When I arrived in St. Moritz after dark, the landscape around the grand Badrutt’s Palace Hotel had completely disappeared into the ink-black winter night. But when I pulled open my curtains and stepped onto my balcony the next morning at sunrise, I found that I had awakened in the midst of the Swiss Alps.
Of course, I knew that mountains surrounded St. Moritz, a long-famous ski town. I just hadn’t realized that the peaks would be right there when I looked out my window.
I’d come to Switzerland not to ski, but to attend the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, which Badrutt’s Palace has been hosting for the past 25 years. Yet even outside this delicious winter food fest, which brings in international master chefs for 10 days of food and wine events, this classic luxury mountain hotel sparkles with stars, Michelin and otherwise.
Here’s the scoop:
Imagine a posh Alpine manor, where guests sashay through the lobby in tuxedos and evening gowns, and you can probably imagine what Badrutt’s Palace looked like when it opened back in 1896.
Over the years, the hotel’s guests have included Hollywood luminaries from Rita Hayworth to Charlie Chaplin to Alfred Hitchcock, who was a regular enough guest that the hotel still has a “Hitchcock” suite, where the director used to stay. Although hotel staff remain discreetly mum about more contemporary celebrities, they did acknowledge that George Clooney has visited more than once and Middle Eastern royals have booked recent stays.
These days, guests may be more likely to come clomping through the majestic lobby — which retains its original carved wood ceiling — in parkas and winter boots than in ball gowns. Even so, the polished staff, elaborate architectural details (including these ornate curved stairwells), and old-world ambiance make Badrutt’s Palace seem no less elegant.
Pool and Spa
It’s not just the lobby and public spaces that feel posh. I could have spent hours in the hotel’s expansive pool and spa, which guests access through an interior tunnel.
From the massive circular indoor pool, you can take in the mountain views through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and swim from indoors to a small heated outdoor pool, where it’s particularly lovely to soak as snow gently falls. If you’d prefer to do your soaking inside, head for the hot tub in an indoor grotto.
In the spa, which offers the full range of massages, facials, and other treatments, you can also alternate between hot and cold in the several saunas, eucalyptus steam room, showers of varying types and temperatures, and a bracing ice room. It would be tempting to spend your entire stay in the spa and pool.
With eight restaurants open during the winter season (and three in the summer), you don’t have to go far for food. A highlight is dinner at IGNIV, which earned a Michelin star in 2017, and which serves a parade of wildly creative small courses.
Le Restaurant is the hotel’s main dining room, overlooking the mountains, where even the breakfast buffet maintains the dignified ambience. White jacketed waiters intercept you at the buffet line to carry your plates back to your table, and classical music plays softly in the background. One morning, a harpist entertained guests, as we filled our plates with fresh fruits, several types of yogurt, croissants and other pastries, fresh-baked breads, quiche, a selection of cheeses, and numerous varieties of cured meats and fish, plus omelettes cooked to order.
Badrutt’s also has a Japanese-Peruvian Restaurant, Matsuhisa, created by Japanese celebrity chef Nobu, with a sushi bar and open kitchen.
Across the street and up a short hill from the main hotel building, Chesa Veglia Restaurant is housed in a former farmhouse. From the classic Swiss menu, I enjoyed a regional specialty known as capuns, a cabbage roll stuffed with potatoes and vegetables, then baked with cheese on top.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
With the impressive public spaces, pool and spa, and dining and drinking options, you may not spend that much time in your room — though I welcomed the opportunity to sink into the comfortable bed in my traditionally-appointed quarters at the end of each day.
Spread across several wings of the seven-story property, the hotel’s 157 guest rooms come in five different categories, including 37 suites.
Some look over the adjacent lake (which freezes for skating in winter) and the mountains, while others face the village with more mountains beyond. Some units have been more recently updated, others remain more old-style; ask when booking if you have a preference.
A nice perk in all the guest rooms: the minibar is stocked with complimentary beer and soft drinks.
The marble baths, with black granite countertops, are spacious, with bathtubs and separate rainshowers, as well as plush terrycloth robes. On the bed is an old-fashioned hot water bottle, with a cheeky cover suggesting, “If nobody keeps you warm tonight, let it be me.”
When To Go
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is open from December through April and again from late June through early September, closing in the spring and fall.
Winter is ski season and the hotel’s peak time; summer is popular for hiking holidays and family getaways, particularly in July and August.
Double room rates at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel start at about US$475 per night and go much higher during the winter season. Rates include transfers to and from the St. Moritz train station (which has service to Zurich’s international airport, three hours away) and around town in hotel cars ranging from minivans to Rolls Royces. Packages including ski passes are also available. Book your stay at the hotel website or Travelocity.
Guests who book a suite have complimentary butler service, so even if you don’t spot a celebrity during your stay at this grand Swiss hotel, you’ll certainly feel like one.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, along with Switzerland Tourism, arranged my stay for review purposes.