One of Europe’s ‘Grand Dammes’ of hospitality, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in snazzy St. Moritz has been synonymous with glamour, the quintessence of refined luxury and understated, yet very present, glitz for the last 124 years since opening in 1896. Over the years, the hotel has always been ‘the place to be’ for those seeking the ultimate mountain holiday experience.
As the birthplace of modern winter tourism that began in 1864, St. Moritz snugly nestled in Switzerland’s Engadin valley in the Canton of Graubünden, has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. Nevertheless, St. Moritz first became famous thanks to its mineral springs, which were discovered 3,000 years ago and established the lake-side town as a summer spa resort early on.
When I found myself fresh off a train from Zurich, deposited at the tiny, but functional St. Moritz train station, waiting for me outside was a souped-up jet black 1960’s Rolls-Royce Phantom. My chauffeur told me was once owned by none other than Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of England and, just like that, my initiation into the charms and glamour of St. Moritz had begun and I had not even left the train station.
The hotel itself is an oasis of vintage luxe with my favourite place in the hotel instantly being Le Grand Hall, on first sight. The legendary lobby of the hotel with its stunning views, extravagant décor and fantastic architecture is known affectionately as the ‘living room of St. Moritz’. In fact, it was sitting here that the iconic film director Alfred Hitchcock first thought of creating a film script about birds, when he saw a large flock of mountain birds soaring high over the hotel into the blue Engadin sky. The result, the 1963 horror classic, The Birds.
The hotel’s biggest trump card is its collection of 157 rooms and suites all done up in an old-world style, all affording breathtaking views of the St. Moritz Alps. One can even stay at the hotel’s Hitchcock Suite made in honour of the man that is full of charm and simply oozes history. It is said that Hitchcock stayed here every year for Christmas but loved winter sports just “from a distance”. No wonder, as the suite with lots of wood gives a sense of safety while overlooking Lake St. Moritz.
Offering a wide swathe of restaurants and bars to choose from, the hotel takes care of all your needs to the hilt. From the cosy, Belle Epoque charms of Le Relais restaurant that offers French cuisine for lunch daily (in winter) to King’s Club, a must for all party animals and fans of sophisticated nightlife, guests have an eclectic selection. A personal favourite, the Chesa Veglia is outside the main hotel complex, a few hundred meters away in town.
As one of the oldest farmhouses of St. Moritz, built in 1658, Chesa Veglia is a hideaway for the rich and famous and its restaurants are among the favourites in St. Moritz. It features three restaurants and two bars: The Pizzeria Heuboden for original Italian pizza and pasta, the Grill Chadafö for elegant dining with classic French cuisine and the Patrizier Stuben for Swiss and international specialities. The Polo Bar and Carigiet Bar are the perfect place for a get-together, as well as for pre- and post-dinner drinks.
Often regarded as Switzerland’s best hotel spa, this is an oasis of tranquillity and rejuvenation. Aptly called the Palace Wellness Spa, the subterranean, cave-like spa is a mammoth 1,700 square meters of luxury with the oval indoor pool at its very core. The spa has a treatment centre with 10 treatment rooms, two private spa-suites, an in-house hairdressing salon, solarium, four massage treatment rooms and additional beauty treatment rooms. In the Wet Zone are several saunas, steam baths, multi-sensory showers and quiet rooms. Once again, all with breathtaking views of the St. Moritz Alps.
Some of the most popular treatments at the spa are their two two-day packages called The Morning After and The Burn Off. While the former focuses on detoxing the system and then regenerating it through a beneficial scalp and body massage complete with facial, The Burn Off package is a literal fat burner. A 70-minute workout packs a punch at the calories followed by an Alpine body wrap to firm and tone the body.
Eager to explore more of this idyllic region of Switzerland, on my last day in St. Moritz, I hit the mountains with a vengeance, ready to take on the two-hour long Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard hike. A short, 15 minutes’ drive from the hotel and I was deposited at the Punt Muragl funicular station. The bright red funicular took no more than seven minutes to take me up to Muottas Muragl which was where my hike’s path began. Here is where one can find the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps, the Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl and a special little path called Senda d’Inspiraziun.
My path was different, however. Not particularly challenging, but a tad winded by the sudden change in altitude, my hike started off with me trying my best to acclimatise, amidst a bit of huffing and puffing. Soon the black ice (it was spring, after all) covered path seemed an easy stroll and off I went, taking in the fresh Alpine air my city-weary lungs so desperately sought out.
In a nutshell
Very few hotels can boast of the stunning vistas, unrivalled beauty, attentive service and overall decadence that a grand hotel like Badrutt’s Palace Hotel can offer. Thus, making this legendary hotel your ultimate choice of residence when in St. Moritz.
Address: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, Via Serlas 27, 7500 St. Moritz, Switzerland
Phone: +41 81 8371000
The hotel will be back from its beauty sleep on December 5th, 2020 and will welcome guests again for the winter season, until April 6th, 2021. Per night rates for rooms and suites start from CHF 490.00.
Getting there: There are daily direct flights from India, UK and around the world to Zurich, Switzerland on world-class airlines such as Swiss International Airlines. Visit swiss.com for details.
From Zurich, the picturesque Glacier Express train is the best way to get to St. Moritz in style and luxury in under three hours. Visit glacierexpress.ch for more information.
Hotel photography courtesy of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel