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Discover Another Side To St. Moritz

Yes, you can ski on your trip to Pontresina – just six miles from the glitz and glamour of St. Moritz – but as the seasons change, consider a more peaceful hideaway filled with art and eccentricity at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof.

The dramatic landscapes and clear mountain air of the Engadin Valley has long attracted writers and artists to the region, a fact often overlooked as ski holidays take centre stage. A stay at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof – a luxurious, palace-style hotel – re-ignites the eccentricity of the region, with a focus on wellness and indulgence.

The Vibe

The mountainous forest setting and horseshoe-shaped facade of the Grand Hotel Kronenhof makes you wonder whether it may have been a source of inspiration for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest. The building dates back to the 1850s with various expansions and additions along the way including a revamped spa and, most recently, an interior make-over by the French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has also turned his hand to the likes of the Four Seasons Megeve and the St. Regis in Rome.

Rochon has brightened up many of the spaces, most notably the lobby, bar and several of the guest rooms, without losing the sense of old world grandeur that makes the hotel so magical. There are still historic features to be found and a few rooms have been preserved as near to their original state as possible. Perhaps due to the high number of windows and surrounding views, much of the space in the hotel feels light and expansive.

The Rooms

The expansive, south-facing suites have recently been refurbished in a soothing colour palette of cream, brown and gold. They come with a separate living room, fireplace and a large walk-in wardrobe with plenty of space for ski suits or voluminous dresses. They are grand but in a homely, understated kind of way with plenty of natural light from large windows, a balcony and spectacular views of the Roseg Glacier.

The Little Extras 

The Kronenhof’s spa is far from an extra. Here you’ll find a swimming pool with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests, a kids pool, large hot tub and a cluster of therapeutic rooms – or grottos as the hotel calls them – including a flotation pool where you hook your arms and feet over a metal bar to enjoy a feeling of weightlessness. There’s also a steam room, a salt cave, a pathway of three narrow baths alternating from hot to cold, and two authentic Finnish-style saunas (one for women only and one mixed) where you’re required to strip off and relax in silence.

One evening in the mixed sauna, we found ourselves participating in an Aufguss wellness ritual which involved a therapist pouring essential-oil-infused water on to the hot stones and waving a towel around in rhythmic movements to a soundtrack that included Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad.’ It was an interesting and surreal experience, which ended after about 9 or 10 minutes, with the naked (and more experienced) sauna-goers going out into the snow. This, apparently, happens every evening at 6pm. There are also various complimentary yoga and wellness classes throughout the week, and you can book in for a range of spa treatments including body scrubs, massages, and Valmont facials. Outside of the spa, the hotel has its own 18th-century bowling hall which can be used at any time and is operated with a key obtained from the reception desk, and a traditional smoking room with ‘buzzer’ buttons connected to the bar and a pool table.

The Food + Drink

Dining is a big deal at the Kronenhof. There are two main restaurants: the Grand Restaurant and Kronenstübli – we couldn’t decide which one we liked best. The Grand Restaurant is where breakfast and dinner are served in a vast, neo-baroque hall with chandeliers and hand-painted frescoes on the ceiling. It’s a requirement to dress up in the evenings (the guidelines read: ‘elegant wardrobe and suit jackets for men’) and though it might seem like a bit of a fuss, it suits the grand setting, as does the live pianist. When it comes to food, there’s a choice of set menus (vegetarian and non-vegetarian – you can pick-and-mix) with a broad focus on European cuisines and Swiss classics, while breakfast is buffet-style with a wide array of pastries, egg dishes, yoghurts, cereal and fresh fruit.

The Kronenstübli is more intimate, with fewer tables spread out across two chalet-style wood-panelled rooms. Though it perhaps feels more relaxed, the focus here is on fine dining. On arrival we were presented with two glasses of Ruinart champagne as well as a wooden chest containing different kinds of bread and a platter of tiny dishes with whipped butter, olive tapenade and a cheese dip. There are two tasting menus, or you can opt to go à la carte. Each course was as delicious and delicate as the next – our highlights were the caviar egg to start, which comes served in ‘egg-and-soldiers style’ with a white bone spoon, champagne risotto and, for dessert, an ‘interpretation of passion fruit’, comprising a medley of sugared jellies, panna cotta and coulis.

Afternoon tea is served daily in the lobby area while the bar offers an impressive range of cocktails (and snacks) in a strikingly sultry setting – think red velvet armchairs, blue leather stools and dark painted wood.

The To-Do List

St. Moritz is home to a whole clutch of commercial contemporary art galleries – the likes of Hauser & Wirth and Vito Schnabel have outposts here, the latter currently showcasing Ai Weiwei: Zodiac (runs until the 8 April 2023).


Installation view of Ai Weiwei: Zodiac, Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, January 27 – April 8, 2023; Artworks © Ai Weiwei; Photo by Stefan Altenburger; Courtesy the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery

Installation view of Ai Weiwei: Zodiac, Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz, January 27 – April 8, 2023; Artworks © Ai Weiwei; Photo by Stefan Altenburger; Courtesy the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery

A 45-minute train ride will bring you to what has to be one of the world’s most unique and isolated art museums (and artist residencies), in the tiny village of Susch. Carved into the rocks, Muzeum Susch opened in 2019 amid the remnants of a medieval monastery and puts on a stellar programme of art exhibitions and performances with a special focus on largely overlooked women artists from Central Eastern Europe.


Muzeum Susch

Muzeum Susch

A brilliant exhibition of photographs by the late Swiss artist Hannah Villiger is currently on view, until 2 July. With a fantastic little restaurant serving hearty soups, salads and home-baked cakes, it makes a great pit-stop for lunch, too.

In season, the Corviglia ski area boasts 155 km of slopes of varying difficulties including a beautiful, meandering run through the trees down into St. Moritz and a whole host of excellent high-altitude restaurants – the hotel’s concierge marked his dining recommendations on the map for us, including the buzzy White Marmott and Langosteria fish restaurant. The Kronenhof isn’t a ski-in-ski-out hotel but the journey to and from the slopes is made as easy as possible with a complimentary shuttle that drops off and picks up skiers at various points throughout the day, and a special locker room to store equipment including heated perches for ski boots. Plus, they’ll sort out ski passes for you at a special rate. Aside from the art and skiing, enjoy ice skating when the weather allows (the hotel has its own miniature rink) or horse and carriage rides through the valley.

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