Home WinterAccommodation The exquisite GRACE LA MARGNA Hotel, the dame from 1907 brought back to life

The exquisite GRACE LA MARGNA Hotel, the dame from 1907 brought back to life

by Adam Attew
Grace La Margna

A new era has begun at GRACE LA MARGNA

St Moritz is so integral to the history of Alpine tourism and heavily linked to the Victorian British who initially came to this high altitude oasis to cure their ailments and ended up staying for the landscape, the bizarre activities and the high life. St Moritz has become synonymous with style, class and grace which is where the new GRACE LA MARGNA steps in to take the baton and rethink… no, reinvent the meaning of these words.

Located in a beautiful 1907 veteran building from the Belle Epoch, GRACE LA MARGNA was recently woken from her slumber of over a decade. As a protected building, developing such a building could be tricky but Divercity Architects of London managed to work with the old girl’s timeless features and breathe life back into the original Margna wing, including the 47 bedrooms. The hotel has held onto its charm from a bygone age that made this madame such a beauty, but with modern updates that have brought her into the 21st century with style and dare I say it, grace.

Grace La Margna Exterior

To the west is the new Grace wing which starts a new chapter for the hotel, with panoramic windows taking advantage of the beautiful Engadine views, 27 spacious contemporary rooms that seem to aesthetically sit very well alongside the original building without stealing her thunder.

For the first time in decades, GRACE LA MARGNA is the first 5-star Superior hotel in St. Moritz to remain open 365 days a year. One might initially think that this is crazy, but St. Moritz is so much more than just a skiing destination; having experienced St. Moritz in summer and autumn is clear that St. Moritz has a lot to offer outside the winter months. There always seems to be some event running whether it be car shows, jazz and classical music festivals, horse trials, golf, or marathons as well as various activities on the lakes, hiking throughout the stunning mountains or just visiting to see the colours of autumn whilst winter visits the peaks.

Grace La Margna

Dining at the GRACE LA MARGNA

Some of my favourite memories are the long, relaxed breakfasts in The View restaurant, a modern addition to the east end of the building. A large circular building with spectacular views, but I guess the name gave that away. The walls and ceiling are not only pleasing to the eye, but they also appear to create great acoustics which prevent it from sounding like a school dining room. I could sit in The View for hours on end if it was not for the fact that I could always hear the mountains calling me.

Dinners in The View are also a delight, the vibe changes to an intimate yet chilled affair with a heavy Italian influence to the cuisine all backed up by outstanding service. No need to don black tie and ball gowns, come as you are and whatever you feel like wearing on the day, with open arms and welcoming smiles the team will be ready to look after you. I could live here… oh I did, but that is another story that I will come back to…

One of my favourite culinary experiences is The Max Moritz, a vibrant little Stübli style restaurant with a modern twist where they serve various fondues including vegan cashew cheese, röstis, soups and delightful desserts. This is no stuffy 1970s fondue, this is more fundoo for the 2020s!

Grace La Margna

N/5 Bar at the GRACE LA MARGNA

If The View is the stomach of the building, then the N/5 Bar is the soul of The Grace. From day to night she changes her looks depending on how she feels, from morning coffee to relaxed long lunches, from decadent afternoon teas to hedonistic evenings of cocktails and music, she is a lady of many faces, none of which should be missed. 

The team who look after N/5 Bar is led by the truly hospitable Italian Mirco, the epitome of flare and surrounded by a team of stylish and very talented folk, guaranteed that you will come for one drink and want to work your way through the menu or perhaps let the Tarot cards choose your cocktail. No word of a lie, they have tarot cards that will pick your drink for you, so throw caution to the Alpine winds and let N/5 lead you astray.

Grace La Margna

The Bedrooms at the GRACE LA MARGNA

It is ironic that whilst staying at a hotel, one spends most of the hours somewhere else… in dreamland! OK enough of the riddles, but the worship of sleep and everything around it is integral to physical and mental health. So is it not imperative that the hotel bedroom should be a serene haven to relax the mind and the body? Well the GRACE LA MARGNA has managed to create just this, from the huge pillow menu accessed via the in-room tablet, to the large and perfectly tuned mattresses, blackout curtains and memory foam floor mats to gently stimulate the soles of your feet awake when you must rise out of bed. 

One of my bugbears is hotel rooms that are beautifully designed but with no storage space, so once the luggage is unpacked and strewn across the room the interior design is destroyed; however the storage space here is huge thus upholding the integrity of the exquisite design, so go ahead and pack that second ski outfit or five pairs of Jimmy Choos. 

Grace La Margna

If the ‘devil is in the details’ then he is lurking in every corner, with modern micro USB ports, endless Dyson products that can be ordered through the room tablet, a B&O Bluetooth speaker which packs some punch, a huge minibar fridge which is all complimentary – I never understand why 5-star hotels can legitimately charge – a decent sized desk if you have to do some work, and the rooms are pretty well soundproofed too, I never once heard any fellow guests. 

The bathrooms are a true pleasure as well, for once a well-lit mirror that does not make one look like the evening has already occurred and it is the morning after to the locally sourced natural bathroom brand Feuerstein which does not turn your hair into straw is divine, the underfloor heating and efficient towel heater to the well thought out dark make-up towel, they have thought of everything. 

The original Margna wing has spacious rooms with cosy windows, relaxing neutral hues and some of the original features such as the odd balcony, whilst the newly built Grace wing has floor-to-ceiling windows, dark blue hues giving a classy touch and is the only wing to have air conditioning in St. Moritz, something never previously required in mountain resorts, but required more and more with rising temperatures.

Grace La Margna

The Spa at GRACE LA MARGNA

Underneath the newly built Grace wing is an area of utter relaxation, no not the two large and spotless underground car parks where your Bugatti can relax after its adventure over the Julier pass; but the spa where muscles are tenderised, faces are rejuvenated and immune systems are replenished. The gym has some great machines to fulfil any weight training and cardio requirements, but yoga classes are also available that will suit all levels from beginners through to aficionados. 

The 20-metre swimming pool is a great length for those wanting to put in some lengths, whilst the counter-current jets can provide endless swimming; afterwards, head over to the large whirlpool for some high-powered massage jets. The saunas and steam rooms along with various exotic showers will complete your relaxation process. 

The spa treatments are certainly worth experiencing, under the guidance of spa manager Olympia, the spa delivers so many different ways to look after your mind and body, we particularly loved the ‘Elixir of the Mountains’ in the private spa suite. Beginning with a session in the private steam room followed by a cool shower, it is then time for the couples massage and finishing off in the jacuzzi. The masseuses seem to have a sixth sense for reading the human body and finding the knots, the aches and the pains. Another recommendation is the ‘Viso’key Manual Lifting Method’, a facial workout and massage that appears to reduce the signs of ageing.

Grace La Margna

So why GRACE LA MARGNA

What makes a hotel special, the interior design? Check. The cuisine? Check. The services? Check. The Spa? Check. But what makes it outstanding? The staff. David Frei the General Manager has not only created something unique in the GRACE LA MARGNA Hotel, but he has surrounded himself with an array of exceptional people; combined the whole team exude creative flair, flirting with life whilst inviting us along for the ride, they are a tonic for the all the stresses of life.

At the Bespoke Black Book, we see a lot of hotels and restaurants and staff is always key to making a place stand out, The GRACE LA MARGNA is no exception to this rule, from the warm welcomes of the front of house to the swashbuckling cocktail magicians of bar N/5, from the suave yet charming teams across all three restaurants providing a service second to none, to the spa team who take away the stresses of life to the in-house ski shop where nothing is a problem and the ski technicians will kit you out ready for the mountain. 

Grace La Margna

Lastly, art and design seem to be running through the veins of GRACE LA MARGNA, from running the NOMAD art festival to exhibiting the gigantic and mesmerising mountain photography by Jürg Kaufmann in the new Grace wing and the photographs in the Margna wing bedrooms by Federico Sette, art collections by Deodato Arte, sculpture by Evelyne Brader-Frank and visually stunning books to be found at the in-house Assouline shop. 

I mentioned earlier that I lived at GRACE LA MARGNA for a while, well I too am exhibiting my alpine art and performing an artist residency at the GRACE.  I could not think of a more inspirational venue to show my paintings from around the Alps as well as set up my easel in The Living Room and paint in front of the guests whilst they pass through on their way to the N/5 Bar or The View, or perhaps to take afternoon tea whilst watching the Englishman paint the local mountains. I am proud to have been a little part of the new story of GRACE LA MARGNA, long may their doors be open to creatives.

GRACE Adam Attew Tripple 001

Oh and lastly, I think I may have stumbled on the reason that the original hotel was called La Margna. La Margna is a mountain directly to the South East in St. Moritz, during my artist residency I noticed that the mountain looked amazing when the early sunlight and the last sunlight hit the mountain. I went to look at many other viewpoints of the mountain and it turns out that the best place to view La Margna mountain is exactly where the hotel was built!

GRACE LA MARGNA ST MORITZ
Via Serlas 5
CH-7500 St. Moritz
Switzerland

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