“We started the company four and a half years ago with a piece of land and some old barns,” says Benoît Greindl, co-founder of Montagne Alternative. This small Swiss firm offers skiing and hiking enthusiasts the chance to stay in one of their four barns in the ancient village of Commeire in the Swiss Valais. Some of the barns date back 300 years and, although their interiors sport slick mod-cons, the firm has painstakingly preserved the original architecture of the exterior. Barns sleep up to 28 people and the Creta Vella barn, which opened last December, has a conference room with views of the Mont Blanc mountain range and Mont Vélan. Open all year round, Montagne Alternative will unveil three more barns in the next two years. montagne-alternative.com
Residents in Italy’s Valtellina region and passing Milanese gourmets call in on family-run food purveyor Ciapponi in Morbegno when in need of Alpine treats. Alberto Ciapponi, together with his cousin Paolo, are the third generation to work behind the counter, though the actual cantina is thought to date back to 1692. Favourite foodstuffs include bresaola (cured beef), Sassella wine and bitto, a cow-and-goat’s milk cheese that is aged for up to 10 years.
Named after the poet, Keats House near Yutenji Station may first appear like a ramshackle Japanese residence, but this restaurant-wholefoods store, refurbished with recycled timber, is carefully thought-out. The warm interior also houses the excellent Keats & Chaya café.
Keats House, 2-8 Yutenji Meguro-ku, + 81 33 6312 2003
The menu changes seasonally but we loved the Japanese-style chicken hamburger set.
New hotel chain UK
Swire Hotels has launched a new British brand, Chapter Hotels. Housed in period buildings, each hotel will reference its surroundings. The first property opened in Cheltenham with one to follow in Exeter. chapterhotels.com
The Shangri-la is a hotel brand used to placing itself in the world’s newest and tallest skyscrapers. Its latest hotel in Paris, however, is rather different. On the site of a converted 19th-century mansion, it has undergone a meticulous four-year restoration. With just 81 rooms, it marks a new, more intimate direction for the brand. It will be opening similarly boutique-sized hotels in Vienna and Istanbul in the next two years.
Restaurante Rosa Maria
Nestled in the well-heeled Vila Madalena neighbourhood of São Paulo, Rosa Maria opened last September. The restaurant’s mid-20th-century building was redesigned by Brazilian architects Zemel + Chalabi to create a cosy gastronomic experience. “Our intention was to offer a contemporary space to contrast with the traditional cuisine,” says co-owner Rodrigo Bueno. “We are what you’d call comfort food, but with a strong classic cuisine bias.”