Easy Escapes: St Moritz

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  • Lisa Potter lives the high altitude life in the world's most famous ski resort

    Lisa Potter lives the high altitude life in the world’s most famous ski resort

    Why go? St Moritz’s posh credentials are unparalleled. The Swiss resort has been the playground of the rich and famous since 1864 when it became the birthplace of alpine winter sports and tourism. Well-heeled, with plenty to do for non-skiers, it’s the ideal place to get out those Moncler sunglasses and admire the picture-perfect landscapes of the Upper Engadine valley. Its downhill slopes and cross-country skiing tracks are top class and the resort has played host to two Winter Olympics, – but with over 200 miles of piste, there’s good and varied skiing for all abilities.

    Fast track: winter horse-racing in St Moritz © swiss-image.ch/Michael Mettler

    When? This exclusive ski resort boasts a ‘champagne climate’ (that’s bright and crisp to you and I) with a season that runs to late April. There’s always lots going on with guests from all over the world flocking to its magnificent frozen lake for events like the Polo World Cup (30 January-2 February, polostmoritz.com), White Turf Horse Racing (9, 16, 23 February, whiteturf.ch), and Cresta Run Grand National (15 February, cresta-run.com).

    You really must: Dress to impress and take a stroll round the town with its boutiques selling luxury brands such as Chanel, Gucci and Chopard. If you’re feeling romantic, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow. Note that most of the after-dark action in St Moritz happens behind the closed doors of the resort’s super-luxe hotels.

    Winter warmer: have a drink at Pichalain in the Nira Alpina hotel

    Stay at: Accommodation prices are as steep as the runs here but you can get some luxe on a more purse-friendly budget at the four-star Nira Alpina hotel in Surlej, three miles from town (niralpina.com, doubles from £242 including breakfast). With panoramic views and a distinctly modern aesthetic fused with traditional touches, the hotel is a breath of fresh alpine air in comparison to St Moritz’s grander and more pretentious hotels. It’s connected to the Corvatsch cable car station via a private walkway, which means you can get yourself up to 16,000 feet in just 15 minutes. All 70 rooms come with a balcony or terrace, plus there’s two restaurants serving international and Italian cuisine, an elegant bar, a bakery, and a Canadian-inspired cosy log cabin, Pichalain, which is a great place to enjoy a glass of mulled wine after a busy day on the slopes. The stylish and friendly Nira Alpina also has a spa which features a long list of treatments, as well as a steam room, sauna and whirlpool – try the 75 minute Alpine Woodstick massage (£143) which harnesses the energy of the forests to purify negativity.

    Room with a view: get some mountain air at the Nira Alpina hotel

    Dine at: Stars, at Nira Alpina, serves reviving dishes such as pork belly cooked overnight with Earl Grey tea and plum purée (£14), and you can also get lighter fare like miso salmon (£15) in the Rooftop bar. If you’re into your grub go now for the St Moritz Gourmet Festival (27-31 January; stmoritz-gourmetfestival.ch) which sees some of the best chefs in the world cook up a storm – this year there’s 17 Michelin stars in town.

    Bring home: A taste for the expensive things in life and a slab of chocolate from Cafe Hanselmann (hanselmann.ch).

    Book now: Swiss (swiss.com) has direct flights to Zurich from London, Birmingham and Manchester, from £130 return. Transfers to St Moritz take around 3 hours 45 minutes by train (from £92 return, swisstravelsystem.co.uk).

    Info: For a comprehensive guide to the resort check out engadin.stmoritz.ch, while myswitzerland.com has lots of information on how to enjoy Switzerland in winter.


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