I’m not normally a fan of the snow, especially when it snows in London everything comes to a halt. Cars are unable to drive down the road, shops and schools are closed and there is a high chance of a clumsy person like myself falling over many, many times. However, I had my eye on Cristallo a hotel part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection group for the longest time. The idea of apes-ski vibes, breakfasts with a mountain views and chic winter wear and relaxing spa moments was something that appealed to me a lot.
When the opportunity arose to visit Cristallo, I just couldn’t say no. After my almost 4 week trip around India and the Middle East in the basking 30 degree heat, I needed to get away again to take the most incredible family trip off my mind and beat the wanderlust. We hopped on a plane from rather cold, dreary London weather to the even colder weather. Except, the snow capped mountains, immaculate chalky snow white roads and rooftops just made everything look so elegant. I was literally in the middle of Winter Wonderland, slowly warming up to the idea of snow through its elegance.
From the minute we stepped off the plane at Marco Pollo airport, we were waited on hand and foot. Entering the terminal, there was two men dressed in suits with a sign with mine and Zoe’s names on. We handed over our suitcases and passports, not having to worry about a thing. We were fast tracked to the front of the passport control queue and our chauffeur presented our passports on our behalf and within seconds we were through and out the other side jumping into our transfer. The journey from Venice’s airport to Cristallo took just over an hour and a half, but it felt like a breeze as the glossy white mountain views were a perfect distraction.
As we pulled up to Cristallo, the exterior reminded me of a real life doll’s house. The building itself was a cream colour, complete with pastel coloured shutters on the windows. It was like we were in a living fairytale, so dreamy. The exterior was still dressed in Christmas decorations and glittering lights, with draped tinsel and baubles over the revolving doors.
The interiors were grand, with high ceilings. Elegant was the first word that came to mind when I was through to the lobby before I was greeted by both the front desk and the Concierge like a much anticipated guest “Welcome Mr. Pathan!”. Our check in was super swift and our room was already ready for us. However, since we hadn’t eaten anything since leaving London, we popped to the gorgeous bar area for a spot of lunch.
Lunch at The Bar
The bar area of Cristallo is utterly gorgeous. Large open pane windows that look out over the Dolomites, which lovely plush seating that makes you feel like you’re at home. The staff were extra hospitable in welcoming us for lunch. Their all day menu was rather extensive but Zoe and I settled on a burger and fries – we didn’t want to get a head start on the pasta quite yet.
The bar staff were happy to make me an off the menu espresso martini which I have to say was the best espresso martini I had ever had. It was just perfect.
We were given a gorgeous junior suite for our stay on the highest floor. As we entered the room, you immediately got a chalet style feel, which felt super authentic. Each floor had their own colour theme, where the walls and ceiling were all hand painted with beautiful flower decorations.
Cristallo had definitely gone the extra mile to add extra touches to their bedrooms with bright coloured sofas, traditional paintwork and the cosiest fur throw that could act a blanket if it got a bit cold at night. However, the rooms are so well heated, you don’t feel the cold until you open the balcony door to stare at the gorgeous views.
Cristallo is situated in the perfect location giving you the most glorious views. It enables the keen skiers to get to the slopes within 10 minutes by car and also provides the most breathtaking views of the Dolomites. I definitely couldn’t tear my eyes away at any one point. I am super jealous that the Cristallo staff members get to see this view every single day, such a treat!
The bathroom was fully equipped with everything you could possibly needed. The amenities weren’t branded, but I was rather impressed with the Swiss brand that definitely kept it on theme as a ski-chatlet theme that ran through the hotel.
Breakfast is really important at Cristallo, especially as the majority of people spend their full days on the slopes. Skiing is actually quite strenuous to the body and takes up a lot of energy, on top of staying warm and having fun. Therefore, Cristallo offer a range of delicious and energy boosting breakfasts. They even have their own health coach on board, who you will find everyday at breakfast making a different fresh juice. You’ll find energy boosting, detox, body hydration and so many more!
My favourite part about breakfast was coming to the gorgeous dining room every morning and just having a leisurely breakfast whilst gazing out at the mountains, it sure is something else.
I was positively in love with the fruit table, it is where you will find me first before I eat anything else. I find starting your day with a healthy helping of fresh fruits is a great way to feel good and energised. Cristallo think the same, offering a daily helping of peaches, pineapple, melon, papaya, strawberries and kiwi fruit.
I did have to remind myself that I may be on a press trip, but it was still a break for me so I was allowed to be a little naughty and get a good helping of sugar to overcome my skiing nerves!
The fantastic concierge team got us ski ready by popping us across to No Service, a local ski rental service. Cristallo have a fantastic driver service that are happy to take you to wherever you need, whether it be into Cortina, to a local restaurant or to the slopes. Our driver popped us down to No Service, where we completely looked after by the team there, completely kitting us out for our first time skiing.
They also have a great relationship with Cristallo, so once you have tried everything and make sure it all fit, they drop it off and pick it up from Cristallo without any issues. I think it’s really important to have such a service and I think having that relationship with No Service is a real credit to Cristallo.
The hotel has a wonderful cabin area just opposite the entrance to the hotel, where you can store your ski’s and get ready for a day of skiing. We came down with all our ski stuff on and popped across into the cabin, got some assistance with our ski boots and grabbed the stuff that No Service had kindly left for us with our names on.
We were ready to go, woooohoo!
The spa is a life saver, especially when doing a new sport for the first time. It sure does make you very sore. The extensive facilities at the spa at Cristallo were amazing. I adored the Roman style pool with the pillars either side, but it also boasted a semi circle jacuzzi at the end overlooking the whole pool area.
The Turkish hammam area was my favourite, the bath absolutely makes you roast in hot, humid and moisture filled air that opens your pores and flushes them out. It is the perfect way to relax and just to refresh your body, ready for a good night’s sleep. Zoe and I visited the hammam baths twice each day, as it almost felt like we were lying on a Mediterranean beach baking under the sun, which was absolutely welcome considering it was minus six degrees outside.
The spa area also has an extensive gym for those that wish to keep up their daily exercise routine or an large range of different spa treatments for those that need the extra relaxation. I had an ayurvedic head massage using the Linea Vata oil that contained Sweet Orange, Canaga, Provence Rose and Sandal Wood. The oil was specifically for those that need feel relaxed both mentally and physically.
The massage was sensational. My therapist worked away at the tight muscles in my neck, through to various different massage techniques on my head to reduce the tension before working on my face, regularly adding more and more hot oil onto my forehead.
Dinner At The Gazebo
For one of the evenings at Cristallo, we dine at the hotel restaurant ‘The Gazebo’. The restaurant is exactly what the name suggests, a small intimate restaurant in a modern, airy, gazebo style room. The glass structure around the room allows you to see the outside area which over looks Ampezzo hollow. The restaurant itself using traditional Italian flavours and locally sourced ingredients.
We started our meal with an extensive bread basket featuring an array of breads, including cheese sticks, salted croissants and cumin flatbread and a cold, crisp flute of champagne.
For our amuse bouche, we were served a bite size version of a beef tartare. It was well flavoured and delicious. I’m definitely a fan of beef tartare in small portions, so it was the perfect amount for me.
Our waiter had suggested we have a wine pairing with our meal to bring out all the flavours in our dishes, plus it would be nice to try some of the local wines of Italy.
The first wine that was chosen for by their sommelier was a red wine, Veneto Valpolicella Classico – Rubinelli Vajol. The wine is supposed to compliment the cheese that was in our starter and the sauce which contained the Valpolicella wine too. The wine had quite deep, juicy notes with an aroma of red fruits that gave it a slight tang.
For our starter, we all ordered the ravioli stuffed with local soft cheese & late radicchio Treviso and glazed in Valpolicella red wine. It was an absolutely divine starter. The ravioli isn’t like the kind you find in British supermarkets, but was essentially larger, smoother and denser. It was cooked al dente and the warm gooey cheese that oozed out the middle was just heavenly! This dish is every cheese and pasta lovers dream…
Served with our meaty main course, we were served a glass of Toscana Chianti Classico Peppoli ’15 – Marchese Antinori. A perfect red wine with sour cherry tasting notes.
For our mains, we all ordered the seared beef fillet served with spinach in butter, mashed potatoes and truffle jus which is known to be a real classic dish in Cortina. We couldn’t leave without giving it a try. The meat was succulent and juicy, even though I had mine well done. The buttered spinach and mash potato complemented it with a heavenly fragrance and taste of truffle from the jus.
For dessert, our wine pairing was a delicious sweet dessert wine, Albana di Romagna 08′- Colle del Re “Umberto Cesari” which had gorgeous caramel notes. I could have sipped on it all night…
For dessert all three of us had (we’re getting pretty predictable now…) millefeuille with cream and chocolate drops, garnished with a few seasonal berries. A perfect sweet way to end the evening at Cristallo.
If The Gazebo staff hadn’t fed us enough that evening, they left us a box of delectable truffles for us to enjoy. I was only able to eat just one but they all looked so good.
Lunch at The Veranda
Our final moments at Cristallo were finished up with a scenic view of lunch at the Veranda. How could I possibly leave this gorgeous view and hotel?!
For our starters, all ordered the eggplant Parmigiana style on tomato and basil coulis. I’ve never had anything like it before but it was absolutely mind blowing. I think eggplant is definitely one of those vegetables that can be liked/disliked depending on the way it is cooked but there was nobody would leave the Veranda not loving this dish. Absolutely delectable!
For our mains, Zoe and I ordered the risotto with salt cod, black olive powder and capers. The dish itself was warming and hearty, perfect for when it’s cold outside – or in our case to set us up for our journey home.
Gianluca, our lovely host ordered the strudel of red chicory from Treviso with taleggio cheese and its fondue. I was a little bit envious, especially as it was filled with the delicious taleggio cheese from the night before and drizzled in a melted version. Mmmm!
We wrapped up lunch with a classic Italian coffee and a few more truffles before heading to Marco Polo Airport.
Overall Experience at Cristallo
I honestly don’t think I could put into words how amazing my time at Cristallo was. I have already got plans to go back and progress my skiing skills next year. It truly is the most luxurious escape to the Italian Dolomites with it being the perfect location for all avid skiers. From the generosity and fantastic service from all the staff members to the little details and touches across the hotel, Cristallo is the perfect home away from home. If you want a memorable stay in a truly fantastic part of Italy, I would recommend Cristallo time and time again.
Until next time…