There are many elements of a hotel that make it a good one, and there are certainly plenty of good ones to be found in the Alps. It might be the gourmet restaurant, the superb wine selection, the panoramic view, etc… Whatever it is, combine a few of these elements in the same place and you’ve likely got yourself a great place to stay. Every so often in our travels we find a hotel that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. It has all the features to be expected, plus an extra something that makes it stand out as truly exceptional. This series is about highlighting those places.
Courmayeur is one of our favorite stops on the Tour du Mont Blanc – classy and rich with atmosphere. A pedestrian-only main road and attractive wood and stone architecture make the town feel almost medieval. Most of our itineraries include two nights in Courmayeur so you can slow down and appreciate the pace of this beautiful mountain town. But you could easily spend many days here hiking the trails, visiting the spa, or just relaxing at a cafe or restaurant terrace in town. The small mountain village is also home to one of our favorite family-run hotels. The 3-star Hotel Bouton d’Or is a gem of a stop with some of the friendliest hosts you’re likely to meet in the Alps.
For Patrizia and Andrea Casale Brunet, family is everything. The couple are the owners of this cozy inn nestled in Italy’s Aosta Valley. Andrea’s family built the hotel in 1972 and since then, the hotel’s foremost priority has been to make guests feel right at home.
Patrizia: It’s all about family. Andrea’s family built the hotel in 1972 and since then, we have enjoyed being here and making our guests feel at home. When we’re not at the hotel, we love to go walking. There are so many beautiful trails from town. It can be a hard steep hike up but the views of Mont Blanc from the top are wonderful! Of course, many of the sections of the Tour du Mont Blanc are very popular with guests because they are so beautiful.
We like to walk up to Rifugio Maison Vielle or Rifugio Bonatti, which are both on the TMB route. There, you can sit and relax with a cappuccino or a piece of tart with the beautiful views. There are so many restaurants here; they are really all good because they all serve real Italian food! They use many ingredients that are local here to the valley. There’s Chalet Proment, La Terraza, Al Camin, Cadran Solaire…. There are so many that it’s hard to choose!
Andrea: Yes, it’s all about family. The hotel is our home too. Besides the years spent in college, we’ve lived our whole lives here in Courmayeur. People love to go skiing here, but my favorite time in Courmayeur is in the summer months. There is so much to do: you can walk and climb so many places and the village is beautiful and warm. You can sit and have a gelato in the square and relax. Many of our guests come here to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc trail. We want to help them choose the best routes and prepare them for what to expect. There are many hills!
All the restaurants in town are very nearby. All are only a few minutes walk from the hotel. This makes it easy for our guests, who are tired from hiking, and don’t want to go such a long way for a nice meal. Most of our guests don’t have a car, but in Courmayeur everything is so close that you don’t need one at all. All the shops, restaurants, and bars are only a few minutes of walking away!
You will feel their warm welcome as soon as you step in the door. The reception area and lounge have a wood paneled interior. Large windows and plush sofas create an inviting space for guests to relax and enjoy the view of Mont Blanc after a day out on the trails. The rooms are charming, adorned with furniture crafted by local artisans and carpets, prints, and pictures that reflect the history of the Aosta Valley. Each room also includes a private bathroom and a balcony or garden that is blooming with summer flowers.
A stay at the hotel includes an unforgettable buffet breakfast, which offers an abundance of treats: homemade cakes, strudel, biscuits, and croissants as well as omelets, quiche and locally-produced yogurts, cheeses, and meats. Many of the fruits and vegetables were grown just steps away in the hotel’s own garden. Just next to the garden is a terrace with lounge chairs and bright umbrellas. One more comfortable space for guests to relax and enjoy the warm summer sun.