Andorra exceeded all my expectations by far! Such an enjoyable week in the snowy mountains.
A few main points before I give you a run down of our week –
Our hotel *made* our stay, 100/10 definitely recommend.
We took our dog Pablo with us and it was the actual best decision about this holiday as Andorra is very dog friendly and Pablo had the best time [he told me so]. He was allowed into all the retail shops and restaurants with us, he was always acknowledged, provided water and patted by staff, I never felt bad or out of place bringing him anywhere with us.
Nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees, Andorra is the 16th smallest country in the world, 11th by population and the 6th smallest country in Europe. Its capital, La Vella, is the highest city above sea level in Europe at an elevation of 1,023m.
We booked this trip veryyyy last minute as Pablo had his appointment to be neutered only a few days before the week off and we wanted to see how he was recovering before we booked anything.
I had previously found and saved a beautiful luxury boutique hotel on Instagram. The hotel sits at 2,100m above sea level, right on the mountain so you can literally ski right up to the door. It has a restaurant with indoor & outdoor seating, fromagerie, bar, spa [the list goes on] and the decor throughout the hotel and into the rooms is beautiful. A few days after his surgery, Pabs was recovering well so we went ahead and locked it in!
Read on about our week.
Andorra is an easy 6 hour drive from La Rochelle thats mostly all 130km highway. When we got to the border there was no officials checking the cars so we went right through. Our hotel sits at the top of Andorra and was only a 5 minute drive from the boarder.
When we were checking in, they let us know that there was a bigger room available for 3 out of our 4 nights if we wanted to take it so we jumped on that and booked ourselves into the Deluxe Suite for 3 nights. The room was amazing! A huge space split into two parts – a lounge room with couches, a TV and desk and the other an open plan bedroom with another tv, walk in wardrobe and french doors opening onto the balcony looking right out to the snowy mountains and ski field. The bathroom was open as well with a big bath looking out onto some more mountains. A real life winter dream.
Once we were unpacked and settled in it started snowing!!! We put on some warm clothes and ran outside to get amongst the snow. It was Pablos first time in the snow and he took it like a champ, he had SO much fun! There was heaps of space for him to run around off the lead.
We rented a snow sled from a shop below the hotel for €7 and had so many laughs! Ihaia went first and took a few times to get the hang of it and Pablo looooved running around after the sled! I had one really bad ending on the sled hahaha if you saw it on our Instagram stories then you know! I had Pablo in a jacket and was constantly checking his ears to see if he was cold but he didn’t get too cold at all, I think he was keeping himself warm from all his running around.
We spent just over an hour outside our hotel sledding and enjoying the snow before heading back up to the room to chill.
After 5 months of restaurants and cafes being closed in France, we were really looking forward to having a meal in the hotel restaurant. We enjoyed dinner and dessert with Pabs at our feet.
We finished our day with a movie in bed while watching it !snow outside! I fell asleep at 11pm woke up numerous times throughout the night to look out the gap we’d left in the curtains to watch the snow fall.
Pabs had us up pretty early! So I was awake for a while at 5am but felt so excited to be where we were. I could see the snow was still falling and I had my husband and dog right next to me… it honestly felt so magical. Very thankful!
We had pre-ordered our breakfast to the room the night before that got delivered around 9am and we enjoyed our breakfast in bed.
I then decided to run the huge bath/jacuzzi that’s in our room because why not have a bath while watching the snow fall outside. I cracked open the window by the bath so the icy cold air was coming through while being in the hot water. Bliss.
We decided to spend some time in the main town of Andorra called La Vella to do some shopping and have lunch. It was a 30 minute drive into town from our hotel.
Andorra is tax free so most of the shopping is cheaper by a bit. We also filled up our car for around 30euros and in France it’s around 80euros to fill. Supermarkets here are also cheaper than the neighbouring countries, Spain and France, and I read online that some people that are close to the boarder literally come to Andorra to do a bulk grocery and petrol shop to save money.
We ate at the claaassssic Hard Rock Cafe which I hadn’t eaten at in yeeeeeeears before looking around the shops that are mostly down one long street along with a few malls and restaurants.
We spent about 3-4 hours in La Vella before heading back up the mountain to our hotel.
I had a coaching call for my studies to attend at 6pm so after a little time relaxing, I was on the call for a few hours. Probably had the best view anyones had being on one of those calls too!
Our friends, Dillyn and Naz, had been staying in the city for a few nights and joined us at our hotel this afternoon and are staying here for the rest of their time. We ended the day with a double date at the restaurant for dinner. We left Pablo in the room for that despite his loud protests! Sorry neighbouring rooms!
Woke up to a beautiful blue bird day. The views out of the deluxe suite are so good!
We ate breakfast in the restaurant by the fire and looking out onto the snowy mountains that I will never get tired of looking at. The restaurant is quite big with different levels and spaces and the decor is really nice.
After breakfast, we hired out some snow sleds with our friends. So many laughs like the first time for Ihaia and I, its the hardest I’ve laughed in a long time! Just the mishaps that happen when you’re getting the hang of it and then when you get more confident and try doing different things. And the fact that we’re 4 grown ass adults on these sleds!
We spent a while sledding and then headed to the outdoor area of the hotel restaurant for some drinks. We spent a couple of hours sitting there with our drinks, watching the skiers, snowboarders and sledders come down the mountains. Sitting with that view under the blue sky and hot sun, surrounded by the thick snow with our puppy dog and friends… was such a moment. We ate a late, delicious lunch at the restaurant before having a quick power nap.
After our nap we headed to the hotel spa. I spent some time in the jacuzzi and pool doing some hot colds and Ihaia also went in the sauna. The spa also had a small gym and massage and facial facilities.
We’ve been eating so well/so much this holiday so decided just to have a couple of snacks in the room for dinner instead of having a meal in the restaurant. We watched a movie and chilled.
Today was so good and I’m so happy here. This place is picture perfect and the vibes are immaculate. I’m very thankful we’ve caught some European snow this winter.
After breakfast in the restaurant, we moved rooms from our upgraded deluxe suite to a junior suite for our last night. The junior suite was really nice and still spacious.
We had booked something exciting the night before and met our friends in reception at 11am to go snowmobiling! Dillyn and Ihaia both drove with Naz and I on the back of each one. We followed the guide around a track on the mountains that went high and low, over bridges and streams and past dog sleds, hikers and skiers. It was a good way to see more of the mountain seem we weren’t skiing and a fun activity to do! We booked it through our hotel reception and it was 50euros for each mobile for 30 minutes.
Once that was finished, we walked the few hundred meters back to the hotel and collected Pabs from the room for a play in the snow. He’s enjoying these more than a standard walk around the block, thats for sure! It was another hot day so we sat outside for lunch and we were burning… definitely t-shirt and shorts weather and thats not what I’d packed for our week in the snow! The weather app said it was 5degrees but felt like 30 to be honest. Ihaia and I shared some chicken croquettes and a pasta dish for lunch.
After a quick refresh in the room we got in one car and drove back down to the town, La Vella for a Covid-19 test that Naz had booked us in for that afternoon. It was a mouth swab instead of up the nose and I was so happy about that! The mouth swab I found so easy. We walked around the shops again and stopped off at “Cereal Hunters” cafe for a snack because yum who doesn’t love cereal?!
I requested we ride the ferris wheel before driving back up to our hotel. Side story – when we moved to France I was so scared of ferris wheels I could never get on them because I didn’t like heights and they made me feel dizzy but in our first year here I said I wanted to get better at them as most towns actually have one. So I’ve been on a few now and always want to go on one if I spot them.
We ate our last dinner in the restaurant together and then I ran myself a bubble bath to end the night.
The last morning always hurts! We ate breakfast in the restaurant and discussed if we should keep waiting for our Covid test results to come in on email [within 24hrs from 3.40pm the day before], go and collect them from the town or just to risk it at the border. We all wanted to leave that morning/midday instead of the afternoon when we were expecting our results so we decided to just risk it at the border as it was close to the hotel and we could always come back and wait if we got turned away. We choose to go through the border at lunch time as you know how seriously the French take their lunch time… ha!
We packed up, checked out and held our breath approaching the border… and we didn’t get stopped!!! So headed straight back through to France! Our results came through a few hours later while we were still driving, all negative.
RECAP OF ANDORRA –
This holiday I hadn’t “prepped” for or had much time to look forward to turned into being an absolute DREAM of a winter wonderland getaway. The hotel was amazing and really made our time what it was.
Andorra was very relaxed and welcoming. Everyone seemed to speak English, French and Spanish which is impressive!
Easy to drive around. Good shopping. Lots of restaurant options.
Happy we got all seasons of weather… cloudy, snow falling, blue skies and sunny. I’d recommend a winter visit 100%.
Covid test was easy to organzine and do and was 40euros per test.
We LOVED taking Pablo away with us, he really flourished in the new environment, discovering snow for the first time, lots of stimulation, new things to sniff, coming with us into shops, waiting for us at cafes and restaurants and sleeping next to our bed. I felt more relaxed with him and enjoyed every minute of his company with us on this trip. I loved being able to take him with us!