Nestled majestically into the mountainside above the lake of the same name, St. Moritz possesses a character that goes far beyond its posh reputation. Considered the birthplace of winter tourism, the Swiss Alpen resort is home to yes, a smattering of pricy shops selling diamonds and fur, but also a vibrant community and sprawling ski mountain of vast, open trails.
A true Mecca for international visitors, the local population itself embodies an impressive mix of cultures. Although Swiss German is the most frequently spoken language, it’s not unusual to overhear French, Italian or Romansh. Having hosted two Winter Olympics (in 1928 and 1948), in addition to attracting alpine skiers from all over the world, St. Moritz is also a popular stomping ground for Nordic skiing, bob sledding and even ice polo, played on the lake’s frozen surface.
WHERE TO STAY
Naturally, if you’ve made the trek (three hours from Zurich) to St. Moritz and have spent years ogling over its mystique, you want to stay at the area’s unmistakable landmark: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. Dating back to 1896, the Palace’s charm literally sweeps guests off of their feet before they even arrive with a train station pickup in the hotel Bentley. Pair this with the fact that Badrutt’s spa features some of the most progressive oxygen facials and Ayurvedic treatments known to the health industry—and is actually situated in a rock cave; or that the hotel is run on an innovative, environmentally astute heating system using water from the lake; or even its assortment of in-house five-star dining, you cannot help but feel like royalty.
For a less extravagant lodging experience but one offering no dearth of charm, Hotel Salastrains is St. Moritz’s hidden gem. Located on the mountain right next to the Corviglia World Cup course, the large, classically alpen lodge and its restaurant present easy access to the races as well as to the whole mountain.
Accessed only by four-wheel drive vehicles or via a five-minute ride on the funicular, there is no spa or pool, and the rooms are small and quaint. But live music keeps the après party on its feet every evening, the restaurant serves up lusciously homemade breakfasts and dinners, and there is really no better place to stay if hitting the slopes is your number one priority.