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St.-Moritz Hotel Picks

SUVRETTA HOUSE The first thing to know about Suvretta House is that it is not in St.-Moritz. It's not off in a suburb, either (as quite a few hotels that claim St.-Moritz addresses are), but in aneighborhood of private chalets a few minutes beyond the town. Although some find this location out of the way, for many it's ideal: quieter, more exclusive, discreet, and still within reach of the action (the hotel runs shuttles to town).

The second thing to know is that Suvretta is a deeply traditional hotel. After 7 p.m., men must don a jacket and tie, even to lounge in the lobby, and women break out their ball gowns. This creates an air of sophistication and formality that is in perfect keeping with the hushed surroundings. Let the jet-setters stay at the Palace and the hard-core skiers at the Kulm; Suvretta is where you'll find three generations of an Italian family—all impeccably dressed and groomed—who come for a month each year and settle for nothing less than their usual set of rooms.

Those rooms, it must be said, are the hotel's weakest link. Like the Palace and the Kulm, Suvretta is in the midst of a renovation, scheduled for completion in December 2003, and the 210 rooms are in varying states: from fully renovated to untouched for years. Save the few that have been recast in an atypically contemporary fashion (black-and-white photos, ebonized wood, beige and cream fabrics), none are long on style. I advise inspecting whatever you're assigned before accepting it. A general rule: the fourth floor is considered the most desirable—rooms are renovated and have high ceilings (whereas ceilings are unusually low on the fifth and sixth floors). If you can get one of the 23 with a terrace or balcony, so much the better.

Of course, you don't come to Suvretta to stay in your room. You come for ski-in/ski-out access to less crowded slopes (note that there's no snowmaking, so weather is critical). For afternoon bridge games. For swimming in the striking indoor pool, which has slate walls and a waterfall. Most of all, you come for a resort experience, with everything you need right at hand. You could easily spend a day here, as I did, doing little else than relaxing in the light-filled lobby, moving on to Anton's Bar for cocktails, and finishing up with a fine cheese fondue in the clubby Stube.

Despite its size, there's a familial atmosphere at Suvretta, thanks in large part to a staff that is the warmest I've encountered in Switzerland. It helps that a great number of them have been employees for several decades. After only two days, Paola knew to leave the top sheet on my bed untucked, and Gianni was making me sandwiches—thin slices of ham on crusty rolls with the merest suggestion of butter—just the way I like them.
Via Chasellas; 800/223-6800 or 41-81/836-3636; www.suvrettahouse.ch; doubles from $460, including breakfast and dinner.

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