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What's the difference between a ski chalet and a chalet hotel?

You may be researching your next winter holiday and have come across these different options and are left wondering, well, what's the difference?

Here we clear this up and give you some insight to understand what's the best option for your next ski holiday.

Chalet Hotel

  • Chalet Hotels are sold room-by-room all season, a chalet hotel is a hotel by any other name hosting from 25 people up to 130+.

  • Although some do have a less formal atmosphere than the average hotel, the service is less personal than a chalet.

  • Common areas less intimate and convivial as the line with the public access can be blurred.

  • Some, if not all, have more formal bar and dining areas where parties eat separately, with half board the most popular option.

Ski Chalets

  • Stand-alone properties or apartments.

  • Most commonly booked as a whole - Shared is possible

  • Spectrum of services available from self-catered and hands off to fully catered including drinks (with one day off for staff).

  • Sizes range from 6-8 people at their smallest to 20 at their biggest, which is often where the line blurs with Chalet hotels.

  • House-like layout with big open plan living and dining areas.

  • Many have premium features to help you relax such as games rooms, cinema rooms, hot hubs, saunas and even private swimming pools when you get seriously high end.

  • Small staff dedicated to the running of the chalet from morning to night.

If you don’t have enough people in your party to fill a chalet, you might think a Chalet hotel is your next best option, but it’s not! Shared chalets allow you all the home away from home luxury and attentive service, as well as a ready made social atmosphere.

Ski chalet in les arc 1600
Charming converted ‘chalet d’alpage’ in Arc 1600

What’s the difference between a Chalet hotel and a shared ski chalet?

A lot!


As we said before, ski chalets are often smaller, so there’s a maximum of 20 people in one property and on average it's more like 12-14.

These are sold by the room or, more rarely, by the bed. Some chalets operate on a hybrid model, where some weeks are by the room and some sold sole occupancy.

Here at Snowclans we have a mixture of seasonal shared chalets and exclusive shared weeks, but all are sold room by room and display clear per person or per room pricing.

Food & Drink

99% of shared chalets are fully catered, this means all your food and drink is covered for the week in the price, bar lunches and one evening out, which really takes the guesswork out of budgeting. Chalet hotels can offer half board but this rarely includes drinks or the amount of courses and extras you get in a catered chalet.

Dining in shared chalets is done all together on one or two large tables, combining groups.

Catered options go above and beyond many hotels as standard; Daily changing 3+ course set menus, afternoon tea set up for when you get back home and often help-yourself soft drink options all day. Most chalets at the very least have alcohol included with meals, and some extend to having honesty bars or being completely all inclusive.


Catered Chalets invite a communal and social atmosphere, they are set up to be shared due to their smaller size and more “homely” layout.

Relaxing in the evening or during the day is much more comfortable, with small numbers of people sharing common areas it’s a lot easier to feel at home. Your room is also a lot quicker to access if you want anything, and to move between the two feels less distinct.

This is especially amazing for non-skiers or those who prefer less time on the hill, they get the chalet to themselves for the majority of the day! You wont get that comfort without forking out for a suite or a nice apartment.


Premium hotel facilities shared with less people? Yes please.

It's common place for shared ski chalets to have hot tubs and saunas to rest tired muscles. Games consoles, board games, football tables are all common place too, giving you a chance to mingle and relax. If you're really lucky there's cinema rooms and in-house bookable spa treatments.


For those who worry about mixing with children, there’s a very easy way to avoid them - don’t go during school holidays (and save yourself a lot of money). In addition to that, a lot of chalets clearly state whether children/babies are welcome in mid-low season and will let you know who the sharing parties are.

Chalets open to children regularly have a separate children's meal time so parents can enjoy theirs in relative peace. It’s free entertainment for kids to mix with other families, which makes your evening a lot less hands on. Parents also have less to worry about in terms of security and can let them roam the Chalet, which often has 2 living areas, one of which ends up being overtaken by children.

Don’t forget that Nanny services can be hired in-chalet.

Like the sound of this? Seen a picture you like? Check out our range of shared chalets

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