Hotel Reviews: Nira Alpina, Surlej, St Moritz, Switzerland
The lowdown St Moritz is known for its high-profile guests. It isn’t known for being at the cutting edge of design. So contemporary design fans should make a beeline to this, St Moritz’s first hotel to offer guests ski-in, ski-out access in a setting that blends the modern with the traditional. It’s a seductive blend: the library features Taschen’s finest and there’s Moooi’s cult Horse Lamp in reception, but there are also sheepskin throws and log fires to soften any hard edges.
The rooms Nearly all of Nira Alpina’s 70 rooms – sleek, pared-down and no-nonsense rather than theatrically luxurious – overlook the Engadin valley and come with their own sun terrace to maximise the views. If you can, take one of the suites: you get more space and a sun terrace that gives straight onto the garden/mountainside. If conditions are right, you could ski straight down to ski school from your room.
Eating and drinking Ambitious Asian and modern Swiss cooking with a wholesome slant, plus plenty of alpine classics such as fondue, raclette and air-dried charcuterie. The hotel’s Canadian-inspired log cabin outdoor bar, Pichalain (its name means ‘woodpecker’ – isn’t that adorable?), is perfect for a glass or two of restorative mulled wine after a day on the slopes.
Out and about Nira Alpina has its own private covered walkway to take guests the 50 yards to Corvatsch cable car, which leads to the resort’s most challenging skiing (we’re talking long reds, blacks and untracked off-piste). But the hotel runs a shuttle the three miles to St Moritz Dorf so guests can ski St Moritz’s Corviglia slopes too. In summer, Nira would be a great base for hiking, sailing, horse riding, kite surfing and generally being stylishly outdoorsy.
Après ski Head for the bijoux Nira Spa, which includes a good-size whirlpool overlooking the slopes, a big sauna room, a steam room, a rasul room and an aroma room, alongside a generous menu of muscle-stretching and body-beautifying treatments. Once suitably pampered, head upstairs to the hotel’s Rooftop Bar for cool, loungey sounds and slickly prepared cocktails. Or head into town for serious people watching. Expect lots of glossy, Kate Middleton-style long hair rather than short, Prada rather than Primark, and high levels of fashion and personal grooming (in St Moritz even the dogs are beautifully manicured and wear a designer fur coat).
Don’t miss Bring a skater skirt and woolly tights and hire a set of skates at St Moritz’s outdoor skating rink. Its setting is so picture-book pretty it makes Somerset House look grittily urban.
The details Nira Alpina, Via dal Corvatsch 76, CH-7513 Silvaplana, Switzerland (tel 00 41 81 838 69 69; or visit niraalpina.com). Doubles at Nira Alpina start from £270 per room per night, b&b, for winter 2012/2013, and include ski pass.
Getting there SWISS offers up to 19 flights daily from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich. Return fares start at £119, including taxes (tel 0845 601 0956; or visit swiss.com). The Swiss Travel System Transfer Ticket covers a round trip by train between the airport and your destination from £90 in second class and £144 in first class (tel 00800 100 200 30; or visit swisstravelsystem.co.uk). For information on Switzerland call the Switzerland Travel Centre on 00800 100 200 30; visit MySwitzerland.com; or e-mail email@example.com. For train and flight packages, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate O’Donnell