Don’t get me wrong, I love living north of the border, but along with whisky drinking, caber tossing and ceilidh dancing, England-bashing is somewhat of a national pastime. So imagine my glee at arriving in St Moritz, where the locals have a real soft spot for anyone English. After all, it is the English (and local hotel owner and wily businessman, Johannes Badrutt) that are credited with bringing winter tourism to the area. The story goes that Mr. Badrutt invited a small party of English people to stay at his hotel (now Hotel Kulm) during the winter – the deal was that if they liked it, they could stay as long as they wanted. If not he’d pay for all their travel expenses. They arrived in December, greeted by Mr. Badrutt on a glorious sunny day and stayed til Easter!
Part of Mr. Badrutt’s plan to entice the group to visit centred around the glorious sunshine that St Moritz is now so famous for (their logo today is a symbol of the sun). On returning to London looking healthy and tanned, word soon spread and the rest is history!
St Moritz is part of the Engadin Valley and the resort gets over 320 days of sunshine per year, or so I’m told – I’ve seen a mix of sun, mist and snow the last few days – the latter is falling heavily as I sit on the train on my way back to Zurich, wishing I could stay and ski what will be incredible conditions. As it is, I’m very glad I’m not negotiating a hire car down the valley in this weather – the train journey is about an hour longer (in good weather) but would probably take at least the same time in these conditions. On my way up a few days ago the views were breathtaking – the train ride from Chur to St Moritz is Unesco protected and I would highly recommend it. Most hotels will pick you up/drop you off at St Moritz train station either free of charge or for a small fee. My driver from the 4* deluxe Hotel Nira Alpina dropped me off for the first train of the day and sent me on my way with a (very welcome) croissant as I had left before breakfast. This is one of many small touches and excellent service that make this 4* property feel special.
The Hotel Nira Alpina is located in the village of Surlej, 5km from St Moritz centre and is right next to the Corvatsch cable car (the hotel has its own walkway to access it). Corvatsch is one of two main ski areas, but unlike the other it is north facing and keeps its conditions best. Corviglia is the other area and its sunny slopes are particularly popular with guests staying in St Moritz centre or St Moritz Bad.
Boasting five 5* hotels and an impressive selection of designer shops (from Chanel and Louis Vuitton to Jimmy Choo and Dolce & Gabanna) there’s no doubt that St Moritz caters to the most discerning of tastes. And with the huge amount of history and tradition there, it’s no wonder people flock to see the polo on the frozen St Moritz lake or to catch a glimpse of the incredibly fast Cresta run racers (also started by The English!) But if you want to experience a more affordable side to St Moritz, my vote is definitely with the effortlessly chic Nira Alpina. With spacious rooms, two restaurants, a lunchtime bistro overlooking the slopes, an amazing bakery (don’t miss trying a cupcake), bar and great spa it has everything you need. And you can always get a lift into St Moritz centre for some window shopping!
Judging by the snowfall I’m grudgingly leaving behind, there’s still time to experience St Moritz for yourself this season – I’m already plotting my return.
Ski Independence feature a number of hotels in St Moritz and other resorts in Switzerland. For more information you can visit our website or call a member of the Ski Independence team on 0131 243 8097.