Don’t be put off by the 1970s architecture; beyond that brutalist exterior, Arosa’s Tschuggen Grand Hotel is a maze of contemporary elegance and luxury, complete with mesmerising hotel spa designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. To stay here is to live like royalty – hotel guests have access to their own mountain railway (the Tschuggen Express) that drops you off at the start of an exclusive toboggan run; manager Leo Maissen hosts Champagne receptions every week; most rooms have beautiful panoramic views of The Alps; and one of the restaurants even comes with its own bowling alley. And you get chocolates on your pillow every night.
As pretty as Arosa is (iconic log cabins line its roads and there’s a beautiful lake near the train station), you won’t want to leave Tschuggen when it comes to eating. There are five restaurants ranging from Michelin-starred La Vetta to the aforementioned family-friendly Basement, where a game of ten-pin after your gourmet burger is encouraged. Try the latter’s Swiss-style fish ’n’ chips, delicate perch fillets from Lake Constance fried in a light, tempura-like batter.
But by far the most exciting place to eat is at The Igloo Village – literally an icy igloo built just outside the hotel’s main entrance, with tables, chairs, red-nosed waiters and plenty of rugs inside. Of course you have to wear everything you own and master the art of eating with gloves on, but it’s a wonderfully surreal experience and the food is good too. Start with ‘grisons salsiz’ (local cured sausages) and pickled pumpkin, then dive into cheese fondue made from Alp cheese (produced in summer with milk from cows that graze on Alpine pastures), garlic, white wine, kirsch and, if you want them, fresh truffle and Champagne.
For lunch on the slopes, try the Alpenblick restaurant – a cosy, chalet-style pit stop with huge open grill and long, chunky wooden tables. Choose a giant rösti with creamy mushroom ragu, or pick your meat (including a local veal sausage) and watch it cook on the spit in front of you.
Swiss wine is enjoying a resurgence at present and we happily drank nothing but it in the hotel – a light and mineral Pinot Gris was the perfect match for our igloo fondue. Other than that, it’s all about schnapps; here they put it in fondue, enjoy a glass after dinner or add it to their coffee. Our favourite way to take it was in a fun-to-pronounce ‘Schümli Pflümli’ coffee made with sugar, plum schnapps and whipped cream.
There are nine types of room to choose from, but even the most modest option includes a granite bathroom, rainforest shower and Swiss-made bed. The suites are extravagant to the extreme: expect hand-painted wallpaper, designer furniture, sun loggias, two bathrooms (and as many televisions) in each suite, the largest of which – the Tschuggen – is bigger than the average British home, at 150 square metres.
Breakfast is enormous – it has to be, given how much energy you’ll expend on the slopes – and is taken in the Grand Restaurant. Options range from local cheeses to rye breads, fresh honey, smoked salmon, bircher museli, pancakes and local ‘birnenbrot’, a rich fruit bread made from pears and nuts.
The spa is beautiful, if only for the coloured glass sails on the roof that soak up sunshine and bathe all four floors in light. It’s actually been built into the mountain and is adorned inside with Alpine granite, Canadian maple wood and a long glass bridge that connects the spa and hotel – it’s a cosy experience, walking across it in your hotel robe while the snow falls outside.
Double rooms at Tschuggen Grand Hotel start from £424 b&b per night (tschuggen.ch). This includes access to the spa and use of the Tschuggen Express. Return flights from London Heathrow to Zurich cost from £71 one-way (swiss.com). More info: MySwitzerland.com
Written February 2016 by Charlotte Morgan
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