Glamorous and old-school, St Moritz, located in the southern Alps, is a Swiss town with an appreciation for the finer things. Polo, horse racing, ice cricket, and of course, excellent skiing particularly off-piste… It’s the original winter playground of royalty and celebrities, and the host of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics.
- St Moritz is where hotelier Johannes Badrutt started Alpine winter tourism in 1864.
- He told his well-heeled summer guests that he’d refund them if they didn’t like his hotel as much in winter as they did in summer.
- The thirst for more and more eccentric winter activities led to the building of the first Cresta Run in 1884, which became something of the town’s spiritual core for some bonhomie and lighthearted competitiveness.
- By the turn of the 20th century, Johannes’s son Casper opened the Badrutt’s Palace and the town has attracted a steady stream of rosy-cheeked skiers and fur-clad non-skiers ever since.
St Moritz in history
Alfred Hitchcock visited often but never skied. As did Coco Chanel, Billy Fiske, Brigitte Bardot’s third husband Gunter Sachs and his art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, who became something of a legend when he brought artists like Warhol and Basquiat to St Moritz and opened the town’s first gallery in 1963. He was also an avid Cresta rider and opened the famous Dracula Club in 1971, which still remains a St Moritz nightlife legend.
Clearly, St Moritz is a town with a soul. It’s sporty, it’s humorous and it’s elegant, the kind of place you go to escape real life and cruise through winter with fondue, Kummel liqueur and spirited ideas.
The landscape today
At 2000m above sea level, St Moritz is still prime real estate for tours, winter sports and hiking expeditions…like exploring the 80 km Engadine Valley that follows the Inn River or going up the Diavolezza Mountain, home to the longest downhill ski route in Switzerland, but alongside the snowy slopes are galleries, old-world grand dames and robust Alpine restaurants for the less daredevil visitors.
The ski area
St Moritz has a rather complex geography. It’s divided into 3 villages near or around its lake, and offers a ski area of 350km of pistes across four sectors- Corviglia, Corvatsch, Diavolezza and Zuoz.
Corviglia, and its highest point Piz Nair, is the main sector and all three villages have lifts into the 2,486m core. Corvatsch, Diavolezza, Zuoz and 6 other small ski areas are accessible by bus or train.
In the vernacular…
- Corviglia is an intermediate playground with plenty of long runs. Inevitably, its convenience attracts the most traffic and is best avoided on weekends.
- North-facing Corvatsch is a ski bus away from the villages of Bad and Dorf. It has the best snow conditions in the region, perfect for freeriding.
- Diavolezza and Lagalb are two linked mountains in the Bernina Valley, going as high as 3,066m. Two tricky descents make this terrain one best tackled with a local guide.
- Zuoz, in the Engadine Valley, is the quietest of the sectors, perfect for beginners and children.
Summer in St Moritz? It’s hard to believe but the Swiss ski resort just gets better when the mercury heats up. There is:
- Rowing on Lake St Moritz with the Maloja Wind making a wonderful experience a certainty.
- Picnicking at the site of the 1948 Olympic Ski Jump. It’s a small hike but the privacy and quaint little lakes make it worth it.
- Windsurfing and kitesurfing, again courtesy of Lake St Moritz and the Maloja Wind.
- Hiking, to the summit of the Corvatsch Mountain for a taste of the natural beauty of Glacier Grotto, the Alpine lake and its pasture views.
- There is also hiking up the Piz Nair and the Engadine Valley, on the frontier of Italy
The Segantini Museum
With its superb display of paintings by Giovanni Segantini and some of Europe’s most famous 19th-century artists.
The more contemporary art venues
Like Muzeum Susch, Stalla Madulain, Swiss artist Not Vital’s castle-turned-gallery and the art-filled Hotel Castell.
While you are in St Moritz, some things you should not miss…
Breakfast at Hanselmann
A classic since 1894, and a great experience of Swiss cuisine with a full breakfast menu and a range of real Swiss chocolates and coffee that you can enjoy to views of Lake St Moritz and the surrounding mountains.
A hot drink at Alpina Hütte
There is mulled wine, skiwasser, which is a hot water and raspberry syrup drink with some lemon in it and and bull shots, a 17-Swiss Franc concoction of vodka and consommé.
Fondue by a winter fire
The setting to enjoy this Swiss dish is a cozy village restaurant with a rustic atmosphere, something you’ll find at the Chesa Veglia, a converted farmhouse in the center of town, and run by the Badrutt’s Palace.
The King’s Social House
The hotel opened by Casper Badrutt also has another claim to fame: The oldest club in Switzerland, where cocktails are served in the basement lounge until the wee hours of the night. The hotel is also home to an antique smoking lounge with velvet banquettes and armchairs, and cigars in sterling silver cases.
Once a sporting association and now a private club, Dracula founded by Gunter Sachs and Bruno Bischofberger in 1974 remains the place to be for a night cap served in a lofty wooden lodge. Access is reserved for club members and their acquaintances, but guests of the Kulm hotel and Badrutt’s Palace can make reservations through the concierge.
The local heros of St Moritz
There is the casual cafe that sells six varieties of apple juice, Pur Alps. At the fourth-generation butchers Hatecke, the lamb and venison sausages can’t be beat. For chocolates, Läderach has a dizzying array of truffles, barks and holiday treats that await.
For alpine souvenirs
As a global destination, St Moritz has its share of designer boutiques on Via Serlas like Bulgari, Gucci, Prada and the likes, but we wouldn’t make a stop there. We would rather look into the town’s niche boutiques that make shopping in St. Moritz special.
Like Faoro, with its line of Italian-made sweaters and a few doors down, Ebneter Biel with its handmade tablecloths and napkins while Lamm, along the same street, has been devoted to all things cashmere since 1935.
The nearest airport is Zürich, 125 miles from St Moritz. The train transfer from Zürich takes four hours but it is one of the most scenic you can imagine with soaring bridges, gorges and glaciers.
If you take the Bernina Express from Tirano, Italy that goes all the way to St. Moritz, you are guaranteed one of the most breathtaking train rides in the whole of Europe via the Brusio Circular Viaduct.
Glacier Express connecting St. Moritz to Zermatt is another option, passing through the the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Rhaetian Railway.
St Moritz with Grand Luxury
Badrutt’s Palace, the St Moritz hideout where celebrities like Alfred Hitchcock, Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin once stayed is part of our Collection. Our club members benefits from:
- Room upgrade, subject to availability
- Daily breakfast for 2
- 100 USD food and beverage credit
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability