The five star Giardino was the first luxury spa hotel we stayed at in St Moritz, although it’s located slightly outside, a stone throw away in Champfèr, a quaint and enchanting Swiss village. After spending three hours travelling on the scenic train journey from Zurich into Narnia, the fairy tale continued with our arrival at the picturesque hotel, which, from the outside looked like a gingerbread house with a snow-laden fir tree at the entrance and the breathtaking views of the surrounding Engadine Mountains in the background. It doesn’t get more Alpine than this. The Giardino was crowned Europe’s most beautiful mountain hotel 2015 in GEO Saison magazine (a title they have been awarded for the ninth consecutive year).
Inside, all is cozy and warm. A place where you want to sit by the fire with a mug of Swiss hot chocolate and your slippers on. The interior is decorated with a mixture of modern-design furniture made of traditional Engadine materials and colorful fabrics, cushions and fluffy stools. And then there are little quirky touches of ‘wow,’ like the spectacular floral chandelier, framed by a simple white corridor, bringing to mind a huge bouquet of wild flowers cascading down a snowy mountain.
Our room is a luxurious cocoon with a stand alone bath. It’s kind of romantic which is great if you are there with your partner but not so great when you are sharing with your friend and photographer. We have a beautiful garden view which at night time lights up and glimmers in pink and yellow, reminding me on a Battenburg cake.
There are 78 rooms and suites in total, which are spread over seven traditional buildings. They are all connected by an underground passage, causing havoc if you don’t remember where you came from, it’s quite a maize and we both get lost every time trying to find our way back and get in the right lift!
At the Dipiù Spa where the manager of the hotel has developed their own line skin care products (“di più” comes from Italian and can be roughly translated as “a little more”), the focus is on Ayurveda and creating an holistic retreat experience. Therefore, they do Ayurvedic treatments incredibly well. The Giardino hotels in Ascona, St. Moritz and Zurich are the first five-star resorts in Switzerland to offer authentic Ayurveda treatments and cures, with the goal of helping guests to achieve health and peace by means of a holistic approach. I spent an hour in complete bliss during my Shirodhara massage, an ancient Ayurvedic treatment that pours warm medicated oil on the third eye point of the forehead to unblock any blockages in the energy passages around the face and head. This allows the energy to flow properly and helps relieve headaches, migraine, insomnia and stress. I first tried this treatment during my wellness journey in the Maldives last year and it was something special.
Post treatment it was time to enjoy the rest of the 2,000-square-metred spa including an indoor pool, four different saunas, jacuzzi, steam rooms and a very zen relaxation room. There’s also a gym and they offer regular yoga classes, and in the summer yoga retreats.
The biggest highlight of the Giardino was the food. I can’t speak highly enough of our evening meals, the first night at the Hide & Seek restaurant and the second at the Michelin starred Ecco, which was simply outstanding, even for two vegetarians. The quinoa vegetarian burger, chosen from their ipad menu at the less formal restaurant, Hide & Seek was absolutely delicious. This is also where they serve an abundant breakfast including breads, fresh fruits, natural honey and local cheeses as well as cooked a la carte options and a variety of fresh juices and prosecco if we wanted.
The extraordinary talented chef Rolf Fliegauf has earned the Ecco restaurant two Michelin stars. The windowless ornate room of the gourmet restaurant was formerly a chapel and prayer room of a girls boarding school. It was a memorable 8 course affair that tantalized our taste buds with every creative dish, along with excellent service and ambience.
As you can see from the photos, the presentation was a work of art and an exciting surprise. We also were served with almost black malt bread, accompanied with a spread of buttermilk and smoked butter. Next to the bread was a wooden box of cress with a mini scissor, a funny and creative way to present food. And the bread tasted just amazing!
One of our favourite dishes was made to look like a chocolate bar wrapped in edible silver leaf. It was an unforgettable evening and the chef even greeted us on our exit which was a nice touch on our last evening.
The Giardino has all the ingredients for a perfect and idyllic mountain retreat escape. Thank you to all the staff who took exceptional care of us and to the St Moritz tourist board who provided us with complimentary ski passes and a walking tour of St Moritz.
The photos of the food are credited to photographer Hanna Sillitoe.