As one of Switzerland’s most pristine Alpine villages, Gstaad is chocolate-box pretty, with flowerbox-trimmed wooden chalets and turreted palaces amid fir forested mountains. Known as a millionaire’s paradise, Gstaad is famously flashy with cliquey, private chalet parties and plenty of swanky shopping on the posy promenade. As a relatively low-altitude resort – 1000 m, with the highest slope just 200 m – it’s an ideal weekend jaunt for those who are just as much about the scene as the ski, says Emma Whitehair
The Weekender: 48 Hours in Gstaad
One of the oldest hotels in Gstaad, Le Grand Bellevue is a pretty primrose yellow building with balustraded balconies and natty grey and-white awnings. The classic heritage alpine ‘Grand’ exterior of the 57-room hotel was originally built in 1912, while its new modern interior is thanks to new young British owners, who reopened the hotel in 2014, fast transforming it into Gstaad’s hipster honey pot.
Le Grand Bellevue is how you’d imagine Soho House would do Gstaad. A quirky Cotswold-style interior, with a playful spirit evident in everything from the chunky silver pineapple room key to House of Hackney prints and birdcage swing seats. There’s even a life-size fabric camel in reception, called Leonard.
The rooms are understated and luxurious, with a Neisha Crosland houndstooth check in mouse brown and ecru setting the tone for a serene palette of wood and neutrals. Mod cons include built in Bose speakers, a large TV screen with surround sound, and a coffee machine. The mini bar is complimentary, and the spacious marble bathroom features Bamford bath products.
LEONARD’s restaurant at Le Grand Bellevue, is one of the top fine dining destinations in Gstaad. With an Italian influenced menu overseen by two Michelin-starred chef, Francesco de Bartomoleis. While the bar and room menu is also worth writing home about too. From the latter, try the exceptional quinoa beetroot burger (which looks like rare beef) with avocado and fried egg in a moist and flakey brioche/croissant hybrid bun, served with crisp and light sweet potato fries and a curry dip. A far cry from the usual vegetarian fare in mountain resorts, which often means they just take the meat off the plate.
While out on the slopes of Mount Eggli, make a pit stop for a hot chocolate and snap with the Gstaad sign at the Gstaad Gourmet Mobil. And for a rustic Swiss fine dining experience, try Restaurant Sonnenhof with its panoramic terrace for lunch, or cosy and romantic interior for dinner.
A trip to Le Mirage art project is a must. An exceptional mirror house in the middle of the mountains, which is an instagrammer’s delight. While a visit to the winter wonderland at Lake Lauenen is also worthwhile if you have time – a beautiful village and landscape that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere.
If you want to fit in with the cool cats in town, Perfect Moment is the ski uniform de rigeur. With a decent little edit in Le Grand Bellevue boutique, you can also buy high performance skincare from the brand’s collab with Dr Barbara Sturm, including her new Ski Cream which is tailored to the skin’s precise seasonal and sporting activity needs.
Then, on the main street, there’s the chalet-style outposts of the likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren, with the collections tailored to the Alpine setting.
Gstaad is best-known for skiing, and has more than 130 miles of slopes for all levels. But the traditional alpine town is fast redefining itself as a summer destination, with glorious hiking and wellness retreats aplenty.
As well as hosting yoga retreats, Le Grand Bellevue has the region’s biggest spa. A temple to wellbeing in a subterranean setting, with 17 heat therapy experiences such as a hay sauna, along with experiential showers, Himalayan salt grotto and a cave-like Turkish steam bath lit only with a ‘star-studded’ ceiling.
Getting to Gstaad
Don’t be tempted by an airport transfer if you are travelling by day. Instead, take the GoldenPass train line from Geneva airport, that takes you through breathtaking scenery, passing Lake Geneva before ascending into the mountains. And if you can, take the Belle Epoque train at sunset for humbling views that will stir your soul.
Photography: Nick Hopper