I’ve always been someone who naturally chases the sun when ‘holiday-ing’ and despite my ‘air’ star-sign the love I have for water knows no bounds. If you were to ask me where in the world are my favourite escapes a long list of tropical beach fringed locations would effortlessly roll off my tongue, as my history of wandering always seem to lead me to the ocean. Having just returned back from an amazing few days in unchartered territory it seems my birth given sign Gemini, could, in fact, have some truth behind the zodiac! Since traveling to the magical winter wonderland that is Switzerland it seems my dual personality tendencies are correct when it comes to water. Whether warm and salty or frozen on top of mountains, there’s just something about H2O…………
Thank-you to a handy app called google analytics I know that most of you reading this blog are based in the UK with me and though I love my home in London, living in a predominantly cold country our travel wishes and dreams often sway towards warmer tropical escapes. I’ve always been privy to sending my attention straight to a sun-kissed sandy shore when booking my holidays, as are most of my family and friends. Are you naturally inclined to book warm at this time of year? Or do you spend the days wishing away the cold until Spring finally arrives? If yes, allow me to introduce you to a paradise you may have never even known existed. Sure, you’ve heard of Switzerland and no doubt the darling destination of Gstaad is also on your radar but when it comes to your definition of paradise would a winter wonderland make the cut? With words and photographs of this whimsical white haven now scrollable now before your eyes, I might just be able to carve out a whole new route to your heart! So next time you plan a ‘winter-escape’ you just might opt for a destination that is a little ‘fresher’ 😉
Gstaad itself is a small upscale region based in the stunning Swiss Alps that is well known to both residents and visitors for it’s down-to-earth atmosphere and genuine alpine living traditions. Within moments of disembarking your train* and entering into the small and picturesque town you can pretty much see, taste and smell the luxury in the air! As most hotels in the area are five star boutique residences, your allocated driver will no doubt meet you at the station and offer you a helping hand with your luggage whilst you scan the streets for your favourite foreign friends. Louis, Dolce and Ralph all wave at you as your car departs and you make a mental note to check in with them later on in the week 😉
The region is famous for the wide range of luxury hotels that offer guests an extravagant and lavish stay making it quite tough to chose between them when booking. Our hotel choice was however the dreamy yet modern Le Grande Bellevue, a hotel that really takes time to make sure that every guest feels like a superstar! I loved the residence so much that I’ll be writing a full review of my stay next week. We were also given a guided tour around a few of the other decadent hotels in the area, all of which offer fabulous places to dine, spa and sleep in! Each one of the hotels we were fortunate enough to visit showcased it’s own fascinating history, charm and traditions. The Alpina being the grandest of them all, with rich fabrics, grand art displays and authentic decor. The hotel also boasts award winning restaurants and an impressive outdoor swimming pool nestled into the snow. Park Gstaad added a unique winter’s garden twist with a fully decked out outdoor igloo, making one of the coolest winter bars in town and the Grand Palace stole the show for impressive suites and show-stopping views!
When it comes to dining in Gstaad the level of luxury in the restaurants go hand in hand with that of the hotels. Michelin stars make yearly appearances and for me the ‘fine’ evening culture is what makes Gstaad so unique and different to other ski resorts in Europe. The atmosphere in Gstaad is very sophisticated in stark contrast to any other winter sport destinations I’ve visited. Rather than heading to a bar or restaurant straight off the slopes in your thermals and ski clobber, guests of Gstaad will retire home to the hotel, pop to the spa or have an indulgent shower and re-dress, (in most cases dressing up in their best!), before heading out for dinner and that high altitude tipple 😉 So rather than witnessing a buzzy vibe at the bottom of the slopes populated in the afternoon with sweaty bodies and ski goggles, the nightlife atmosphere in Gstaad is one of opulence and you’ll find it all in the luxury of your hotel. Whether you are staying at Grand Palace where the spa turns into a nightclub when the dance floor lowers down over the pool or you sneak downstairs to the trendy Bouquet club in the Bellevue for a high-class mingle.
Visiting Gstaad in winter is like stepping into an alternate universe, as described at the start of this post, for me, it gave paradise a whole new meaning! There’s so much to see and do in the quaint destination that even though skiing may be the first thing that comes to mind when planning your adventure there’s far more to enjoy than first meets the eye. So if the thought of learning to ski has put you off a snowy escapes before, you needn’t opt out of a trip to Switzerland if the thought of hitting the slopes just isn’t for you. I’ll be writing a full guide about ‘Things to do in Gstaad’ in my next write up but having spent 5 incredible days there, clicking into my skis doesn’t stand tall at the forefront of my mind when it comes to all of the amazing experiences we had there.
One of the most unique and remarkable things about Gstaad is where it’s located within the grand and extravagant country of Switzerland. Outside of the town’s own stunning views of small picturesque cobbled streets and hills upon hills of snow, just a short drive away, is one of Switzerland’s dreamiest landscapes, Diablerets Glacier. The diverse area is like nowhere I have ever seen, for the first time I’ll use the adjective ‘breathtaking’ and present it as fact! Known more commonly as Glacier 3000, which is the name of the company who run the particular area (offering multiple activities and tours as well as managing the ski slopes) , the vast expanse of snow is simply stunning. Up in the clouds if you are visiting on a clear day the snow sparkles like a cluster of flawless diamonds. I recently wrote an article about how cleansing and calming a trip to the Maldives can be though stood at the top of this very Glacier, staring out to miles of dazzling white landscape, I was left wondering if ‘snow-therapy’ could do the same mind-soothing trick!
The air tastes different, smells and feels different up at such heights and the grand expanse of untouched snow was a truly humbling and gratifying sight to see. To think that you could spend the day cutting through the powder on skis or a gliding down on a snowboard lights me up with excitement and having now had the pleasure of hiking the Glacier, there’s never been more of a pull for me to return to a location. Here’s to hoping that one day I become experienced enough on my skis to soar down these very slopes we snowmobiled past!
Gstaad exceeded all my expectations, I am so grateful to have been invited by the tourist board to sample a 4 night stay in the incredible destination, there’s few places in the world that reappear on my bucket list but this dreamy destination has been reshuffled back in! Watch out for more posts to come about this whimsical destination and for those of you who enjoy seeing a destination come to life, check out my travel vlog of my amazing trip here:
*Gstaad is easiest to access for us Brits by flying into Geneva and taking two trains. From the plane the first train takes you to Montreux and then you switch (seamlessly if you are able to walk with a pace!) to the next train on to Gstaad. The switch is easy, even with suitcases and the scenery whilst on your journey into Gstaad is stunningly beautiful. You can also arrange a private transfer from the airport to your hotel (by car) but the train tends to be a little speedier and is more affordable. We rode with Swiss Travel System, it was great, there are toilets and european plug points on board.