Nestled in the beautiful Swiss Alps, the 100-year-old Gstaad Palace offers understated luxury and breathtaking scenery for its guests, as Kat Hopps discovers
The Gstaad region in the Swiss Alps has a well-known motto: ‘Come up – slow down’; enjoying a horse-drawn carriage ride past snowy slopes, I was happy to oblige. Alpine huts, winding roads and statuesque pine trees dot the mountain setting, between 1,000m and 1,400m high, and perched high above sits the family-run turreted Gstaad Palace, befitting of a place in a modern fairytale.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013, the hotel has long been a discreet yet glamorous setting for its clientele – Louis Armstrong and Elizabeth Taylor included – as it’s only a two-hour train ride away from Geneva. The atmosphere is traditional and comforting – the lobby bar’s tartan chairs and huge fireplace instantly drew me back in time.
Modernisation has not been ignored: the hotel’s current General Manager Andrea Scherz commissioned a refurbishment of the deluxe rooms and tower suites in 2013/14 and the resulting natural palette by interior designer Marina Nickels is tastefully finished in browns and blues.
We visited, as many do, to enjoy the winter slopes, mainly of an intermediate level. The small town sits in a valley of the Berner Oberland, ideal for the 220 km of runs and the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the Wispile and Eggli ski lifts.
For aching muscles, a visit to the Palace’s spa will surely beckon. It’s a tranquil environment: a stone wall crafted with granite from the nearby Blausee region leads you to a conical fireplace and plush sofas. There is a hammam, two saunas and two swimming pools – a podium above one descends at night to become a dancefloor for the hotel’s legendary nightclub GreenGo.
The four restaurants within the hotel range from casual to formal dress. A typically Swiss menu and setting can be savoured at La Fromagerie, where we dined on a sumptuous fondue laced with champagne and black truffle, while Gildo’s Ristorante serves authentic Italian cuisine, with kitchen staff who hail predominantly from Venice. Gluttony comes naturally so be warned: you’ll need to work off any excesses on the slopes the next morning.
Gstaad Palace; +41 (0)33 748 50 00; palace.ch