St. Moritz is synonymous with the word “luxury”, as an alpine resort town in Switzerland’s Engadin valley it has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, has the Cresta Run, a world-championship bobsled run made of natural ice, and an outdoor Olympic ice rink. Its beautiful frozen lake hosts polo, cricket and even horse racing on ice. Ski and snowboard areas include Corviglia, Diavolezza and Corvatsch and there are well-groomed cross-country ski trails BUT none of this would have come to pass without hotel pioneer Johannes Badrutt. In 1855, hotel pioneer Johannes Badrutt rented the 12-room Pension Faller, which he bought two years later and turned into the Hotel Engadiner Kulm, creating the village’s first hotel and laying the foundations for the Swiss luxury travel industry in the Alps. The property immediately became popular for summer spa and painting holidays, particularly among the British who comprised around 75% of the guests. However, in the autumn of 1864, the story goes, Johannes Badrutt sat by the fire in Kulm Hotel in St. Moritz with four English holiday guests. He waxed lyrical about St. Moritz in winter – a snow-blanketed landscape basking in sunshine with mild temperatures during the day. The English did not believe him since they knew the dark, cold English winters all too well. This conversation led to the legendary bet: Badrutt suggested that the four should return in December, and if they did not enjoy their stay, he would reimburse all their travel expenses. The Englishmen returned – and stayed until Easter. Badrutt won his bet, and winter tourism was essentially born.
The Kulm Hotel may have a history that spans over 160 years, but the Niarchos family (who have owned the Kulm since 1968) have invested heavily in recent years to ensure that the hotel offers a totally immersive luxury experience. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Virtuoso and Switzerland’s Gault Millau Hotel of the Year 2018, the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz has an incomparable air of luxury, tradition, modern comfort and warm hospitality. The property is renowned for its exceptional culinary offerings, outstanding service standards, stunning location with breathtaking views of Lake St. Moritz and the Engadine Valley, magnificent rooms by Pierre-Yves Rochon, and its wide-ranging health and fitness offering, including its spectacular modern spa. So you can imagine with all this history how ecstatic I was when we checked into this world renowned luxury hotel in deep crisp winter, much like those doubting English centuries ago, but this time with no doubt whatsoever that our stay would be nothing but a 5 star experience.
The entrance is, to say the least, impressive, with its columns and grand wooden doors. Upon entering we were greeted by the front desk and swiftly checked in whilst our cases were whisked away out of sight and taken directly to our room. We ascended the staircase to the lounge, from here we took a corridor to the elevators and up to our room. Our room was a Lakeside South Deluxe Junior Suite that had recently been refurbished by internationally renowned designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. These stylish junior suites with a sitting area exude the ambiance of a Parisian salon. The Swiss pine decor blends with the colours of the soft furnishings to lend an irresistible charm and with sweeping views of Lake St. Moritz and the Engadine mountain make for a truly luxury experience. I adored the colouring of our suite; pale french powder blues and creams juxtaposed with the alpine wood panelling with each little nook and space utilised as a wardrobe or storage space. The bed was so comfortable and such a welcome relief after a long day skiing, crisp white sheets and soft squishy pillows to aid in the perfect night’s sleep.
The Kulm Hotel is also famous for its culinary offerings with a large number of restaurants specialising in a wide range of culinary options, from local Engadine specialities to international fine dining. Breakfast and a six-course evening menu are served in the elegant Grand Restaurant, where formal dress is required. The 30-seater restaurant “The K”, which is only open in winter, is now home to three-star Michelin chef Mauro Colagreco, an Argentine of Italian ancestry who will bring his award-winning cuisine to St. Moritz. The Pizzeria is a more informal restaurant serving Italian favourites, such as homemade wood-stove pizzas and pasta, while Chesa al Parc in the Kulm Park is the place to book for Swiss and Engadine specialities. The Altitude Bar, where a pianist tickles the ivories, is ideal for an aperitif or post dinner digestif; opposite it is the Miles Davis Lounge, which stocks a wide selection of whiskies and cigars. The legendary Sunny Bar is the home of the infamous Cresta Riders during the day, but at night, Claudia Canessa cooks up Peruvian specialities. We were lucky enough to dine at many of these outlets and I loved how different they all were which was so refreshing as each evening felt so different in terms of cuisine and the level of glamour that was required for each one. The Pizzeria was humble and fun, informal, comfortable and great hearty food. The Grand Restaurant, where we had breakfast, has such a yesteryear feel about it with large drapes, white glove service and silverware. My favourite was probably the Sunny Bar, the perfect combo of luxury but funky, the food, which is Peruvian, was packed with flavour and colour, and the cocktails were utterly delicious, I found it so refreshing to have such a unique cuisine available in the Swiss Alps. We also adored the Altitude Bar, nothing better than a nightcap whilst listening to a live piano in a wooden clad bar.
Lastly, and maybe one of the most impressive parts of the Kulm Hotel, is the immense spa complex. The Kulm Spa, created in 2012 following a CHF12 million investment, might be one of the best wellness addresses in town with over 2000 square metres. The spa complex features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a whirlpool, saunas, relaxation areas, treatment rooms and a gym with studio room, plus a small pool just for children. The Kulm Spa wellness concept is based on the three pillars of relaxation, detoxification and regeneration, designed to ensure that guests find peace, comfort and harmony on every visit. Stunning views of Lake St. Moritz and the surrounding Engadine Mountains further help to instil a sense of calm. We were spoiled rotten and had the use of the Private Spa Suite one afternoon which features a private sauna and steam bath, twin hydro-jet bathtub, waterbed with panoramic views and a lovely fruit platter served with champagne. It was so intimate to spend time together in our private space chilling and taking in the beautiful surroundings.
The Kulm Hotel St Moritz, with its 164 rooms, many restaurants and bars, expansive spa and rich history really is a truly luxury experience. From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave the decor, staff, facilities and ambience exudes friendly professionalism. It was with a heavy heart we checked out but with so much to offer there is always a reason to return to the Kulm Hotel, summer or, thanks to Johannes Badrutt, in winter as well.
Kulm Hotel St. Moritz
Via Veglia 18
7500 St. Moritz