The grandiose Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has to be the Grande Dame of the Swiss mountains. With pride of place by the lake, the interior is as impressive as the exterior. Expensive cars, including the hotel’s Rolls Royce, adorn the forecourt.
Within, the stately Grand Hall has dark wood panelling and furniture reminiscent of the 50s. The vast dining room even has a harpist playing during breakfast, and the hotel retains an element of an era gone by. It is indeed the most polished of hotels. Staff are of the “old school,” immaculately uniformed and truly professional.
The bedrooms are large, and most have balconies overlooking the lake. The bathrooms are luxurious, and the hot water bottles are a charming touch. The clientele is chic and glamourous, with many flying in by private jet. By no means are they all there to ski. Many come for polo, horse-racing on ice, parties, good food, shopping, or simply to walk in the mountains. An added draw is the famous Kings Club, the nightclub within the Palace which, in the main, is packed with young, beautiful Italians.
The Spa is bliss, with the most wondrous swimming pool, a magical, steaming outdoor jacuzzi and several steam rooms and saunas.
The hotel has six restaurants, but my favourites are housed in the beautiful, ancient Chesa Veglia building opposite. There is a dignified Grill Room with a pianist, a buzzing Pizzeria, and mountain fare on the lower floor. All are excellent.
Up on the slopes, Mathis Restaurant is easy to reach by train or on skis. Resembling a space station from afar, it has enormous glass windows providing a panoramic view from inside. The setting and the service are demure and efficient….but bring on the huge tins of caviar, stunning displays of fresh fish, the very best smoked salmon and the intoxicating aroma of truffles escaping from the mountain.
The latter are lavishly served on almost everything, from the flakiest pizza to tagliolini to melting cheese. Caviar is generously dolloped on blinis with glorious smoked salmon. Home comfort dishes include Bollito Misto with loads of bone marrow, game with polenta, and a fabulous seared tuna with wasabi mash. All of this served with great aplomb.
Another favourite haunt on the mountain is the breathtaking Il Paradiso. The Members’ Club terrace is sumptuous, with the most glorious views, wooden decking, checked tablecloths and lots of sheepskin. Most dishes here are also smothered in truffles; however, there is a lot of cheese, and the fondue is superb. Veal sausages, pasta and steaks are simpler but very high quality.
A frightfully smart establishment with a clubby atmosphere, frequented by frightfully smart regulars and residents of St Moritz. What a glorious weekend!