For decades, the rich and famous have been flocking to the picture postcard Swiss resort of Gstaad. With exceptional levels of hospitality and a spectacular choice of luxury hotels, it’s no wonder that this charming village has been a long time haunt for the elite. Famous guests and residents have included Julie Andrews, Brigitte Bardot and none other than Mr Bond himself, Roger Moore. Look beyond the designer boutiques (of which there are plenty) and you’ll find that underneath the glitz and glamour, Gstaad is at its heart a traditional farming community with an extremely warm heart.
The journey to Gstaad is part of its attraction. Hop on the train at Geneva Airport, change trains in Montreux and you’ll be in resort in under three hours. You’ll be treated to spectacular views of Lake Geneva along the way, and if you time it right, you may even find yourself on a Belle Époque style train (an experience I can thoroughly recommend!).
Once you’ve made it to Gstaad, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a luxury 5-star hotel. The iconic Gstaad Palace Hotel looks more like a castle than a hotel, and is hard to miss no matter where you are in Gstaad. Its elevated position means that you are treated to stunning views throughout the property and the understated elegance of its décor will leave you with a sense of calm and well-being. Fantastic facilities at the hotel include a beautiful spa and wellness centre, a huge collection of restaurants offering a varied choice of culinary delights and enormous suites where you can’t help but feel relaxed. I highly recommend enjoying a delicious fondue at the charmingly rustic ‘La Fromagerie’.
The Park Gstaad was the first hotel to open in Gstaad at the beginning of the 20th century but don’t be fooled by its age. It has a contemporary and relaxed feel and all the facilities you could wish for, perfect to indulge in a spot of pampering. Not only are there excellent spa facilities, you’ll also find a golf simulator, ice rink, a superb choice of dining options and even a cheese cellar. I personally recommend dining at the ‘Chubut’ restaurant serving delicious Argentinian specialities. All the 5-star properties in Gstaad provide a fantastic shuttle service on demand, but if you fancy strolling through the cobbled streets in the centre of town, it’s just a 5 minute walk away.
Built in 2012, The Alpina Gstaad is a later addition to the village and enjoys a secluded location on the hillside with fabulous view of the stunning scenery. The rooms are beautifully decorated, while the public areas boast craftsmanship and style. Relax in the Six Senses Spa, dine in one of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurants or indulge in some wine from the hotel’s cellar (of which there are more than 1700 to choose from).
There’s plenty to keep non-skiers happy in Gstaad. Big name boutiques in the centre of town include Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Ralph Lauren, making Gstaad a shopping paradise. Alternatively, why not opt for a picturesque horse-drawn sleigh ride through the forest to Lake Lauenen? It’s a fantastic way to spend a relaxing few hours and a pit stop at the charming Bochtehus Beizli comes highly recommended. The ladies that run this rustic mountain hut are delightful and serve hearty, delicious meals in a very cosy setting, proving that not everything in Gstaad is all about glitz and glamour.
If you’ve got any time left for skiing, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find easy access to a vast array of slopes and the best thing about skiing in Gstaad is how quiet the pistes are (perhaps because everyone is too busy shopping, pampering themselves and eating food to die for!). It’s an ideal choice for families and anyone looking to gain (or regain) confidence on the mountain.
Gstaad really left its mark on me and I’d go back in a heartbeat. It’s the perfect destination for anybody looking for an all-round mountain holiday. The skiing is great, but it’s almost like an added bonus to an already perfect destination.