If you’re thinking Europe this winter, what could be more straight-out-of-a-storybook than a palace in the Swiss Alps? At the Gstaad Palace, Alpine sports, modern entertainment, and mountain views combine for the ultimate winter escape.
Deep in the Bernese Alps – two train changes and three beautiful hours west of Zurich – the 103-year-old Gstaad Palace juts out above the Swiss town’s characteristic chalets. Built in the style of Bavaria’s great castles, the Palace is a classic. Long, crimson-carpeted halls lead into a lobby flanked with stone pillars, where the vast, painted ceiling depicts Switzerland’s 26 cantons and their decorative seals. Upstairs, rooms and suites boast new furnishings and amenities but the same iconic Swiss views of stray chalets and long shadows on the mountains.
Once you’ve adventured among the Alps and snapped photos of the painted wooden façades in town, there’s plenty to do back at the Palace. Warm up at the spa with a steam bath and some time by the fire in the relaxation room, or go out while staying in at GreenGo, the Palace’s on-site, retro nightclub.
The most impressive thing about the Palace (besides those Alpine views) is its dining scene. At the venerable Le Grand Restaurant, slick waiters serve haute cuisine, and, in the lobby, the bar stirs up superb cocktails, enhanced by a wall of windows overlooking a Gstaad that’s bathed in golden light. Open only in winter, La Fromagerie serves some of the most authentic fondue you’ll ever have (it is Switzerland after all), plus a Champagne-and-truffle version. Originally built as a Swiss gold vault during World War II, you’ll still have to walk through the fortified steel door to sit at its rustic tables.
Once you’ve had your fill of wining and dining at the Palace, get out and explore the Alps. Try your hand at snow golf, winter yoga, and dogsledding. Or, stick with something more familiar, like skiing, winter hiking, and ice skating. Feel like a winter picnic? The Palace’s snow butler will deliver one to you while you’re out on the slopes.
Dec: 35°F & 18°F
Jan: 34°F & 16°F
Feb: 38°F & 18°F
Mar: 43°F & 22°F
Dec: 17.8 inches
Jan: 19.7 inches
Feb: 28 inches
Mar: 5.3 inches
Prices start at $503; www.palace.ch