The Snow Centre Hemel

Indoor Skiing in London

Five things you should know about being able to ski indoors in London.

1. You can’t do it

Yes, that’s right. Despite the UK being the second largest outbound market for skiing in the world, after Germany, there is no facility for snow skiing in the capitol. Why is that? Perhaps because most skiers live in the Home Counties outside London, although there’s no many facilities there either, strangely.

Maybe it’s lack of space? Clearly this is an issue, although some might very well argue that a ski slope would be better use of space than many other buildings (not mentioning any names) but we have to be realistic – London doesn’t have the kind of space that places such as Dubai or Landgraaf in The Netherlands has, where the world’s largest indoor slopes have been built.

Although The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe, after England, and they managed it.

2. There’s a history of dry slope skiing in London but that hasn’t translated to indoor snow slopes

During the 1980’s a few dry slopes sprung up around the London area, notably in Hillingdon and Beckton (AKA Beckton Alps). This was fuelled by the ‘ski boom’ of the 80’s where suddenly your average person could take a package holiday to the Alps – I first put on skis at Hillingdon Ski Centre and have fond memories of crossing London with skis in my Renault 5 to ski in Beckton.

Those slopes have not managed to survive or indeed adapt to become real snow slopes.

3. There’s help close by

The nearest indoor ski slope to central London is The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead – a 25 minute train journey from London Euston and a short taxi from the railway station.

So far The Snow Centre is the only facility of its kind to serve the London region. The next indoor ski slope is Xscape in Milton Keynes which is over an hour’s drive away.

The Snow Centre is a first class set up though and well worth the journey if the need for a slide becomes too much to handle.

4. There’s plans to build more

In 2013 we heard about a development in East London on the 2012 London Olympic venue site. An ambitious project to build a world class facility to rival that of Ski Dubai.

The shopping centre group Westfield, placed an application to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) – the plan to build around 20,000 square meters of snow slope that would include more shops, restaurants and hotels was, according to sources at the time, looking to be ready by 2015.

So far, not a brick has been laid, let alone a snow flake made.

5. There’s a direct train to the Alps if you want the real thing

So if you’re feeling a little more ambitious than a trip to Hemel, why not jump on the direct train to Bourg St Maurice in the heart of the French Alps?

The service runs through the winter from December 19th to April 9th – head off from central London’s St Pancras Station and arrive around 11 hours later. There’s an overnight service with sleeper options too.

There’s lots of resorts close by, including Les Arcs, La Plagne, Meribel, La Tania, Val d’Isère, Tignes, St Foy, Valmorel and Courchevel.

The only problem is when you get there, is that it’s not indoors.