Inside the modern Alpine chic hotel

March 28, 2013, No comments

Alpina bedroomSwitzerland now has 89 five-star hotels, or one for every 90,000 inhabitants even if few of them ever stay in one. That ratio is far higher than in similarly wealthy countries with the same size population: Austria has 54 luxury hotels, Sweden just five. And while neighbouring Germany manages 131, its population is ten times the size so its ratio is one posh hotel for 622,00 people. Switzerland is probably the luxury hotel capital of Europe.

OutdoorBut what’s it like to stay in one? If you’ve never contemplated spending upwards from 500 francs a night to stay somewhere, no matter how high the thread count or how plush the bathroom, then here’s a chance to peek inside the newest five-star on the block: The Alpina in Gstaad, which opened in December 2012. It’s not huge, with 56 rooms, but quite big enough, with an overgrown Swiss chalet look going on.


Now you might think that Gstaad doesn’t need another five-star hotel, or wonder how many does Switzerland really need (88 seemed enough), and you might be right. But at least this one tries to be different by being the same as its surroundings. You definitely don’t feel like you ‘could be anywhere’, it is certainly Swiss. Luxurious but local with exposed stone, carved timber, traditional art and very cute touches like cowbell lights, and Swiss sweet delicacies to welcome you.

Indoor spaThe service was suitably efficient and surprisingly friendly. No obsequious Yes Sir, No Sir but personal without being intrusive, which sadly is not always the case in posh hotels. There was the obligatory spa, also all in natural materials and soothing textures, although allowing noisy kids to be in there kind of diminishes the relaxation factor. Should children even be allowed in five-star hotels? Isn’t that spoiling them far too much at a young age? Perhaps I’m only jealous.

BarThe big question is: would I stay there again? I could get used to places that have Nespresso machines for the in-room coffee, oversized shower heads that deliver a waterfall of water, champagne glasses in the desk drawer instead of a bible, and a breakfast buffet that would’ve kept me happy all day. But at that price, it would have to be for a very very special occasion. To celebrate winning the lottery, for example.

ArtworkSo for now, I’ll just have to remember my one night of Swiss luxury. A taste of modern Alpine chic.

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