Which destinations sit at the top of your travel bucket list? I love tropical temperatures, desert landscapes and crystal clear beaches. So California (Palm Springs and Los Angeles, in particular), Tulum, Austin, Nashville, Portofino and the Maldives currently complete my travel bucket list. I’ve never given snowy, mountainous destinations much thought, so it should come as no surprise that Gstaad, Switzerland, wasn’t ever a “must-see” for me.
However, I recently got the chance to spend 72 hours in the Swiss Alps, and I’m now completely sold on the winter vacation. I’d always naively assumed that because I don’t ski there would be nothing for me to do in a town like Gstaad. But, it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Gstaad is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life (whether you plan to hit the slopes or the spa). And it also has a really lively summer season.
If you usually save your holiday days for beach destinations, here’s why I think you should give the Swiss Alps some attention…
I travelled to Gstaad with a fabulous group of London-based lifestyle bloggers, and we were lucky enough to stay at the iconic Gstaad Palace hotel. The Palace is steeped in history, and has played host to many superstars since it first opened its doors in 1913 (we’re talking the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren and Madonna).
The 5-star hotel sits at the heart of Gstaad, and provides the most breathtaking views of the region. Eating breakfast on my private balcony, with the Swiss Alps sitting peacefully in the background, is an experience I’ll never forget. It truly felt like the height of luxury!
Once checking in at Gstaad Palace you definitely won’t want to leave. And, honestly, there is little reason to. The hotel houses multiple restaurants – from a cosy Italian though to a traditional Swiss fromagerie. And there is also a chic, ‘70s-inspired nightclub on site.
I enjoyed every second of my stay at Gstaad Palace, and hope I’ll be able to return and experience their summer season, one day.
Gstaad Palace is open during the winter and summer. Their summer 2018 season runs from June 23rd through to September 9th. Their next winter season begins on December 21st and ends on March 10th, 2019. Find more information and book your stay here.
The Palace Spa
For me, a massage is the ultimate luxury. I once read that Paris Hilton gets massages and facials multiple times a week, and I’ve never been more jealous of someone in my life! I could quite happily spend an entire month at a spa, as it’s the only time I truly relax, and the Palace Spa feels spectacularly indulgent.
The Gstaad Palace wellness complex spans 1,800 square metres, and includes both an indoor and outdoor pool, an outdoor hot tub, saunas and steam baths, eight treatment rooms and a private spa. And there is also a gym and fitness studio on site.
We were all treated to the Palace Spa’s signature massage, which is a unique to the hotel. It involves wooden rollers and energising silver fir oil, created a few kilometres from the Palace. It was such a reviving treatment, and – although it sounds totally cheesy – afterwards I felt like a whole new woman!
Ski season was coming to an end when we arrived in the Alps. But there was still a lot of activity on the slopes. And, although we didn’t ski, we all dressed in our most comfortable ski wear, and enjoyed a truly magical morning on the glacier.
We took a short drive from Gstaad Palace hotel to Glacier 3000. Then climbed more than 3,000 metres above sea level, in cable cars, until we reached the peak of the glacier. The views over the Bernese Alps were absolutely breathtaking and stunned us all to silence (for a while, at least).
Once at the peak of the glacier there were plenty of activities to enjoy – from tobogganing and dog-sleigh rides to a peak walk that connects two mountains via a suspension bridge. We took in the views, then enjoyed hot chocolates and lunch at Botta restaurant, which boasts panoramic views of the Alps.
Gstaad is famed for its shopping. It’s such a tiny, picturesque town, but it truly holds its own when it comes to luxury fashion and fine jewellery. In fact, I think the Louis Vuitton boutique in Gstaad might be one of the most photographed stores in the world. It almost looks too perfect to be real!
We spent many happy hours strolling through the town, window shopping and purchasing far too many Swiss chocolates at the local pâtisserie. Which, really, is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, if you ask me…
Plan Your Visit to Gstaad:
We travelled to Gstaad from London Gatwick, flying into Geneva airport with EasyJet. We then took two 1.5 hour train journeys through the Swiss Alps, up to Gstaad train station, which is a three-minute car journey to Gstaad Palace hotel. Visit during the winter or late summer. The annual Alpine Cow Descent takes place on the first week of September, and it’s quite the sight (Google it if you don’t believe me).
Are you now tempted to book your own trip to Gstaad? Leave a comment below to share thoughts thoughts…