Riding the Glacier Express? Stay in Switzerland’s Best Hotels En Route

All aboard Switzerland’s most iconic train for an immersive journey that takes you between some of the country’s finest crash pads. Planning a trip? We’ve picked out the best hotels in Zurich, Geneva, Zermatt and St Moritz to add to your itinerary.

In partnership withSwitzerland Tourism

You needn't be a train buff to know that few rail journeys are as iconic as the Glacier Express - a majestic route between St Moritz and Zermatt that immerses those lucky enough to hop aboard in all of Switzerland's frost-tipped glory. Over the course of the journey, guests cross over 291 bridges and whip through 91 tunnels, soaking up world-class scenery - the Rhône Glacier, the vertiginous Oberalp Pass and the curvaceous Landwasser Viaduct - as they go.

It's only right that such a momentous journey should be sandwiched by stays at no-less lavish hotels. We suggest making a real trip of it by acclimatising for a couple of nights at a Design Hotel in either Zurich or Geneva before heading up into the mountains and bedding down in St Moritz or Zermatt - their Snow Sports Hotels are second to none. Tempted by the idea but unsure where to begin? We've picked out a handful of independent boltholes to bookend the ride of a lifetime. See you on the train platform.

Zurich

Powered by clean energy and lassoed by cycling paths, Zurich shows that the finer things in life needn't come at the expense of green credentials. One day in the city? No problem. Grab oven-fresh pastries from John Baker, spot Pavillon Le Corbusier in the Seefeld quarter and book dinner at vegetarian pioneers, Hiltl. Later, explore the alternative District Five as the city's mountainous backdrop fades to indigo. Sleep in style by checking into one of the following design hotels, each architectural accomplishments in form and function.

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Marktgasse Hotel

With 39 rooms decked in designer furnishings, a less-is-more lobby made for remote working and Cabaret Voltaire - the birthplace of dadaism - on its doorstep, this hotel is a sanctuary for aesthetes with a penchant for modernist design.

Address

Marktgasse 17 8001

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Widder Hotel

Behind the timber facade of these 15th-century townhouses, an architectural prism of glass and chrome lays the foundations for 49 individually designed rooms dotted with art by the likes of legends such as Andy Warhol and Max Bill.

Address

Rennweg 7 8001 Zurich

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25hours Hotel Zurich Langstrasse

What could be better than an in-house “atelier” displaying local artwork, free bike hire and achingly chic retro paraphernalia? How about a steamy rooftop sauna with views that stretch right out over Zurich’s artful tangle of train networks?

Address

Langstrasse 150 8004 Zurich

Geneva

This mountain-cradled luxury haven whispers its coolness. Before delving into Carouge - Geneva's "Greenwich Village" - start the day with breakfast at Maison des Arts du Grütli; its café is at the vanguard of sustainable agriculture. Between lunch at Chez Grégoire and dinner on the waterside at La Belotte, you'll have enough time for an impromptu walking tour, taking in Geneva's watchmaking heritage; this city has been composing delicate timepieces since the 16th century. For a night to remember, bed down at one of Geneva's fêted design hotels.

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Hotel Bristol

Picture a grand-dame hotel and reframe it with sculptural furniture and arty flourishes; there you have the Hotel Bristol. This illustrious townhouse comes with a Gault-Millau restaurant and a ladies-only floor. It’s modern-traditional, in the best way.

Address

Rue du Mont-Blanc 10 1201 Geneva

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Les Armures Hotel

While its restaurant is a riot of rusticity – dressed in gingham tablecloths and stacked with wooden skis – elsewhere it’s all muted greys, glowy back-lighting and modish glass lanterns in this intimate, 17th-century building in Geneva’s honey-hued Old Town.

Address

Rue Otto Barban 1204 Geneva

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Beau-Rivage Genève

From the gilded bedside tables to the panoramic lakeside views framed by crunchy satin drapes, it’s easy to see why some of history’s most prolific style icons (Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, to name two) fell for this classic hotel’s charms.

Address

Quai du Mont-Blanc 1201 Geneva

Zermatt

Zermatt's reputation ricochets around the Alps for a reason. Its slick-as-whip lift system zips from 2,923m to 3,821m in nine minutes; it's home to more than 360km of pistes of all difficulties; and, whether it's snowing or not, these slopes are the kind that don't go a single day without a thick blast of fresh powder. Zermatt is a destination of extremes.

Peppered among the slopes are a flurry of high-performance Snow Sports Hotels where you can toast boot-beleaguered toes by the fire after a tough day on the mountain. With your all-in-one travel ticket in hand, navigating the town's network of electric buses is a breeze. Take aprés on the terrace at Cervo, followed by dinner at the deceptively quaint but fiercely gourmet Findlerhof before calling it quits and bedding down in your ski-in, ski-out, Alpine retreat.

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Mont Cervin Palace

This self-styled “palace” is vast but oh-so intimate. Between the hotel’s natural-toned rooms, its architecturally magnificent spa and nine restaurants which cater to every vibe and palate, choosing exactly how to wind down will be your greatest challenge.

Address

Bahnhofstrasse 31 3920 Zermatt

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Riffelalp Resort 2222m

Never been snowshoeing? Heli-skiing? Allow Riffelalp’s in-house mountain guide to show you. This is a hotel for the actively curious. Take gulps of pine-scented air while bathing at its outdoor pool (Europe’s highest) with the pointy Matterhorn loitering above.

Address

3920 Zermatt

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Riffelhaus 1853

Riffelhaus 1853’s heritage is felt through its restaurant – famous for its rösti – the spa (inspired by the Matterhorn’s African geology) and its inviting, timber-clad rooms. Plus, the hotel’s proximity to the slopes makes it a must-stay for gregarious skiers.

Address

Riffelberg 2500m 3920 Zermatt

St Moritz

Few places have hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice, but St Moritz is one of them. Naturally, these pistes, which spill out from villages and hamlets in the Engadin valley, are not only first-rate but officially Freeski World Cup quality. Yet St Moritz is far more than a ski destination. Looking for a fresh jolt of adrenaline? Join the skaters, curlers and jockeys who vie for attention on the frozen lake at the resort's heart.

St Moritz strikes the piste-play balance perfectly. As the birthplace of winter Alpine tourism, the town is home to first-rate Snow Sports Hotels. Not only are these mansions equipped with all of the facilities required to help boost your skills on the piste, but guests can also pick up a daily lift pass for a discounted price. Safe to say, these cosy-chic shelters are also time-honoured masters when it comes to helping tired snow bunnies decompress in an evening.

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Randolins

Purity splices through this whitewashed, chalet-meets-urban-spa hotel which comprises five homely guesthouses. An infrared cabin, Finnish sauna and misty outdoor whirlpool make up just some of Randolins’ wellness offerings.

Address

Via Curtins 2 7500 St Moritz

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Nira Alpina

With the Corvatsch cable car opposite, pistes on its doorstep and access to the Olympia Bob Run, Nira Alpina’s sports offering is inimitable. A meal at Stars Restaurant, where locally sourced food is served with immersive vistas, will be one to remember.

Address

Via Dal Corvatsch 76 7513 Silvaplana

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Hotel Chesa Rosatsch

This cushty spot in unassuming Celerina is a must-visit for laid-back skiers who treat every meal with reverence. Slung with cable lighting and traditional furniture, the restaurant here is both a site of culinary experimentation and a hive of local activity.

Address

Via San Gian 7 7505 Celernia/Schlarigna

The Lowdown

For more on the Glacier Express, visit glacierexpress.ch. Discover Switzerland's Snow Sports, Design and Lifestyle Hotels, as well as Swiss Deluxe Hotels.

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The Glacier Express: All Aboard Switzerland's Most Iconic Train