When, after the end of the Second World War, tourists began to arrive in the Alps, those pristine landscapes must have been a balm. Spread across eleven European countries (France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania), the largest mountain range in Europe comprises a succession of ecosystems and natural settings of legendary beauty.

The more than 200,000 square kilometers of alpine territory have giants such as Mont Blanc (the highest peak, at 4,807 meters), mighty rivers, waterfalls, lakes and glaciers.

Picturesque towns and valleys covered in an impossible green, crisscrossed by the unmistakable alpages: the meadows dotted with flowers, the setting for films like The Sound of Music. Without forgetting those thick forests where goats, marmots and bears live and native trees grow such as the long-lived Pinus cembra, whose wood has been the traditional construction material for typical alpine chalets.

The Alps are a paradise in Europe and, since those first visitors began to arrive, they have also become a magnet for tourism, both in winter and summer. A tourism that can become overwhelmed by the offer that exists in this vast area. And just for skiing, which continues to be the driving force of this industry, there are, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, more than 600 resorts. Almost half are in Austria, along with Switzerland, the alpine country par excellence.

The Austrian, Swiss, French, Italian and German Alps are the protagonists of the book The Alps—Hotels, Destinations, Culture, published by the Monacelli publishing house. In it, its author, hospitality expert Sebastian Schoellgen, proposes a selection of 84 establishments in the mountains of these five countries.

Schoellgen knows the Alps well: he fell in love with them early, when, as a child, he began to spend summers and winters with his parents: “If you ask me about almost any mountain in the Alps, I can tell you its details. I still have dozens of drawings of my favorite peaks and hotels. He was already hooked,” he writes in the book’s prologue. And from this connection arises precisely this project, where, like the curator of a museum, he has selected the most special establishments.

From discreet family hotels, where traditional fondues are served, to the great ladies of Alpine hospitality, such as the Le Grand Bellevue hotel in Gstaad and the Villa Honegg, facing Lake Lucerne. Without forgetting the irresistible spas in Val Thorens, Verbier and Cervinia, the new eco-hotels, the rustic chalets, with their wooden shutters and balconies, full of flowers, and minimalist apartments, in which the light and the landscapes filter in, as if They were paintings, through huge windows.

Through more than two hundred images, the author reveals to us the most secret and chic places to shop, eat, sleep, walk and discover the cultural life that also exists in these mountains. An exclusive guide through wonderful, but fragile landscapes: its beauty and its location, in rich Europe, mean that the Alps have also become one of the most endangered mountain areas in the world.