For me, there is no feeling quite like that of skiing down snow-covered slopes surrounded by magical mountain scenery. So, when I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to the Swiss town of Gstaad, I couldn’t wait to get there! What awaited was an understated, classy and charming Swiss town that oozed old-world charm and exclusivity, complete with rustically luxurious chalets, and a pedestrianised high-street dotted by designer shops and gourmet eateries. Gstaad's exclusivity stretches to its skiing season which is relatively short – from around mid-December to March - though the summer also hosts a variety of wonderful activities to enjoy...
Arriving in style
Touching down in Geneva Airport, we were quickly whisked to the train station, boarding a charming vintage train for our transfer to Gstaad. I genuinely couldn’t believe just how gorgeous the views were as we sped along the edge of Lake Geneva – I could have stared all day! We quickly switched trains in Montreux, a traditional town on the edge of the lake and surrounded by dramatic hills. This beautiful town is known for its flower-lined walkways, grand buildings and the Montreux Jazz Festival that is held annually; definitely worth a potter round if you have time between trains. If you prefer to travel by air, Gstaad has its own private jet runway, as well as a heli-pad – making heli-skiing a popular activity here.
Skiing and more
Of course, skiing is the main allure for many visitors to Gstaad. With around 200km of slopes to enjoy, as well as a glacier, I was in my element here. However, there is so much more to it than that! Making use of the snow another way, we were invited on a magical horse and carriage ride through the mountains. Surrounded by snow-covered trees and wrapped in blankets, it was truly beautiful – and the closest I’ll ever get to Narnia! Our destination was a charming restaurant that is run by a local family, with traditional red and white gingham tablecloths and glorious mountain views. We enjoyed a lovely homecooked meal here and they were brilliant with my dietary requirements.
What’s more, despite the relatively short snowy season, the time to visit Gstaad is not limited to then and there is plenty to do in the mountains during the summer – from hiking and biking, to polo and paragliding.
As well as the hills though, the town itself was a delight to explore. We were given a tour by the lovely Eileen from Switzerland Tourism and, among many other fascinating facts, she explained that renowned actress Julie Andrews described seeing the village as “love at first sight” and has been visiting regularly since 1968 – she is now even an official honorary citizen! However, she is certainly not the only A-lister to grace Gstaad, with the billionaire's playground hosting Brigitte Bardot, Roger Moore and several of the Royal Family thoughout the years.
A choice of luxury hotels
It goes without saying that after all these amazing activities and the great skiing, you need somewhere just as special to unwind, dine and dream. Luckily, Gstaad is more than well equipped with luxury hotels, each offering something slightly different to the last. My first property to explore was HUUS Gstaad, a young and vibrant property that is super stylish – think waiters adorned in dicky bows and braces. Great for families, it’s a short distance to the slopes and the town, while certain activities are included in your stay.
Next, it was time to visit the iconic Gstaad Place, a hotel that, having opened in 1913, oozes classic luxury (from Venetian chandeliers to a cigar lounge) with an iconic exterior that, quite simply, resembles a fairy tale palace. This classic style is joined by good old-fashioned attentive hospitality – seriously, they had thought of every single thing you might want! The guest rooms are super spacious here, while there is also an amazing spa with both indoor and outdoor areas. When evening falls, the spa provides secret access to the underground GreenGo Nightclub. Like no club I’ve ever seen before, the dancefloor literally floats above the swimming pool – incredible! While at Gstaad Palace, we also enjoyed a wonderfully classic Swiss meal of cheese fondue and bubbles. Bliss.
I also got chance to visit (albeit quickly) the enchanting hilltop Alpina Gstaad, casually approaching the lobby through their impressive underground entrance and ascending the grand staircase. Here, alongside several supercars, there was an ice-cream van turned sculpture parked, that is part of a larger global humanitarian initiative from the owner’s son. It aims to inspire creation and collaboration in communities across the world by creating safe spaces – with Bangladesh and Uganda just some of the countries reached so far. This is just one of the unique and wonderful touches across the hotel. During my short time here, I experienced truly next-level service, while there is also a Six Senses Spa and several gourmet dining options should you choose here for your Gstaad getaway.
My final hotel to see was Park Gstaad which - although perhaps less dazzling than some of others – served some of the best food we enjoyed all trip in their Argentinian restaurant. The meat-eaters raved about their tender steak, while I devoured fresh fish and octopus, with all of us enjoying the exquisite Argentinian wine. Park Gstaad also lays claim to the largest penthouse suite in Switzerland complete with four bedrooms, stunning black granite bathrooms, a kitchen, bar, gym and its own spa, as well as 24-hour butler service! Having said that, what more would you expect from the timeless village of luxury that is Gstaad?
To discover the delights of Gstaad for yourself, call us today.