If you are in the centre of Gstaad, staring up at the surrounding mountains, you’d be hard pressed to spot The Alpina Gstaad as something “different”. From the outside, it meets all the rather strict requirements for building in this part of the world. It’s timber-clad in traditional Alpine style, resembles something from another time, another era. However, the closer you get, the more you realise The Alpina Gstaad is anything but your traditional Swiss resort. To be honest, after hearing that the hotel took an estimated $336 million budget to complete (that breaks down to roughly $5 million per room) I had wondered what I would find when I pulled into reception. I’ll tell you now, dear reader, I could never have prepared myself for what I would see next…
The entrance to The Alpina Gstaad is where we began to see a clear difference from the norm. Driving into the hotel is akin to driving into the Bat Cave or a James Bond baddy lair. If you’re picked up from the Gstaad train station by the hotel, you will be arriving in a Tesla SUV. As we silently drove into the hotel reception, we drove underground, past a waterfall and into a circular reception space. The doors rose up from the side of the vehicle and out we stepped, with staff awaiting our arrival, greeting us by name.
Without a moment’s pause, we were led to our room, a plush suite overlooking the most marvellous sunset that lit up the surrounding mountains in pale pink and vibrant orange tones. We had arrived just on time to see the space truly transform and come alive in a different light. For sunset, I sat on the rather large balcony, a hot coffee in hand, and swore to myself to mark this moment in time to come back to forever more. This is one of the most stunning views I have seen in all my time travel writing.
Now, it must be said, that this hotel, while enormous in size, is made up of only 56 rooms and suites. The focus here is not in piling people in, it’s in treating the people staying with you to an unparalleled experience in luxury. The suites, from entry level to the largest suite on offer (the stunning Panorama Suite – pictured below), all feature the same cozy elements. Traditional Swiss details decorate the rooms, from painted cupboards to cowbell light fixtures. With only the finest linens on the bed and toiletries from Acqua di Parma decorating our bathroom shelves, this certainly had all the trimmings of a supreme luxury escape. Yet the room is a very small part of your adventure at Alpina Gstaad.
If spa’s the name of the game for you, a massage here at the Six Senses Spa will set you up perfectly for relaxation bliss. The hotel also features indoor and outdoor heated pools. There’s a cinema room, that looks more like an actual posh cinema than your neighbour’s new home cinema setup. If you have kids there’s a kid’s playroom camp, complete with minder that seems as if she’s come straight out of the school of Mary Poppins. There’s a cigar room with a humidor that will have the finest connoisseurs buckling at the knees. The hotel has even developed its own gin which, you guessed it, is delicious and served with a great deal of pride when ordered. But there’s more.
The hotel’s art collection is second to none in the industry. Personally curated by the hotel majority shareholder’s son, Nachson Mimran, it is a collection that commands respect from any visitor, no matter how developed their knowledge of contemporary art may be. The extensive private collection gives the property the feeling of an illustrious private home, rather than a hotel. Works from Alex Katz, Henrik Olesen, Tracey Emin, Alex Israel, Dan Colen, Terence Koh and many more are dotted throughout the public spaces of the hotel. You know you are in the presence of a great lover and collector when a Tracy Emin neon casually hangs out above the music space in the main bar area – just as she would have probably placed it herself.
I would have my wrists slapped, however, if I failed to mention the foodie scene here at The Alpina Gstaad. They have not one, but two Michelin starred restaurants sitting back to back on the ground floor, one offering what I like to think of as posh comfort foods and the other featuring what you’d never expect to find in Gstaad – a sushi restaurant! Having two restaurants with Michelin stars, for any hotel, is quite the achievement and one that is talked about extensively by guests. While the Michelin stars are of course quite the accolade, all four restaurants at The Alpina Gstaad are worth a visit. My personal favourite, Swiss Stubli, is perhaps the most typical for Swiss cuisine. Offering traditional Alpine cuisine, the fondue here will convert even the toughest cheese critic. The Raclette will also haunt you for the rest of your days. It’s melted cheese heaven on a plate, that doesn’t stop coming until you beg for mercy! I feared I’d have to be rolled out of every restaurant, starting with the breakfast buffet and running straight through until after dinner Alpina Gin & Tonics by the fire.
I wasn’t ready for this experience. As much as I was told, over the years, that this was THE place to visit in Gstaad, I had it in my mind that it was just another luxury resort. That is anything but the case. I’ve left The Alpina Gstaad with a new standard of luxury in place in my mind. If you are seeking out the ultimate retreat, look no further.
For more information or to book, visit: https://www.thealpinagstaad.ch/en
Fashion Foie Gras stayed as a guest of The Alpina Gstaad for two nights for this review.