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Kulm Hotel St. Moritz: Old world opulence in Switzerland’s winter playground

St. Moritz – The granddaddy of grand Swiss ski resorts.  An immaculate snow white wonderland of pinewood chalets, palatial hotels and manicured pistes.

A small town tucked away in the Engadine Valley, St. Moritz – with its unspoken dress code of cream cashmeres and mink coats – is the very last word in Alpine luxury.  And behind the resort’s revered reputation – the Kulm Hotel.

In a privileged spot up on the hill overlooking Lake St. Moritz sits the historic Kulm Hotel. Below, snow-dusted cobbles wind through a Citizen Femme fantasy town whose entry level, “high street” brands begin at Prada.  And as one might expect, the Kulm’s magnificent grand hotel allure is rather irresistible.

Established in 1856 as St. Moritz’s first luxury hotel, the Kulm’s exquisite interiors still exude classic old school glamour.  Deep red velvets, warm rich lighting, chandeliers and fireplaces aplenty; despite its age, there isn’t a hint of tiredness about this illustrious hotel.  Long carpeted corridors connect splendid ballrooms, cigar lounges and intimate bars in a network of bouncy runways for us impractical shoe lovers.  Along the way, vintage paraphernalia celebrates the stories of the spectacular winter sports that originated on the hotel’s very grounds.  Here, you won’t be needing – or wanting – any chunky snow boots.  Feel safe to bring your suede, your fur, and definitely your Loro Piana.

Rooms and suites at the Kulm are equally charming.  Of the 172, a number have been completely redesigned, while others – in a lavish spin on the chalet experience – still maintain their Swiss pine décor.  For CF travellers who likely won’t be jetting in to St. Moritz with just hand baggage, request a Junior Suite.  You’ll have separate closets and enough satin hangers for your furs, ski gear and classy après outfits with space left over.  It’s effectively a walk-in wardrobe situation, and with snowy mountain views from the balcony in front, the whole thing feels wonderfully Narnia.

Bright marble bathrooms larger than London studios are also a dream; there’s surface space to support every possible makeup scenario, and lighting that’ll reveal – for good or for worse – a multitude of skin surprises that you’d never have spotted at home.  But perhaps the most extravagant amenity – a bath so big it features seats and leather head rests.  Perhaps not one for warming up after a morning of ski, but certainly one for entertaining… bubble party anyone?

Aside from splashing around in your own mini plunge pool, at the Kulm, there’s always an opportunity for bubbles.  We recommend them in the form of an aperitif before the fabulous dinners you’ll enjoy at any one of the hotel’s 7 restaurants.  If you’re short on days and can’t try them all, make sure you do not miss the K by Tim Raue.  The 2 Michelin-starred chef will be in residence until April 1st at the K, serving up highlights from his namesake restaurant in Berlin, one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017.  We recommend the “culinary safari” of 8 delectable, Asian-inspired dishes, including Chef Raue’s famous wasabi langoustine.

The Kulm Country Club too, once the unofficial headquarters of the 1928 and ‘48 Winter Olympics, is also a must.  Recently made over by celeb architect Norman Foster (the brains behind the Gherkin), the now warm, chic setting is perfect for some afternoon glühwein and people watching on the hotel’s natural ice rink.  By night, the high-end upstairs restaurant serves light, modern cuisine using exclusively gorgeous ingredients.

On a final foodie note, don’t let a starry winter’s night go by in St. Moritz without some ballroom dining.  The Kulm’s venerable Grand Restaurant, serving up a varied 6-course dinner each evening, provides an excellent excuse to dress up without having to venture out into minus temps.  You could even get a fabulous blow-dry at the hotel’s in-house salon beforehand.  Wherever you dine, expect to leave Switzerland a few kilos heavier – call it winter fuel!

At the Kulm Spa, you’ll have a number of pools to choose from if you want to burn off the extra cheese calories.  There’s even a gym which offers different complimentary fitness activities like Pilates or TRX.  But you needn’t exert yourself at all… the Kulm Spa is so well-equipped that it even comes complete with a metabolism-stimulating “bio-sauna”.  Sweat it out then sleep it off on the Spa’s 37°c uber-relaxing waterbeds.

The Kulm Spa is quite the destination in itself, almost as spectacular as its mountainscape views.  The impressive wellness scene makes the resort an exceptional choice for a wintry getaway without the ski adrenaline.  With so much going on in the way of specialist steam rooms, relaxation lounges and of course fancy treatments, you’ll want to après all day.  You certainly won’t feel guilty for not being somewhere up there on the Corviglia slopes while you indulge in a caviar extract facial!

When to visit

There’s no time like 2018 – Kulm Hotel has just been awarded Switzerland’s GualtMillau Hotel of the Year, comparable to the Oscars for the hospitality world.

The town starts to come alive just before Christmas, and the chic buzz lasts all the way through to April.  For some real celebrity spotting and a taste of the St. Moritz reputation, visit from 26-28 January for St. Moritz Snow Polo, and again on Sundays through February for more equestrian entertainment on the frozen lake. Include a Friday evening in your trip for some night skiing too.

The players of team Badrutt's Palace Hotel (in black) and the players of team Cartier (in red) fight for the ball during the Etihad Cup match at the 31st Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz in 2015. Andy Mettler

The players of team Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (in black) and the players of team Cartier (in red) fight for the ball during the Etihad Cup match at the 31st Snow Polo World Cup in St. Moritz in 2015. Andy Mettler

How to get there

If you’re not coming in by private jet or helicopter, take the train from Zurich.  You’ll be able to see the Kulm Hotel from St. Moritz station.

Plan ahead with Swiss Travel System. Their Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and destination from £112.  Other options include all-in-one tickets for other modes of transport and longer travel periods.

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