Badrutt's Palace, St Moritz, Switzerland
20 February, 2019
Opened in 1896 by the Badrutt family and graced by likes of Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock, you can't help but wish the walls could talk here. From the moment you step off the train and are greeted by a driver in immaculate woollen uniform before being ushered into a Rolls-Royce, it's clear that Badrutt's is a cut above the rest.
Located right in the heart of the town with the shops and restaurants just a stone's throw away and the most magnificent views of the lake below, you have the best of both worlds on your doorstep. A palatial lobby filled with much of the original furniture and expansive windows looking out onto the Engadin mountains is a hive of activity; guests catching a late lunch, children warming their cockles with a hot chocolate while eyeing-up the well-stocked cake trolley, couples requesting their perfect martini to accompany a game of cards. It's this sort of service that the hotel caters to so well - anything is possible, at any time, and no one will blink an eye.
The rooms and collection of suites, many of which have private balconies, either look out to the lake or the village. The beds are so deliciously comfortable with their luxurious duvets and beckoningly plump pillows that two alarms were needed. Marble bathrooms with stand-alone showers and generous tubs are extremely well-received after a long day skiing.
What's for breakfast?
Breakfast is served in under chandeliers in the vast "Le Restaurant", complete with a live harpist to serenade you. There is every morning dish you can think of (and then some) - we must have counted about 25 types of bread piled alongside more health-conscious additions and an array of fresh juices.
How about lunch and dinner?
The hotel has a whopping nine restaurants under its belt. Chesa Veglia, located in a converted farmhouse minutes from the hotel, has three restaurants, two bars and a private club under its roof - go for excellent pizza which tastes even better for being eaten in rustic wood and gingham surrounds. Located in the basement of the hotel, King's Social House has British chef extraordinaire Jason Atherton at helm. This restaurant, bar and nightclub feels more modern than the old-school glamour of upstairs; interiors are slick, a DJ spins tunes in the corner and the menu is designed to share. We surfed and turfed scallops to fillet steak before finishing with flaming baked Alaska.
Is there a bar?
Poke your head into Renaissance Bar, also known among regular guests as "Mario's" in celebration of the former chef's name, a haunt that has discerning folk from all over St Moritz flocking through the doors for its renowned bellinis whizzed up with fresh white peaches. The patterned rugs and roaring fire make for an inviting room in which the night will fly away as you make your way through the alphabetical "Cocktail Library" that spans pages.
The staff at Badrutt's make everything appear seamless. For anyone that has skied you'll know the faff and time involved in gathering your kit and getting out of the door - and that's without children int tow. But staff here are on hand to zip and click you in, meanwhile your equipment is already in a car that will take you to the lift. This is particularly spoiling at the end of the day when you can hardly feel your legs - and then discover the brownie tin in the car. For those who prefer sticking to flat land, the hotel's spa and pools have one of the most magnificent backdrops of the snowy peaks and dusted trees on the mountains behind. The bubbling heated outdoor pool followed by the salt steam and ice room are a godsend for achy limbs (and heads).
Things you should know
Logistically, St Moritz isn't the easiest location for a weekend bolt as it's nearly three hours by car from the airport (though there is a small airport if you're going private). But this is also what makes the resort special, and the train from Zurich is an easy transfer with gorgeous views providing en route entertainment. The dining carriage which is open Friday to Sunday feels gloriously old fashioned with its wood-panelled walls, white tablecloths and immaculate service.
Within a short walk you can find…
The Hauser & Wirth gallery is steps away and often has great exhibitions on. El Paradiso is a lovely mountainside lunch spot that can be accessed on foot, with a sheepskin-clad deck that is perfect for basking on warmer days.