A weekend spent in the mountains brings a chance to refresh and rejuvenate both body and mind. There’s nothing like waking up amid the snowdrifts of the Alps, their sheer size offering limitless opportunities for outdoor adventures, their astounding beauty promising breathtaking views along the way.
Located in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, the alpine resort of Arosa offers winter sports galore including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and everything in between. Off the slopes, there’s luxurious (and sustainable) hotels, world-class spa facilities, and Michelin star dining. Plus, it’s almost always sunny – it’s location at the bottom of a valley helps to keep the clouds at bay. It might not have the glamour of St. Moritz or the royal approval of Klosters, but that’s exactly what makes Arosa so special – it has none of the pretence and all of the fairy-tale charm.
Read on for our full Citizen Femme Ski guide to Arosa, Switzerland.
THE PACKING EDIT
Where to sleep
Tschuggen Grand Hotel
If you’re looking for uninterrupted views of the mountains, paired with exceptional service and food, stay at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel – it’s the most luxurious in town. The hotel has four restaurants (including La Vetta which boasts a Michelin star), a spa designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, and its very own mountain railway – the Tschuggen Express – which whisks you from the boot room to the ski area in a matter of minutes.
South-facing rooms have the best mountain views thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony. Lying in bed, sipping your morning coffee, and admiring the strikingly beautiful mountains, will make one of the highlights of your trip.
Valsana Hotel and Apartments
Tschuggen may be the Grande Dame of Arosa hotels, but Valsana is her extremely stylish, and environmentally conscious daughter. Rebuilt in 2017, Valsana has sustainability at its core – literally. An ice battery in the basement heats the hotel through geothermal probes and helps the hotel save 30,000 kWh.
The carbon-neutral hotel has removed all PET packaging, and instead, uses glass bottles which are re-filled with glacial water each day. The swimming pool is cleaned through a huge sand filter, and all cleaning products used in the hotel are natural. For those staying more than one night, there’s also an option to skip room-service for a greener stay.
Try cross-country skiing
If you’ve never been cross-country skiing, you should go, immediately. No previous ski experience is needed, and it’s a great way to enjoy the slopes in more relaxed – but no less exhilarating – setting. Maran (access passes £8 per day) is the best cross-country ski area in Arosa and has 25km of trails. Master the technique during a lesson with Geeser Cross-Country Skiing School, and you’ll soon be tackling the downhills and – decidedly harder – uphill’s of the 2 km Nachtloipe Maran trail.
Snowshoeing offers the perfect opportunity to explore Arosa’s picturesque winter trails on foot. All routes are clearly marked with pink signposts and range from short strolls, to the 7.6 km Füchsli Snowshoe trail. For a charming, and relaxing route, follow the 2.7 km Squirrel Trail. The trail starts at Tomeli-Street in Arosa town, leads you through snow-covered forests, and ends in Maran. Snowshoe guides can also be hired on the website.
Snowshoes and walking sticks can be rented through Gisler sports. (approx. £25 per day).
Hit the slopes
Ski and snowboard enthusiasts have access to 225 km of snow-sure pistes thanks to the Urdenbahn cable car which links Arosa & Lenzerheide. The Arosa-Lenzerheide ski area is suitable for both beginner and advanced skiers, and has a great selection of blue, red and black runs.
Relax at the spa
Don’t expect lively après ski in Arosa, things here take on an altogether more relaxed approach after a day on the slopes. Instead, head to the sauna, go for a swim, or treat yourself to a massage.
The most distinguished spa in the area is Tschuggen Bergoase – recognisable thanks to its colourful sails which light up the mountainside at night. The spa is linked to the Tschuggen Grand Hotel by a glass footbridge and has excellent wellness facilities.
Expect muscle-melting massages (including one that’s tailored to tired post-ski legs), saunas (with daily changing herbal infusions) and an outdoor pool with views of the Alps.
Refuel Alpine Style
For hearty Alpine fare on the slopes, head to restaurant Alpenblick. The cosy restaurant – which is only accessible with skis, or on foot during the winter – has stunning views of the mountains from its outdoor terrace. Expect a stodgy menu of cheese fondue and grilled meats, exactly what’s needed to warm you up after a morning on the slopes.
La Vetta is an excellent option if you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion. The restaurant boasts one Michelin star, and it’s well deserved. Head Chef Uwe Seegert has designed a menu which heroes bold favours and local, fresh ingredients. Don’t miss the Veal Sweetbreads or the Celery Stone. Guests can choose between two – five courses. Dishes are small so we recommended going the full five – you won’t regret it.
If you need a break from the meat and cheese, make a beeline for restaurant Twist. The restaurant focuses on light, and seasonal Swiss ingredients and has a great selection of vegan choices. The Rocket Salad & Green Apple dessert is highly recommended – it’s as bizarre as it sounds but it tastes delightful. The restaurant also has a large selection of Swiss wines on offer.
how to get there
The most scenic and eco-friendly way to arrive into Arosa is by – the extremely punctual – train. The journey takes approximately 3 hours, but the views are well worth it.
From Zurich airport take the train to Zurich HB, then change for Chur (sit on the left-hand side for views of Lake Zurich). Once at Chur board the charming Rhaetian Railway to Arosa (approx. 1 hour). The little red train climbs higher and higher (1,000 meters in total) as it passes quietly through snow-covered forests, past clusters of chalet-style houses, and groups of foraging deer.
The mountains are visible throughout the picturesque journey, getting bigger and more dramatic the closer you get to Arosa. Most hotels will offer a free-transfer from Arosa train station, alternatively, you can head straight to the ski-lift (there’s one next door).