Exterior of Hotel La Majun, La Villa, Alta Badia, Italy

Hotel La Majun
La Villa, Alta Badia, Italy


Set in the eye-poppingly beautiful Dolomites in the sophisticated village of La Villa – and now even more easily accessible to UK travellers thanks to new-in-2023 London-Bolzano flights from SkyAlps – La Majun is a charming mountain bolthole run with love and pride by the Rinna family. Offering skiers virtually ski-in/ski-out access to the sprawling slopes of Alta Badia in winter, La Majun delivers equally effortless access to the region’s walking and biking trails in summer.

Sitting in the tiny, vaulted enoteca on our visit, candlelight flickering on its stone walls, Nathalie Rinna occasionally paused her animated retelling of the history of La Majun to welcome guests, most of them locals who take the same seat daily for their aperitif.

Meaning ‘barn’ in the local Ladin dialect, La Majun’s name reflects the history of this intimate 38-room hotel, which was originally home to Nathalie’s grandparents Giovanni and Giuditta. Giovanni worked as the village blacksmith until his premature death in the 1950s, leaving Giuditta with five children to care for. Unable to continue Giovanni’s blacksmith role (deemed inappropriate for a woman), Guiditta appealed to the owners of La Villa’s then sole hotel to share some guests with her, relocating her offspring to the garage to accommodate the paying visitors they sent her way.

As business took off, Nathalie’s mother Roberta would on her return home from school help prepare traditional Ladin barley soup and ‘Schlutzkrapfen’ pasta for guests, eventually becoming manager of the blossoming hotel. Having since relinquished official control to Nathalie, Roberta remains a presence in the hotel, her eagle eyes seizing immediately on rogue unplumped cushions or extinguished candles.

We share all this detail because family is integral to La Majun, not just because of these origins but because the Rinnas welcome guests so warmly that they become part of the family. A little hotel with a big personality, La Majun is an antidote to the world of sprawling, generic hotels in which contactless service is deemed a bonus. As we checked in, having literally stepped off the ski slopes, a glamorous Roberta expressed wide-eyed horror at the sight of us in her lobby – in ski socks and carrying our own luggage. Bejewelled hands fluttering, she gestured wildly at the reception staff to instantly bring us slippers and ‘a man’ to carry our bag (we imagine female blacksmiths remain a rarity in these parts…).

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While you’re Out There
When not soaking in La Majun’s rooftop hot tub, soak up the Dolomites in all their mighty splendour – on skis in winter and on foot or bike in summer. Skiers must try the La Crusc/Santa Croce gourmet ski tour: a gentle 4km-long circuit from La Villa to the Insta-perfect La Crusc church. The tour follows scenic blue pistes dotted with cosy mountain huts serving classic Ladin specialities and can be enjoyed on foot in summer.

Later, when we called the reception for some fresh milk for our tea to accompany the slab of delicious apple strudel we had discovered in our room, it was delivered within minutes, together with a steaming pot of loose-leaf tea and homemade biscuits. It was a similar scene at dinner in the sophisticated mountain-view restaurant, where the raven-haired and ample-bosomed maître d’ Marlina teased us about our lousy Italian accents, implored us to eat more and generally clucked over us like a mother hen. After shooing us off to the salad bar, Marlina talked us through the daily changing menu, which on our visit featured a blend of Ladin and classic Italian dishes like grilled octopus and venison ragout pappardelle, with contemporary flourishes like an amuse bouche in the form of a delectable mini charcoal burger with shrimp.

We enjoyed breakfast in the same light-filled room, watching early risers skiing past the windows as we plundered the rich offerings of a buffet that ran the gamut from pastries and cakes, cheeses and cold meats to muesli, yoghurts and vegetables for juicing, before tackling the cooked breakfast menu.

Much like the polished Rinna ladies themselves, La Majun errs on the side of glamour with its décor, all the while remaining true to its mountain soul. Many of the bedrooms and suites have emerged resplendent from a recent renovation and achieve a pleasing sense of Alpine modernity. (The bar, which Nathalie concedes is slightly tired, is next up for a refurb but barman Guiseppe more than makes up for any aesthetic fatigue with his killer Negronis and occasional spontaneous singing). Each room has its own balcony, affording views of the surrounding Lavarella, Piz La Ila, Kreuzkofel and Sella peaks, blending timber floors and panelling with deep-blue soft furnishings, the occasional crushed velvet cushion and snazzy backlit black and white glass panels.

Our junior Alpine suite was all black and white, with a glass wall featuring a monochrome image of a water-beaded leaf separating the bedroom from the walk-in shower and loo. All the little touches you’d hope for were present: locally made toiletries, a black make-up flannel, and a vanity kit containing oft-forgotten items like toothbrushes and razors.

But our favourite place to be at La Majun was the rooftop spa. After days spent skiing and eating our way around the expansive Alta Badia ski area (La Majun is conveniently located just a few ski-booted paces from the nearest chairlifts), we wrapped ourselves in fluffy robes and padded downstairs to the cavernous wellness area. First, a refreshing dip in the mountain-view pool, its rough-hewn stone walls and sinuous curves calling to mind a wild swim in a mountain clearing, and then past the Kneipp footbath, saunas, steam rooms and relaxation room to hit the rooftop hot tub. Set on a candlelit balcony, next to a firepit and overlooking the snow-topped Dolomites, the log fire-heated timber tub is undoubtedly the best seat in La Villa.

SkyAlps operates twice-weekly flights from London to Bolzano, available from www.skyalps.com


Photography courtesy of Hotel La Majun

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