THE ALPINA GSTAAD
Just looking back at these photos and writing this post makes me extremely nostalgic for the time we spent at The Alpina in Gstaad. We stayed at The Alpina earlier this year in March, towards the end of their last winter season, and the good news is that they are now open again for this winter season, and I can finally tell you all about our absolutely incredible stay.
It’s hotels like this that remind me why I first fell in love with the industry… hotels where the customer experience is so well thought out, and where every single little corner of the place is utterly perfect. As an interior designer who painfully dwells on the details of every space, this was pure heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I love the food, the quality of the service, and hotel spas; but it’s the space, the art, and the tales that a place like this could tell that excite me the most.
I loved the homage to authentic Swiss alpine design through elements like carved ceilings, wood panelling and leather detailing, mixed with modern touches, and a spectacular private art collection. I don’t think any photos can really do this experience justice, but I did want to try to give you a taste of what it was like.
Let’s kick things off with a little wander around our room.
We stayed in a Junior Suite which was pure luxury. We had a king size bed adorned with two particularly fitting cowbell bedside lamps that I’m desperate to make my own version of, a separate sofa area with our very own fireplace, a bath and a rain shower, and plenty of cupboard space to store our ski gear.
We were welcomed by a miniature chocolate bundt cake, a bowl of fruit and nuts, a bottle of wine (much to Clive’s delight), a bouquet of flowers (much to mine), the tastiest chocolate truffles, and a kind word from Maxime who organised our stay.
We spent two nights at The Alpina and most of my time was spent trying to find excuses to not ever have to leave the hotel. I’m not going to lie, most of my time in the mountains anywhere is spent convincing friends or family that we should just sit by the fire and drink tea and look out at the snow, but particularly on this occasion as I wanted to soak up every inch of this beautiful space. Luckily for me, the snow wasn’t great on day one, so Clive didn’t take much convincing.
On our first night, we ate at Restaurant Sommet, their fine dining restaurant where Executive Chef Martin Göschel whips up creative menus inspired by his travels. The lighting was a little tricky so I don’t have many photos of the food, but I remember being surprised by how carefully plated every single dish was with nuts, tuiles and microgreens laid on with the utmost precision. They also had a dessert specially conceived for International Women’s Day by one of their female pastry chefs. My favourite dish was probably the white chocolate and hazelnut dessert with popping candy. You know, those little pop rocks that sizzle and pop in your mouth? There is no space too chic to hold me back from giggling and insisting that Clive held his ear near my mouth to hear the pops. It took me right back to my childhood.
Much to my dismay, on our second day, Clive did manage to get me out of the hotel and we headed up to the mountains after a delicious in-room breakfast. We had tea (and very good tea at that), French toast, and the infamous Alpina waffle which was absolutely wonderful. A hotel with such attention to detail that they have a custom-cut waffle iron is my kind of hotel!
After breakfast, we picked up our ski passes at the lobby and were whisked up the mountain in a swanky white Tesla. Reluctant as I was to leave the hotel, that wasn’t a bad way to be swooped off to the foot of the slopes.
After a few runs on the last of the season’s snow, we ate at the Wasserngrat, an independent restaurant at the top of the ski lift. A rösti to fuel us for another few hours on the now rainy slopes, I was soon ready to head back to a little moment of calm at The Alpina’s Six Senses Spa where we were each treated to a Signature Massage.
After a lovely winter’s day on the slopes and an afternoon warming up in the spa, we got dressed up and headed down to Megu. Megu is the hotel’s Japanese restaurant, recently voted Switzerland’s best Asian restaurant by Gault & Millau. It is also home to the largest sake collection in Switzerland.
The interior design was spectacularly beautiful. The space was designed by French interior designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, using antique kimonos and slated wood inspired by Japanese temples. The style surprisingly seamlessly blends into the hotel with the little touches of alpine woods and cosy carpeted floors.
The menu served to us at Megu is a menu that I’ll never forget. Clive and I still talk about various dishes on the menu frequently (especially the beef). Our waiter suggested three different types of sake to go with our meal, and he took the time to explain the quite complex sake classification system and what it was that we were drinking. I love it when you can pick up little nuggets of knowledge during an experience like this.
We started our meal with tuna tataki, followed by asparagus crumbled with Japanese rice crackers and Kanzuri shrimp:
The next course was a selection of very fresh sushi, followed by the pièce de résistance, the flambéed Wagyu beef brought out on a stone grill.
I’m not normally one to enjoy a steak by itself, but this was something else. The vegetables were crunchy and the beef was flavoursome. perfectly cooked and just melted in your mouth. It was incredible.
Throughout the meal and in between each of our relevant courses, we had short chats with the elderly couple sitting at the table next to us. We talked about all sorts of things, but mostly about how impressed we all were with the experience we were having at The Alpina. I feel like little exchanges like that with other hotel guests are sometimes quite rare in luxury hotels, but there’s something about alpine hotels that makes you feel right at home and those moments seem to come so naturally.
On our last day at the hotel, we requested a late check out so we could really make the most of our room. After an early breakfast and another Alpina waffle (because I just couldn’t get enough), we went for a little walk around the hotel and grounds before heading to the Lounge & Bar.
Below are two examples I wanted to show you of some of the incredible artwork dotted around the hotel. The metal horns were made by Ann Carrington using hundreds of old bone and horn handled knives, and this colourful portrait by Ashley Bickerton, made in part with found objects.
I love how so many of the pieces of art around the hotel are focused on sustainability and integrate some kind of upcycled objects.
In the lounge, we ordered a large healthy sharing platter which was just what we needed after a few days of indulging. It was beautifully presented and every mouthful just as delicious as the last.
We sat in the lounge taking our time and watching the gentle snowfall outside reluctant to get up as that would mean our stay at The Alpina Gstaad had come to an end.
As I said at the beginning of this post, no pictures or words can really do our experience at The Alpina justice. It was all sorts of magical and certainly a contender for the best hotel experience I’ve ever had. I’m expecting the be back in Gstaad early next year with one of my best friends, and I’ve already got our food and spa itinerary in mind and ready to be booked.
If you’re on the lookout for a particularly magical experience this winter, The Alpina is now open again for the season until early spring! This would make the most wonderful and memorable Christmas gift for your special person.
This was a gifted experience by The Alpina Gstaad but all opinions are my own. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the staff at The Alpina Gstaad for having us and for making our stay so special, and a special thanks for Maxime for the seamless organisation and lovely chats. I hope to see you again soon! xS