When you get picked up in a vintage Rolls Royce Phantom and a man in uniform you know you are in for a good time. Arriving in style at the Badrutt’s Palace it’s no cliche to say that I already felt like Royalty even before stepping into the enchanted Palace. Warm smiles and courteous staff welcome us with open arms and chaperone us inside for our first glimpse of the huge lobby ‘Le Grand Hall’, the legendary living room and catwalk of St. Moritz. This hotel had me at hello.
First on the itinerary after checking into our luxurious suite, con personal butler to take care of our every need (and answer any imaginable question) was Afternoon Tea. We waited slightly impatiently for our freshly oven baked, warm scones to be made whilst we savoured each bite of the incredibly delicious sandwiches and miniature delights – lemon meringue pie, chocolate brownie, macaroons decorated with a swiss chocolate, Crème brûlée and raspberry and lemon sorbets topped with star fruit. I am not normally a sweet tooth person, but I confess I was converted very quickly and it was hard to choose which one was my favourite as I absolutely loved each of them!
Photo credit Hanna Sillitoe
Photo credit Hanna Sillitoe
Executive pastry chef Stefan Gerber has been serving Afternoon Tea at the Badrutt’s Palace for over seven years. It’s no surprise then that he is given completely free reign to transform sugar and cream into tiny, magnificent works of art. Served on three tiered silver platters, as much work has gone into the layout of each tier as has gone into the cakes and sandwiches themselves. We saved the scones served with clotted cream, strawberry and apricot jam for later!
Next on the agenda was an afternoon in the Palace Wellness. To access the spa one has to go by lift into the dimly lit cavern then through a corridor, hewn from the rocks on which the hotel was built. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the beautiful oval shaped infinity pool glistens with small ripples forming from the water fall, that cascades out of the rock formations. Surrounded by shimmering floor to ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the white Engadin mountain scenery.
I spend some time using the different steam rooms (aroma and salt), the sauna, massage shower, mist and ice room for the full spa experience before jumping into the pool. At the touch of a button I am transported from indoor to outdoor pool as the screen lifts and the air temperature drops. The contrast of the chilled air, sun on my face and my body immersed in the warm water feels sensational.
That evening before dinner, I had an 80 minute Regeneration Vernix facial in one of their spa suites. It’s by far the best facial I ever had and the results are more or less immediate, making my skin look hydrated and plumper. The treatment is especially designed for sensitive, deficient and stressed skin using a recreated vernix formula that repairs skin damage, accelerates epidermal reconstruction and regeneration.
The spa also offers 7 day wellness programs, private and group yoga, meditation and personal training sessions.
I finish my treatment just in time to watch the magical sunset from the balcony in the room, overlooking Lake St Moritz, which in January is still frozen as it disappears behind an epic panorama of mountains.
The view is just the icing on the cake in our exquisite suite, there’s a separate lounge, bedroom, huge dressing room and enormous bathroom.
There’s always a little surprise gift waiting in the room such as (another) box of chocolates, bottle of wine and before bed time a hot water bottle, to keep us extra warm.
Extraordinary, palatial Swiss hospitality is what the staff at the Badrutt’s do best and pride themselves on, and all without an air of pretentiousness. Many employees have been working at Badrutt’s Palace for over 20 years and recognize their regular guests by their names and 70% guests are returning ones.
There are eight restaurants to choose from and for our evening dinner we ate at “Le Restaurant”, serving French and international cuisine. The show of the restaurant is the live cooking at the table. As two vegetarians were dining we were treated to a creamy truffle and asparagus risotto, yes it tasted as good as it looks!
We ate breakfast there the next morning as the residence harp player presided over the dining room. It’s a lovely accompaniment to our morning coffee and newspapers.
After breakfast it was time for my private ski lesson organised by the concierge, kitted out in the highest quality sparkling boots and ski’s from their own cozy shop. Being only my second time on the slopes I was eager to learn from the best. As a beginner this meant heading straight to the kiddies area for a few rounds. The most difficult part is learning the new trick of how to get on the rope that pulls you up the slopes!
Back in the UK, I had gently prepared myself by having a couple of lessons on the dry slopes at Chel-Ski, I highly recommend this for complete newbies as even learning to put the boots and take them off is a skill in itself.
My instructor is patient and spends two hours with me, guiding me down the slopes, teaching me how to turn, take sharp bends and snow plough so I don’t fall off the edge of the mountain. After two hours I am done in and dreaming of being back in the spa again!
I stayed at the Badrutt’s Palace with a guest photographer and our experience, in summary, was in the words of Mary Poppins, ”practically perfect in every way”. Your loved one, mother, father, grand parents or children would all think so too.
Begin your fairy tale to the Palace by travelling by train – which takes you through the snowy mountains (two hours from Zurich) and feels like a journey through Narnia.