The elegant and luxurious five star Kulm Hotel stands proudly in the centre of St. Moritz, the original home of winter tourism, enveloped between the breathtaking views of the Engadine lake and the snowy landscaped Alpine mountains. I had arrived at the real winter wonderland.
The Kulm’s name is a German derivation of the Latin word ‘culmen’, meaning hill or crest and is the oldest hotel in St Moritz. Walking around the hotel, I can feel the magnificence of the rich and romantic history. Think old school glamour, antique decor, chandeliers, grand pianos and neoclassical pillars and arches.
Traditionally in the winter season in St Moritz, the hotels closed between September and June during the summer months. It was considered to be too cold and dangerous in the winter. This all changed however in the autumn of 1864, when the Kulm Hotel owner Johannes Badnutt made what became a historic bet with a group of English summer guests. Badnutt convinced them to come back at his expense for the entire winter, even offering to pay their way home. They ended up staying until Easter and winter tourism was launched. In the 1890s various enterprising winter guests were keen to develop new sports using ice tracks – and so skibobbing, skeleton bobsled, and cresta emerged. Soon, competitions for all these sports were held in the vast Kulm Park. The Winter Olympic Games of 1928 and 1948 were opened here. And true to tradition, the Kulm Hotel is today still home to the historic St. Moritz Tobogganing Club and Cresta Club, and the hotel hosts the Olympia Bob Run St. Moritz-Celerina every year.
As we wait to check into our room myself and my photographer guest Hanna sit in the lobby bar, with the glorious sunshine streaming through the windows and are given tea and homemade Swiss biscuits whilst we take in our first and never tiring view of the mesmerizing mountains.
Our beautiful and newly refurbished suite is located in the wing of the property known as the Neukulm. The neutral coloured decor and cosy furnishings have been overseen by the the award-winning French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has previously worked with other luxury brands such as Four Seasons hotels and resorts and The Peninsula hotels.
Other features include floor to ceiling lacquered wall units (which are very characteristic of Pierre-Yves Rochon’s design), natural black stone tiles in the bathrooms and beige or light blue colour ways. In order to reduce noise impact, all the rooms are carpeted. The end result is newly-created rooms that provide the perfect synergy between grand hotel style and modern Alpine living. It’s incredibly peaceful, almost silent, and the still mountains and ever changing colours of the sky create a multitude of photo worthy moments. As does the spa, with an equally breathtaking fairy tale setting.
The spa is a state of the art wellness and fitness dream. Based on its pioneering wellness concept of the three pillars: relaxation, detoxification and regeneration. At over 2000 square meters, it’s one of the best and certainly the biggest spa’s I’ve been to. The facilities are exceptional – steam baths, whirl pool, salt water grotto, Finnish sauna, bio sauna, infrared cabin, keneipp footpath and plenty of heated water beds to relax on. You can’t beat going for an energising swim in the morning then catching the sunrise from the stunning outdoor pool. There’s something rather magical about being outside in freezing temperatures but feeling warm to the bone and watching the midst rise and float off the water against the pine forests and mountains in the background.
This is spa where you could easily spend a full day relaxing or taking some yoga or fitness classes. I find that the surroundings alone have a very meditative and calming effect my body and mind. Having heard excellent feedback on their therapists and treatments I went for my first experience of shiatsu. It’s physically painful as my therapist works very deeply and intuitively to release emotions and muscle tension, at times it becomes almost too much but I breathe through it and feel amazing afterwards, she has definitely shifted something.
We had the pleasure of going to the visit the sister hotel of the Kulm, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina for an impressive 6 course vegetarian gourmet meal. Culinary highlights from his exquisite menu included a cauliflower soup with ricotta cheese and the saving the best until last, the dessert – an incredible box of petit fours and home made chocolates served in a 2 level box with chocolate soil!
After spending only two nights at the Kulm, the old world Swiss charm of the hotel, its superb staff and of course the views, had certainly left a long standing impression. I’d love to go back in the summer months for a different view of the lake, after the ice has melted and the Alps adopt their alternative guises with the donning of their summer suits.