I have done youth hostels, UCPA and when I was last in Canada I had a week in a suite in the Chateau Whistler before moving into a friend's garage for a few days. That really was from one extreme to the other.

I am though writing this from the balcony of a hotel I have never stayed in before as the sun sets behind Mont Blanc in the Chamonix valley. In my opinion it is rather good.

It is not in the centre of town and you have to make a bit of an effort to find it so it has therefore ticked my first box. It is slightly off the beaten track.

It's run by the people that own it. There are a couple of partners probably but basically it is operated by individuals, so it is not one of hotel chains with sycophantic service and exploited staff with the profits going to please distant shareholders.

The money you part with goes to who you see and what is before your eyes. It is someone's dream with personal touches everywhere. The staff are a mix of French, British, Australian and Swedish.

It is tastefully decorated, but not overdone. It has style and makes you think you would quite like to have your own home with the same fixtures and fittings. This hotel makes me a bit feel special, not too over the top, but just an individual.

There are a few local eating and drinking options too.

It has a superb and reasonably well-priced restaurant, but sometimes I just want to eat without too much fuss. Well, just a few hundred metres away is an excellent and authetic pizza place, The Cremerier du  Moulin. Accept no substiute.

2 vast home-made pizzas, a salad and a litre of very drinkable house red is just  €13 per head. I defy anyone to find a better value and tasty meal in the Chamonix Valley.

But if you want to eat in then the hotel offers some of the finest cooking in the valley. And yes, I have eaten at the Albert Premier with its MIchellin stars and award winning menus.

In the winter it is just a short walk to the ski lift of Flegere and in summer an even closer walk to the golf course.

I am clearly not alone in my liking this hotel.

This afternoon I walked up to the main entrance hot and rather sweaty after a day out biking.  A mother and her young child were coming out so I grabbed the door to help their exit.

"James, what are you doing here?!" It was a good friend, Erica, that runs a ski school in Zermatt. She was with her husband, Henry, who I have known for years and used to ski with a lot a decade or so ago.

Bumping into old friends is one of the joys of meandering round the mountains as I do. They were on a get away from it all weekend to meet family, relax and re-charged the batteries.

It is one of their favourites.

And its name?

Well. I'm not sure I want to tell you as it doesn't have many rooms and I want a vacancy next time I am passing through.

The name though is very, very apt

.The garden of Eden













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