A warm welcome awaits in wintry St. Moritz. After a scene-stealing train journey ascending through the sleepy Swiss alps from Zurich, upon arrival, a vintage Ford bus and well-bedecked driver are on-hand to whisk you up the last leg to Suvretta House, a glorious and glamorous chalet-style hotel based 50 yards from the base of the pistes. For fans of something more modern, racing-green Teslas are also on hand.
Why stay here
An old grande dame of the Swiss skiing scene, Suvretta House’s imposing, palatial structure sits about a mile from the town of St. Moritz. The hotel has a shuttle to whizz you about should you feel the urge to explore, but your best bet is to stay within its calming, cosy confines. It’s part fairy-tale castle, part lodge; constructed in 1912, many of the stunning original features remain – the Suvretta Stube restaurant is the oldest part of the hotel and feels like you’ve stepped into a magical train carriage, only one where endless raclette is served.
Inside, the grandeur continues with yawning, vaulted ceilings and outsized windows creating portraits of the wispy trees and dappled, snowy mountains beyond; fires crackle in imposing fireplaces inscribed with intricate wooden carvings.
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Even at this scale, it’s comfortable – the hotel is a place where generations of families come and stay together (Christmas is booked up two years in advance). The interiors are a hybrid of Swiss and British styling; the English relationship with the hotel and region go way back. Indeed, a recent refurb was completed by UK interior designer Sue Freeman who sourced all of the materials from the British Isles. Those creature comforts don’t come at the cost of service though – it’s a slick, efficient and attentive affair.
Rooms and suites
The 171 rooms and ten suites follow the grand theme and are a lesson in old-school elegance, with sumptuous dark wood and light hued soft furnishings. Gargantuan windows are filled with stark white mountains, a perpetually moving image as the sun shifts through the day, moving through shades of blue and purple and eventually black, with minute arcs of light from snow-ploughs bashing the pistes at night like tiny, snow-bound explorers.
Soft, comfy, huge beds are just what the weary skier ordered – after a bath dosed with relaxing epsom salts in your monochrome marbled bathroom.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast is a gorgeous spread of Alpine treats – meats, cheeses, Swiss speciality bircher – with a distinct nod towards health and the sporting nature of the hotel. The in-house bakery manages to produce 60 types of bread every night served across the restaurants.
Suvretta Stube, tucked away in the lower, older part of Suvretta House, is a bistro doing a range of Swiss classics and food from the canton of Graubünden – star of the show is the manager Kurt who has been here more than 30 years. The raclette is a must-order – they’ll bring you plate after plate till you meekly wave “no more” before rolling off to bed.
The jewel in Suvretta’s crown is the Grand Restaurant; it’s one of those rooms you walk into that transports you somewhere. It’s built entirely of oak, around 100 yards long, and is all sultry, decadent charm. It’s got a strict dark suit and tie dress code – the elegance this delivers to the scene is matched in the theatre of the entire experience, lived out under the shimmering light from custom-made murano glass chandeliers. This is a restaurant about showmanship and flamboyance – classic French old world food served with style, tableside – steak tartare, a glorious foie stuffed beef wellington for two, crepes suzette flambe.
For pre-dinner drinks there’s Anton’s Bar, named after the hotel’s founder, where you can sample Suvretta House’s own Ladies and Gents gin. Slopeside, mountain restaurant Trutz (owned by the hotel) is a safe bet; packed with locals and tourists alike, it’s buzzing – service is friendly, the food is hearty, warming fare and the beer is very, very cold.
What to do
You’re here to ski – you can walk two minutes from the hotel’s on-site ski storeroom to the base of the pistes. Suvretta House has its own lift, decked out in its favourite racing green, which is open to the public, but residents can skip the queue. From here you can access just under 100 miles of pistes which is plenty to keep you occupied for a week or two. There’s also an ice rink to spin about on.
There are Nordic walks from the hotel up into the mountains with picnic rewards provided at the end. In summer, there are plenty of other activities including swimming in Alpine lakes (warmer than you might think), hiking, tennis played on courts with fabulous views down the slopes as well as mountain biking.
Apres-ski here equals spa time – a large pool, an outdoor heated jacuzzi, multiple saunas, steam rooms and a freezing cold plunge pool for the bold await.
William Leigh was a guest of Suvretta House. Winter rates start from CHF630 (approx. £567) per night in a double room on a half-board basis (breakfast and dinner). Suvretta House, Via Chasellas 1, CH-7500 St. Moritz, Switzerland; suvrettahouse.ch
For more Switzerland travel information and things to do, see MySwitzerland.com. SWISS offers more than 160 weekly flights from various UK airports to Zurich or Geneva. One-way fares start from £76 to Zurich and from £54 to Geneva, and include all taxes, fees and surcharges, one piece of checked luggage weighing up to 23kg and one piece of hand luggage. For more information see swiss.com
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