Synonymous with old school glamour and historic mountain luxury, St Moritz conjures up images of fur coats, dinner jackets and cigar rooms. After enjoying a long weekend at the iconic 5* Badrutt’s Palace, I realised it was all these things but also much, much more.
After a quick transfer through Zurich Airport and onto the incredibly efficient Swiss Rail network, I settled in for a beautiful journey to St Moritz. Classic Swiss mountain vistas appear at the window only 20 minutes after leaving Zurich and these continue all the way for 3 hours 40 minutes. They say the best things in life take time…
On arrival into St Moritz I was greeted by my driver and escorted to a Badrutt’s Palace Hotel Rolls Royce to take me 3 minutes up the road to the hotel. Apart from the largest Christmas tree I have ever seen, the one thing that struck me was how much the staff at the Palace loved their job. This was five star Swiss service with a genuine smile.
I was lucky enough to stay in a beautiful room overlooking the frozen lake, the same iconic lake that plays host to a number of sporting events including the infamous Snow Polo World Cup. Style-wise this room was classic luxury with a chandelier, marble bathroom and elegant soft furnishings.
The whole ambience of the Palace is timeless elegance with grand fireplaces, high ceilings and classic furnishings. Yet when I got the lift down to spend a couple of hours in the spa, I certainly wasn’t expecting to exit the lift in a completely different world. The spa is built into the side of the mountain and upon the doors opening, you are greeted by a cavern within the mountain itself, which is beautifully lit and surrounded by the sound of running water. A short walk down a tunnel brings you to a huge glass surrounded spa area with views of mountains and the lake. The large indoor pool is bathed in natural light and the indoor/outdoor heated pool has a service button so you can enjoy a glass of champagne whilst enjoying the mountain peaks appearing through the trees and steam rising off the top of the pool.
After breakfast (with a live harpist!) I went for a wander around the town. There is fantastic shopping with big name designers as well as some smaller boutiques housing Swiss brands. After lunch at the Kulm Country Club, I met up with my group for the weekend. We began with a horse drawn carriage ride around town and ended the tour in Glattfelder, a tea and caviar shop. With a glass of champagne in hand we enjoyed caviar tasting – this was the St Moritz I had imagined.
The next morning we hit the slopes. The skiing is over two areas, Corviglia and Corvatsch.
Corviglia is located just above town with a funicular offering easy access to the main slopes. St Moritz claims to have 300 days of sunshine a year and while skiing perfectly groomed, sun bathed pistes, I believed it. Almost all the lifts were fast and efficient and it felt like a modern ski mountain that has had plenty of investment. With fantastic intermediate skiing, the slopes were wide open and quiet with views over the lake.
Around a 25 minute shuttle ride from central St Moritz, the moderately smaller, north facing area of Corvatsch offers slightly more challenging terrain and is where to find the best snow during busy or mild periods.
After another brief spa visit we dressed for dinner, unsure where we were headed. For our first course we were led through an unassuming small door and down some very narrow spiral stairs to the Palace Wine Cellar. Truly a vintage wine cellar and lit only by candlelight there were treasures abound from Lafite Rothschild to Dom Perrignon. We sat down in the Krug Stübli, a chalet style room in the corner of the cellar full of fur throws, sparkling glasses of Krug Champagne and enjoyed delicious truffle risotto.
Next up we headed upstairs to La Coupole, part of the Nobu Matsuhisa collection. This modern, buzzing restaurant has a lively atmosphere serving up fantastic sushi and Japanese-Peruvian specialities with great service. This was Badrutt’s Palace, 21st Century style with a semi-open kitchen and a blend of classic interiors with a modern twist, including a glass domed ceiling.
We finished the evening dancing the night away at the Kings Social House. Previously known as the Kings Social Club, it has been revived with British chef Jason Atherton taking the reins in the kitchen. This dining come dancing concept is another addition to the fresh, contemporary elements of a historic palace. Come 11pm the dancefloor is full and hosts a number of well-known European DJs throughout winter.
Things are moving on in this historical and iconic resort. Women are now permitted the full length of the Cresta Run (where previously this was men only), gaining speeds of over 100km/h on a luge. Original hotels are updating their rooms to appeal to a younger market while still keeping their elegance and glamorous atmosphere. There is going to be a brand new 5* Luxury property: the Grace Hotel, offering contemporary rooms and state of the art spa which is set to open in the next couple of years. The restaurant/bar scene is keeping up, and possibly overtaking, any other European resort.
On arrival into St Moritz a few days prior, I had expected fur coats, slightly uptight service and a higher than average age of clientele. Instead I discovered impeccable warmth and friendliness from staff and other guests, a great selection of traditional formal dining as well as new modern restaurants and a ski area that welcomes the casual to the most fanatical skiers of all ages. A contemporary ski experience done with elegance, glamour and of course, champagne.