Those looking to be in the thick of the action in Chamonix can do no better than the stately Grand Hôtel des Alpes, occupying its site on the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Rue du Docteur Paccard, since 1840. The lifts to Planpraz and Brévent, as well as the Aiguille du Midi cable car and small train to Mer de Glace, are just a short walk away, while the best of the village’s restaurants, bars, and shopping are just outside your door. (If you’d rather sleep through the nightly revelry below, request a room in back with river and mountain views.) For years the building was an abandoned blight in the middle of town, but it was restored in the late 1990s and completely renovated in 2004, incorporating contemporary luxuries like marble bathrooms while preserving traditional touches like solid oak paneling and details. In winter, the hotel offers a daily tea service with cakes at 4 p.m. as well as an aperitif buffet at 6:30 p.m. Though it doesn’t offer lunch or dinner, the breakfast spread is impressive and in good weather can be enjoyed on the terrace facing the Arve river. After an active day, relax in the spa with its indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and an array of massage treatments.