It is rare to stumble upon a place where the greatest attention to the smallest detail isn’t compromised by a stiffness keeping you on your toes. A place that is uncompromisingly grand, but makes you feel completely at home, just better. Yet, let me assure you – this place does exist.
Standing proudly on Gstaad’s luxurious ‘Promenade’ is a place where cosy fires and eclectic designs meet the ultimate glitz and glamour mountain experience. Welcome to “Le Grand Bellevue”.
With over a century of experience in high-end hospitality, this charming palace with its 48 rooms, 9 unique suites and 3’000 square meters of wellness areas, is no newcomer to the sky-high standards of Gstaad’s bourgeois scenes. Entirely family-run and designed, it was refurbished in 2013 and has since become the hotspot for a new generation of luxury travellers and trendy locals who seek grandeur without making concessions on a laid-back neighbourhood vibe. All in all, ‘Le Grand Bellevue’ is sure to make you feel happy, pampered and completely spoiled from start to finish.
That doesn’t mean the grand dame’s past is blurred. You can still appreciate the Murano glass chandelier highlighting the central stairwell, two grand Steinway pianos nudged in the bar and lounge, and the hotel’s façade coloured a classic buttercup yellow.
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Guests are welcomed to the hotel by a stylish mix of plush cushions and vast bookshelves, surrounded by multiple curiosities including a life-sized toy camel leading to the bar and restaurant. A few steps above the vibrant colours and lively hustle of the lobby area, are the rooms. Graced with breathtaking views of mountains and Gstaad village, these outside scenes are trumped only by the inviting softness of the room’s large bed – from which you can dreamily look outside and slowly forget about time passing by. Categories range from Chic and Deluxe Chic to Suites including the Panorama Suite and the pièce de résistance, Le Grand Bellevue, an 1800 square feet loft, accommodating up to 8 people. Pillow menus, a rainforest shower, Bamford amenities, and large balconies for early-morning coffees or romantic nightcaps.
All 57 rooms put emphasis on restrained, quiet luxury — a stark contrast to the fun public spaces. Each unit featuring pine-wood floors, grey linen duvets, brown leather desks, bespoke lamps and a Bose sound system.
When it comes to wining and dining, ‘Le Grand Bellevue’ takes you straight to culinary heaven. The star of this show undoubtedly was Michelin-star Leonard’s. It is here that guests can enjoy wonderfully indulgent and unexpected fine-dining fusions that will delight even the toughest of food critics. Entirely gluten and lactose-free, I went on a six-course gourmet journey taking me from the most exquisite Foie Gras with Dashi, Coconut and Foie Gras Sorbet (mindblowing), scallops nestled in tender beetroots, the softest veal and its truffle sauce to sweeter temptations of pineapples, succulent sorbets and raspberry treats. Even the breads and dips (pumpkin spread and herb sorbet) were so savoury that they are served only with the second course: experience has shown that otherwise, guests can’t help but fill up on them too quickly. Set in the backdrop of glamorous Gatsby-esque designs and accompanied by the kind of excellent yet effortless service that has largely become extinct, this is most definitely a highlight that no one in Gstaad should miss. With a website quoting Julia Childs, “People who love to eat are the always the best people”, we couldn’t agree more.
For those who instead seek to enjoy more rustic mountain charms within the comfortable confines of the hotel, there is ‘Le Petit Chalet’. Sat in the hotel’s gardens, it is a charming chalet with just enough space for 18 guests to experience intimate degustations of Swiss specialities including raclette and various types of fondue. Top tip: Try the gluten and lactose-free ‘Fondue Chinoise’. For lighter afternoon snacks, there is a small sushi bar near the spa area. Breakfast itself is served at LEONARD’s, and its selection of eggs, fluffy pancakes and other brunch delicacies seemed to attract not only the hotel guests. (Gluten free bread and soya milk are readily available.)
Exquisite dining does not come without exquisite wining. With one of Gstaad’s most extensive wine cellars (of about 10,000 bottles) and a glamorous art déco bar, guests can indulge in exclusive private tastings, and some well-curated dinner wine pairings and crafty cocktails. For later evenings, head down to the hotel’s chic Cigar Lounge Bouquet, which has become a local nightlife favourite over recent years, whilst during long afternoons they can enjoy live piano music and signature hot chocolates in the hotel’s lounge.
Whether you want to burn all those calories from last night’s fondue, soothe sore muscles after a long day of skiing, or spend a lazy day getting lost in steamy, delicate aromas, ‘Le Grand Spa’ is just the place. With an impressive range of gym, yoga studios, pool and a unique thermal oasis of 17 wellness zones and 7 saunas/hammams (including, for example, salt inhalation grotto, a hay sauna and an infrared sauna), across 3,000 square metres, it is enough to make any other mountain spa owner blush. My personal favourite was the small outdoor jacuzzi, from which I could watch the steam rise and snowfall onto the surrounding chalets. There are also a number of treatments and massages on offer, inspired by both alpine and international wellness rituals. I tried out the herbal aromatherapy massage, which I would definitely recommend to anyone in need of some gentle stress-release.
For those busy bees who, like me, want to try out every activity in addition to the spa-ing, skiing or hiking, ‘Le Grand Bellevue’ has enough on offer to stay occupied for weeks. Directly beneath the lobby, is an 18-seat cinema where you can book private viewings of your latest Netflix-binge and a vast library of DVD’s. Alternatively, there is no shortage of activities from romantic horse carriage rides in the snow to explore the surrounding region, cooking or cocktail masterclasses, yoga sessions on pristine mountain tops and wild lake swimming. Take a look at their calendar of activities for all seasons here.