TESTED BY Ramsey Qubein
HOW MANY ROOMS? 172 rooms and suites
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Central location, celebrity-style service, throwback elegance
PRICE Internet rates for a standard room including breakfast begin at CHF357 ($370)
CONTACT Kulm Hotel 7500 St. Moritz, Switzerland, tel +41 81 836 80 00, kulm.com
VERDICT: Bask in the glory that is ritzy St. Moritz. Whether it is summer or winter (the hotel closes during the off season), this exquisite Engadine mountain palace is a charming respite away from this village’s glittering lifestyle.
BACKGROUND: This legendary hotel is a cradle for winter sports; the hotel grounds hosted the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Winter Games. Founded by the Badrutt family – who later established the nearby Badrutt’s Palace – the Kulm is known for its understated glamour. The hotel is open seasonally: winter months are the biggest draw for well-heeled European and North American snow bunnies longing for the luxurious tradition of this celebrated lakeside ski town.
WHERE IS IT? Sitting a couple of curves higher up the mountain than the Palace, this property offers even more exquisite village and lake views. Notable celebrities date back to Charlie Chaplin, but the latest star check-ins are rather protected by the doting staff. If you want a complimentary lift to the lake, the nearby ski area or sister Grand Hotel Kronenhof, luxury sedans and vans stand at the ready.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? This restored palace is one of the top five-star hotels in town (quite a feat in a village stockpiled with five five-star properties). The property is actually several buildings that run along the hillside; as the buildings transition, the interior design of guest rooms changes from rustic-meets-elegant to more traditional ski lodge. The more traditional lobby drips crystal chandeliers and expensive fabric-coated furnishings.
ROOM FACILITIES: Depending upon your room category, the view and style can change quite drastically, with almost no two rooms alike. It begins with the difference between Superior and Deluxe (the former facing town while the latter offers panoramic lake and village views). Hypo-allergenic carpeting is pillow-like with brocaded fabrics lining the tall windows that open for fresh (and we’re talking the freshest) air. Many feature furnished terraces, and all come with narrow work desks, small sitting areas with fresh fruit bowls, and flat-screen cable TVs that swing out for angled viewing. Free wireless high speed Internet is available throughout the hotel. Marble bathrooms feature heated floors, oversized towels, rainfall showerheads, and vanities stocked with Asprey Purple Water toiletries.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: As with most seasonal properties, some restaurants only open in the high season (here, wintertime). Open year-round, however, is the exemplary pizzeria with creative pizzas, freshly made pastas (the hotel is minutes away from the Italian border), and a view that is one of the best on the property. Chesa al Parc is a short walk from the main property and operates as a truly Swiss restaurant with outdoor terrace favored by locals. The lobby bar features live music most evenings and the cigar bar devotes its wall of windows to amazing Lake St. Moritz views. The hotel’s grand restaurant serves a lovely buffet breakfast and elegant a la carte dinner with old world touches like a finely dressed sommelier and tableside presentations.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: The hotel features numerous wood paneled conference areas with natural light and the latest audiovisual capabilities. Don’t forget the card room, typically used by those playing bridge or poker, but with the option to turn it into meeting space – as is the case in some of the restaurants.
LEISURE FACILITIES: The spa is a major draw with an outdoor hydrotherapy plunge and a glass-coated indoor swimming pool. Besides a modern fitness center, there are tennis courts and the Alps’ first nine-hole golf course. Guests also have access to a larger spa at the nearby Grand Hotel Kronenhof.