The Ultimate Guide to St. Moritz
Issue 19 / 06 September 2019
The Ultimate Guide to St. Moritz

Discover all you need to know about the glamorous resort of St. Moritz in summer and winter with our ultimate guide.

Serena Norton

History of St. Moritz

Situated in the south-east of Switzerland, St. Moritz lies in the stunning Engadin Valley against the backdrop of Piz Nair and Piz Corvatsch. Long been considered the world’s original ski resort, St. Moritz has a reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous, who are attracted to its big-name designer boutiques, five-star hotels and Michelin-star restaurants.

To understand how winter tourism was born in St. Moritz we need to go back to 1864 when hotelier Johannes Badrutt made a bet with some of his British guests. He promised them that as glorious as it was in summer, St. Moritz was just as pleasant in winter. If he turned out to be wrong, he agreed to pay their travel costs and accommodation. The following December saw the group of men return to St. Moritz to be met by blue skies and warm sunshine and thus winter tourism was born.

Since then, St. Moritz has thrived, twice hosting the Winter Olympics and becoming a real mecca for winter sports. There are some fabulous events held throughout the season from the Snow Polo World Cup and White Turf to the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival and Cricket on Ice.

The town of St. Moritz

St. Moritz is divided into two main centres - Dorf, the glitzier more fashionable village and the original spa resort, Bad. Dorf has two main streets lined with boutiques such as Rolex, Cartier and Hermes selling their wares. Bad is less prestigious and lower-key than its neighbour but slightly better positioned for accessing the slopes.

The frozen lake lies at the heart of the resort and is the setting for skating, polo, horse racing, showjumping and even cricket. Regardless of your budget, there is something for everyone to enjoy in St. Moritz, not least the incredible mountain scenery. The resort also claims to have 322 sunny days a year which adds to the feel-good, relaxed ambience experienced by many.

Where to eat and drink in St. Moritz

St. Moritz is a gourmet’s delight with one in ten restaurants awarded a world-class restaurant rating. Ecco, located in the impressive hotel Giardino Mountain, is the highlight with two Michelin-stars with executive chef Rolf Fliegauf creating an innovative menu using seasonal ingredients. Other Michelin-star restaurants include Da Vittorio at the Carlton Hotel and IGNIV by Andreas Caminada at Badrutt's Palace Hotel.

There are excellent fine dining options both on and off the mountain. Recommended is the truffle pizza at CheCha run by top chef Reto Mathis, the oxtail ravioli at Dal Mulin located in the centre of town and Chesa Veglia, a historic farmhouse in the heart of St. Moritz boasting three different restaurants (pizzeria, grill and traditional Swiss) and two bars. For something honest and unpretentious, Veltinerkeller has tons of character, serving homemade pasta and fish and meat cooked on a charcoal grill.

Whilst not as lively as other Swiss resorts like Zermatt or Verbier, the après scene in St. Moritz still has plenty to offer. For afternoon tea, Café Hanselmann on the Via Maistra is a must but if its glitz and glamour you're after then you can’t get much smarter than the Kings Social House at Badrutt's Palace and Hotel. For something more relaxed then the English-style Bobby’s Pub is a haven for beer lovers. Devil’s Place at Hotel Waldhaus am See has the largest selection of whiskey in the world (over 2,500) and an impressive wine cellar too. Hemingway Club is something of a cult and is one of the most lively après-ski spots in town.

Where to stay in St. Moritz

While St. Moritz has plenty of five-star hotels offering supreme luxury there are also a number of chalets offering a similar experience. Chesa el Toula with its incredible spa is just one of these with Chesa Lumpaz and its five floors of incredible living being another. One of the newer properties on the rental market, Chesa Musi, not only has an indoor pool but its own squash court too.

For something traditional and unique, Chesa Albertini in La Punt is worth considering. There are also some fabulous apartments on the edge of Lake St. Moritz such as Apartment Cotschna and Snow White.

Winter in St. Moritz

With 88 slopes spread across 350 km and rising to 3,057m above sea level, St. Moritz has plenty to satisfy all levels of skiers and snowboarders. The main ski area above the resort, Corviglia, is accessed by a funicular from Dorf and a cable car and chairlift from Bad. This is an intermediate playground with long cruising runs and some challenging blacks. On the opposite side of the valley, above St. Moritz Bad, is the smaller Corvatsch area which is popular with free-riders. A 30-minute bus ride away, Diavolezza also offers some good off-piste opportunities as well as a 10 km glacier descent to Morteratsch. There are several smaller ski areas which are great for beginners. These include Languard in Pontresina, Cristins in Silvaplana, Survih in Samedan and Müsella in La Punt. Cross-country skiing is also popular and each year the resort hosts the famous Engadin Ski Marathon.

Beyond the slopes, there is so much to do from ice skating and ice hockey to curling, spa days and of course shopping. For culture vultures, there are several interesting museums and art galleries to discover and a casino for those who enjoy a flutter.

The resort is particularly well-known for the Cresta Run, a natural ice skeleton racing toboggan track where speeds reach up to 138 km/h. The Cresta usually opens just before Christmas and continues for nine weeks until the end of February or early March. There are over 30 highly competitive races and riding takes place every day of the season except Christmas day - a great spectator sport. To get the adrenaline really flowing, you can experience the world’s only natural bobsleigh track with an experienced bobsleigh pilot at the helm.

"St. Moritz is not just a place for aristocrats and billionaires, it is a unique winter sport destination..."
Forbes
"St. Moritz is not just a place for aristocrats and billionaires, it is a unique winter sport destination..."
Forbes

Summer in St. Moritz

St. Moritz is always popular in the summer months and with three lakes in the region, water-sport lovers arrive in droves. Due to the Maloja wind, it’s a sailor’s and kite-surfers paradise whilst stand-up paddleboarding is also common during the warmer months. The Upper Engadin is a hiking paradise, boasting 580 km of trails whilst mountain bikers have access to over 400 km of trails and marked routes.

There are plenty of thrilling events taking place throughout the summer. Car enthusiasts can enjoy several exclusive automotive events including the British Classic Car Meeting in July, Passione Engadina in August and Bernina Gran Turismo in September. There are also two fantastic festivals for music lovers - Festival da Jazz and the Engadin Festival which feature plenty of star turns.

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