“Come up and slow down” is the motto of Gstaad, a little mountain village in the Swiss Alps. With year-round skiing it's a popular holiday destination for royalty and celebrities. To get to Gstaad, you have to take a two-hour drive through other mountain retreats or a picturesque train ride from Bern or Geneva. I recommend the latter
This trip, I was lucky to stay at the luxurious Alpina Gstaad, a family owned, slightly modern resort, filled with amazing art with a wood-panelled spa and large outdoor pool overlooking the breathtaking nature and scenery of their snow filled mountains.
Entertainment in the lobby is low key with a pianist and friendly singer. If you want to hang out here during the day, order and enjoy a freshly made crepe.
What is a busy scene of well-dressed families during the day turns into a party crowd at night. There’s a classical band that plays until 4am. Be sure to dress elegant or break out your sophisticated cocktail dress as there is no such thing as overdressed here. It’s an international crowd in Gstaad and it seems as if almost everyone speaks French, German, Italian, Spanish and, of course, English.
In town, Hotel Olden, owned by Bernie Ecclestone, offers a more casual yet tasty cuisine in their various restaurants and is walking distance to all the upscale shops. If you’re on a tighter budget, my secret tip is to stay at Gstaaderhof, a small hotel in town.
I was impressed how much cuisine variety this little gem of a town has to offer. Whether you want the best Italian, sushi, burgers, or raclette, Gstaad has it all. Rialto in town offers tasty pizzas and pasta concoctions. I was craving something lighter, so I dined at Olden for fish and salad. If you’re looking for something more international, dig into a club sandwich or crevette curry pasta in the lobby of the Palace Hotel. Relax and enjoy the ambience. Meat lovers will enjoy the Grand Hotel Park Restaurant. But honestly, you can’t go wrong with any cuisine within the hotels or in town.
For local fare, a “Brotzeit “ is a tray of beautifully layered cured meats and cheese which makes for a perfect and delicious quick snack. Or browse one of the stands in town for traditional roasted chestnuts with Glühwein.
If you came for the skiing, you came to the right place. Just make sure to dress warm! Whatever you’re looking for, you can find both skiing in Gstaad
For a day trip, take a 10 minute drive to scenic Rougement, an older Francophone village. It only offers two restaurants, but makes up for a lack of facilities with idyllic scenery for a snow-filled winter walk.
If you prefer to keep skiing, try the slopes in Schönried, not more than 15 minutes away from Gstaad or Rougement. The Horn Eggli lift provides the best access for beginners to determined thrill-seeking ski fans.
By Natalie Lefevre
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