First impressions of the Grand Hotel Billia
The Grand Hotel Billia is nestled in the foothills of the Italian alps, on the outskirts of the small village of St Vincent. It’s grand Venetian lemon exterior can be seen perched on a hillside above the valley as you approach from Turin or Milan. It resembles a grand, renaissance chateaux, stolen from a Marie Antoinette movie set, but would be equally at home in Monaco or Cannes.
This is a hotel that dresses to impress. It seamlessly combines antique pieces and décor with sumptuous modernity. Sleek, glass walls provide panoramic views over the valley, whilst sunlight creates glittering patterns in the elegant dining rooms. Whoever did the interior design on this hotel deserves an award. It is no accident that this is one of the Leading Hotels of the World.
A living museum
The hotel is a combination of the weird and the wonderful. Display cases house an eclectic collection of items, from clogs to deer. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if a mad professor appeared at any moment. These oddities somehow add to the hotel’s charm – you may love it more for its eccentricities.
Our entrance ★★★★★
As we drive up the winding drive to the car park, the colourful façade beams down on us, the sunny lemon décor a stark contrast to the frigid, winter air. We rush into the greenhouse of a reception to a warm welcome. Our receptionist even personally guides us to the lifts for our room.
Our room ★★★★★
The Grand Hotel Billia actually comprises two hotels within one, although you will be hard pressed to tell where one begins and the other ends. The five-star Grand Hotel is housed in the chateau at the front of the building, whilst the Park Hotel Billia is located in a modern annex to the rear. The latter is a mere four stars but guests benefit from all the same facilities.
Our room does not disappoint in any case. At less than half the cost of the rooms in the Grand Hotel, it is spacious with a huge king size bed and comfortable furnishings. Everything is sleek and modern and the lighting is a gadget lover’s dream. A little box allows you to fiddle with the various settings until the lighting is to your taste.
The bathroom is all brooding, dark tiles with an oversized sink and plenty of storage space. A further electronic panel controls the lighting in the bathroom.
A heavy glass door panel in the bedroom can be manoeuvred to allow access to a small ledge where you can enjoy views of the valley. It is not quite a balcony but achieves the same affect.
Bars and restaurants ★★★★★
There are two bars in the main hotel. The Vinotheque is a more casual bar area whilst the main bar is very grand with huge ceilings and large leather sofas. Drinks are served with generous rounds of crisps and canapes (please note there is an extra charge of €3 per person for these which we only discovered on check out).
The main dining room offers both a set menu and a la carte options. We opted for the set menu on Jason’s birthday. The price of €45 per head included a bottle of wine and four courses. Our starter was spectacular but we were a little underwhelmed by the other courses. We joked that our main of cod resembled a boil in the bag fish! Obviously not a compliment so unless you really enjoy haute cuisine food, you may wish to walk into the village and dine in one of the local restaurants.
St Vincent Casino ★★★★★
The casino St Vincent is attached to the main hotel via an underground corridor. It has an impressive entrance with a €170,000 Mercedes gracing the concourse. You will need ID to enter, and first time visitors to the hotel receive €20 in credit for the casino. Jason put this to good use winning €170. Yay, that paid for the ski hire and lift passes in Valtourneche.
Spa and swimming pool ★★★★★
In the basement of the hotel is a small gym and access to the indoor and outdoor spa pools. A large outdoor swimming pool is also open in summer time. In black tiles, and low lighting, it is a very sexy spa indeed. Sadly, we didn’t indulge, preferring to race off to the ski slopes instead, but we will be back.
Our verdict ★★★★★
This hotel made it onto our list of the most enchanting, luxury hotels we have stayed in. There are only 11 hotels on that list, despite us having visited hundreds in our time, so it is a high accolade indeed. The service was superb, the location stunning and the facilities perfect for a romantic weekend away.
Need more convincing?
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