VISITING GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND
There's no denying that I have countless places on my bucket list to visit and even though I keep ticking ones off, somehow it always magically grows in length rather than shortens. One of the destinations on said bucket list had long been Gstaad - the fairytale like resort nestled in the Swiss Alps.
So you can imagine my excitement the moment I received a very special email inviting me on a little 3-day trip to stay at the grandest of grand hotels, the beautiful Gstaad Palace. Playing it cool, I took maybe a whole hour or two to respond and literally counted down the days until I was packing my bags for the airport.
After a super quick flight from Gatwick to Geneva, we found ourselves hopping on the train (it takes two trains to get to Gstaad), circling the lake and zooming through the Swiss hills, admiring the breathtaking mountains, cute villages and Wes Anderson-esque architechure that filled the windows as we went. Five or so hours later, we found ourselves at the picturesque Gstaad train station located in the heart of the village, with our carriage awaiting to take us up the hill to our palacial abode for the next few days.
G S T A A D P A L A C E
One of the most famous and prestigious hotels in Gstaad, family owned and operated Gstaad Palace is over 105 years old and has had the who's who of royalty and stardom grace through its doors (Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, Julie Andrews, Roger Moore - to name a mere few!). From the moment you enter the hotel, you feel you're somewhere special - luxurious and elegant but thankfully, without even a smidge of snobbery present (because sadly, I don't own a tiara - yet).
It's a 5-star hotel that's steeped in history and it was fascinating to hear little snippets as we were given a tour around the Palace learning such things like how the space now home to La Fromagerie, the hotel's rustic Swiss restaurant, was used to house the country's gold during WWII or how the hotel's night club Green Go is frequented by many a Hollywood star (Madonna, we're looking at you).
It's impossible not to feel instantly at home in Gstaad Palace: it's comfortable, very comfortable. Staff are obliging and nothing is too much for them to arrange (I'm sure they will have had quite the requests over the years!). There's also numerous places to get fed and watered within the grounds, making it rather difficult to ever leave. From the fancy, dress-coded Le Grill to the more relaxed but equally special Gildo's Ristorante (which is where we ate our weight in souffle), there is plenty of choice so you'll never have a rumbling stomach during your stay!
If, like me, you're ready to book a week-long jaunt immediately, I'm afraid you'll have to wait till summer. The hotel closes its door to allow staff to relax after a busy winter season and re-opens this year from June 23rd - September 9th. Then, the next winter season will begin on December 21st and finish March 10th 2019.
For more information, details on the Palace and how to book - click here.
T H E R O O M S
The hotel has 95 rooms and suites in total. I was lucky enough to be staying in one of the Double Deluxe rooms with balcony views overlooking the breathtaking Swiss Alps. Completely spacious, alpine cosy with a huge bed that was wasted on just me, the room was the perfect place to retreat to after a long day. Not pictured (because my carry-on and I didn't have any use for it) was the huge walk-in wardrobe attached to the room and a beautiful (but not easy to photograph) bathroom fitted with a double-sink situ, walk-in shower and bath. Oh and plenty of Molton Brown toiletries which I thoroughly appreciated.
We also had the chance to have a nosey at some of the hotel's tower suites which were huge to say the least - to put it in perspective, I got lost trying to find the door which I came into the suite from! As with the rest of the hotel, the suites were timeless and elegant whilst remaining totally comfortable with plenty of beds/chairs/sofas to throw yourself down on after a long day of being ridiculously fabulous.
T H E S P A
Staying at Gstaad Palace means you've already opted for the indulgent life, so why not raise the bar that bit higher by treating yourself to a day at the Palace Spa?
An impressive oasis to say the least, it's the ultimate place in Gstaad to relax, unwind and forget about the world in. Eight treatment rooms, saunas, steam baths, relaxation areas with burning fires, indoor & outdoor pools, a gym, hamman experience area as well as an Olympic outdoor swimming pool open in summer time. It has it all there, ready for you to blitz yourself with pampering... because all this luxury really is quite stressful to handle at times, you know. I enjoyed one of the hotel's signature massages - using local Jardin des Monts products and complete with wooden rollers - leaving me feeling my most zenned out and a little bit lighter, thanks to those knots in my shoulders being unravelled - bliss!
Access to the Palace Spa is available to all guests for free but there is a day charge for non-guests wishing to use the facilities. Visit the spa website here.
G L A C I E R 3 0 0 0
The chances are that if you're visiting Gstaad during the winter season, then you'll be wanting some snow action. In that case, Glacier 3000 is just the spot for you!
On our first full day in Gstaad, we enjoyed a trip way up the mountain to the summit station Glacier 3000. The cable car rides up were adventures alone in themselves and not for those afraid of heights, that's for sure! Once at the top, we braved steps onto the Peak Walk by Tissot - the world's first suspension footbridge spanning two summits (GULP) - and the slightly less adrenaline pumping activity of hot chocolate and lunch at Botta restaurant.
Though we weren't there to ski, we had some time to enjoy the snow so Jacinta, Phoebe and I decided to brave the chill and go sledging down the slopes. Utterly ungraceful (me) and embarrassing (also me), we had the most fun face planting (ok, just me) into the snow and being completely covered in it from head to toe.
Don't believe me? Just check out this photo!
H O R S E D R A W N C A R R I A G E T O D I N N E R
I always think it's nice to venture out of the hotel for an evening meal and nothing was more magical than our Friday night spent in Gstaad. Picked up in a horse-drawn carriage and covered in blankets, we made our way through the snow and picturesque landscape only to found ourselves at someone's house-turned-restaurant for a delicious meal of fondue, fondue and more fondue!
Impressively, we got through an obscene amount of cheese between the group and not one of us felt remotely guilty about it. When in Gstaad after all!
E X P L O R I N G G S T A A D
No trip to Gstaad is complete without a visit to the village. A momentary car ride from the hotel or alternatively, you can walk down an easy path right from the hotel to the main street. Once there, I guarantee you'll fall in love and may or may not spend more than you bargained for. Because unlike any normal village, Gstaad is a village for the rich and richer. The likes of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and Hermes all have the most perfect picturesque stores in Gstaad and even if you can't afford to step foot in them, just being able to wander the street admiring them from afar is a treat in itself. What might be a more affordable option for something to do in the village is head to the cafe and chocolate shop opposite the entrance, order tonnes of food and sweet treats and watch as Gstaad life goes by.
You're guaranteed to see plenty of dressed up dogs and horse drawn carriages- what more do you need?
Thank you to Gstaad Palace for having me as your guest. As always, words are my own and mine alone!