Badrutt’s Palace is the birthplace of Alpine winter sports as we know them – and a favourite European destination for Hollywood superstars
In a part of the world awash with five-star hotels, making a lasting first impression isn’t easy. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel does just that the moment you arrive at St Moritz station and a vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom, part of a fleet that includes one formerly owned by the Queen, awaits to carry you to the lap of luxury.
The choice of car is wholly apt as Badrutt’s Palace is the epitome of old-school glamour. Recently, it celebrated 120 years since its doors first opened. Alfred Hitchcock honeymooned here and returned 34 times. Marlene Dietrich used to perform in the ballroom and Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn was a regular.
But a hotel can only trade on its past for so long. Perhaps its greatest achievement has been striking a balance between staying relevant and ensuring guests keep returning. Badrutt’s Palace is home to the King’s Club, the place to be seen in winter, and won the award for Most Renowned Luxury Hotel 2016 at the Hotel & Spa Awards hosted by LUX magazine.
Situated by Lake St Moritz with stunning views, this palatial grand hotel looks like something out of a magnificent fairy tale. St Moritz itself also celebrated an anniversary in 2014 – 150 years of winter tourism. The common link is Johannes Badrutt who, in 1864, had a wager with his summer guests that they would enjoy winter just as much.
If they didn’t, he promised to pay for their stay. He won the bet: not only did they pay the bill, some stayed until Easter. St Moritz’s winter season was born. Badrutt’s son Caspar later built curling rinks and the world’s first toboggan run, effectively inventing Alpine winter tourism.
The hotel offers free tickets for all ski passes and the Upper Engadin when guests stay two nights or more, and offers a ski school in winter, in-house ski service, shop and rentals. Children are well catered for with the Kids’ Club Palazzino, free for those age three to 12, and three sledging runs in the valley. For retail therapy, try Via Serlas, aka the world’s shortest luxury shopping mile, hosting Cartier, Miu Miu and Armani.
You may feel overwhelmed by the choice of outdoor pursuits, ranging from sledging to cross-country skiing and the famous St Moritz-Celerina Olympic bob run, the world’s only natural run. For a more leisurely excursion, opt for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage over the frozen lake – a favourite for Hitchcock – with mulled wine and sweet treats courtesy of the hotel pastry chef.
To celebrate its birthday, we sampled the hotel’s newest luxury – the 1.2 carat cocktail, which contains a genuine Graff diamond. It sounds ludicrously extravagant, yet perfectly encapsulates Badrutt’s Palace, the home of refined indulgence.
Swiss flies to Zurich from Birmingham, London City and Heathrow, and Manchester, and Edinburgh and Gatwick in season. Flights start at £67 one-way.
Badrutt’s Palace accommodation
A standard double at Badrutt’s Palace in the winter season starts from 490 CHF per night (approx £380) on a B&B basis.