First things first: you don’t have to be a skier to visit the Gstaad Palace, one of the most glamourous alpine hotspots in Switzerland. If you do come for the slopes, there’s over 125 miles of them in the Gstaad region. But there’s an undeniable year-round magic to this fairytale hotel. First opened on 8 December 1913, the hotel boomed in popularity in the 1960s as a winter clubhouse to the international jet set and wealthy regulars. Now, it proudly walks the line between five-star luxury (and five-star service) and Heidi-style alpine glamour.
These were our highlights:
- The Walig Hut
If you’re after the Alpine dream of rolling green hills surrounded by snow-dusted mountains, looming pine trees and horizons dotted with old wooden cabins, then Gstaad Palace has the answer. Enter the charming Walig Hut, which sits 5,000ft in the mountains and a half hour drive from the Palace. It was built in 1786 by a farmer who, as per Swiss tradition, would lead his herd of cows from the valley for summer pasture every year. Apart from a few careful restorations, it’s nearly exactly the same as 200 years ago. There are chunky throws, a log fire and thick, low wooden beams – and the most staggering mountain views. Gstaad Palace will arrange a car for you, but the hike is unforgettable. You can stay overnight, or just enjoy a three-course meal with local ingredients and Swiss wine.
- The Palace Spa
There’s an Olympian-sized outdoor swimming pool, a blissful heated indoor pool, tennis courts and a high-tech gym (if you’re that way inclined on holiday). But the stand-out leisure facility at Gstaad Palace is, of course, the spa. There’s something instantly calming about the spa’s waiting area, complete with fireplace, mountain views (of course) and its dark stone walls, made with granite from the nearby Blausee region. It feels distant and exotic, but comforting at the same time – a bit like you’re chilling, pyjama-clad, in your dream home. In terms of treatments, we recommend a facial with the newly-introduced Margy’s Monte Carlo. Founder Margie Lombard has created a truly unique line of high-quality skincare, but using only pure substances produced by the body, imitated using Swiss bio-technology. Sounds super fancy, but the results couldn’t be more clean and natural-feeling.
- The Train Journey
Usually the onward journey after a flight is a serious strain on our positivity. Expensive airport taxis, crowded coaches, bumpy bus journeys – we’re not here for it. Except when it’s the mind-blowingly beautiful train journey from Geneva to Gstaad. From Geneva Airport, you hop on the train to Montreux which snakes around the expanse of impossibly blue Lake Geneva, from where you travel to Gstaad. These delightfully old trains often have panoramic windows, and as you zoom further into the mountains, the views become even more incredible. Just make sure to bag a window seat for prime photo opps. Visit the Swiss Travel System site for more information.
- Le Grand Restaurant & La Grand Terrasse
As if the big, comfortable rooms, spa and Olympic swimming pool weren’t enough – Gstaad Palace also boasts five restaurants and a lobby bar, warmly known as ‘the cross-roads of Gstaad’. But the hotel’s main restaurant, Le Grand Restaurant with accompanying outside area La Grand Terrasse, should be any guest’s first foodie port of call. There are, as you’ve probably guessed by now, panoramic mountain views from the restaurant, and a buffet is offered every Saturday evening. Mouth-watering international cuisine is served up all year, and the barbecues full of local meat and fresh vegetables are not to be missed during the summer months. If you’re lucky enough to visit when fondue or raclette is on the menu, save room. You won’t regret it.