LE GRAND BELLEVUE GSTAAD
Lysanne Currie discovers old-world elegance with modern chic in beautiful Alpine hotel Le Grand Bellevue, set amid the jetsetting paradise of Gstaad
There’s a life-sized tweed camel in the lobby of Le Grand Bellevue. But don’t assume this five-star hotel doesn’t take the business of hospitality seriously. Nominated for Condé Nast Traveller’s 2018 Gold List, this golden-hued marvel is among the world’s most fabulous Alpine retreats.
Surrounded by acres of ski slopes, the Bellevue sits amid the snowy splendour of Gstaad, the so-called ‘St Tropez of the Mountains’, where the promenade is lined with designer boutiques and the mountains are dotted with film star’s chalets. A home from home for the jet-setting, mahogany-tanned super-rich, it’s not unusual to find yourself seated beside sometime-resident Julie Andrews at lunch, or to pass Madonna or Bernie Ecclestone on the slopes. The Eagle Ski Club lives here too, where a three-year-waiting list and £25,000 might grant you access to what is probably the most exclusive private members’ restaurant on the planet – if you’re lucky.
Here’s where the likes of Burton and Taylor once clinked glasses with Peter Sellers, David Niven and Sir Roger Moore – and if arriving in Gstaad by train, via the Golden Pass railway from Montreux, don’t be surprised if you’re chauffeured directly to the Bellevue in the latter’s own 1962 Bentley; alighting not shaken after your journey, but possibly rather stirred.
Originally built in 1912 as a spa, the oldest palace hotel in the region was reopened in the winter of 2013 by its current owners Daniel Koetser and his interior designer wife Davia, who originally met one another at the Bellevue and spent their honeymoon night here. It obviously left a big impression on the couple, for in true-romantic fashion they later returned to completely revamp it. The result is a coolly luxurious and beautiful building, inside and out, offering guests the feeling they’re being welcomed in and cocooned.
From its 56-foot-long George Smith Chesterfield sofa in the art-deco-style bar, to its House of Hackney bird print wallpaper and huge birdcage hanging chairs, it’s both relaxed and elegant: everything here has been carefully chosen to present a perfect balance of old and modern. The bespoke European furniture extends to the airy 57 rooms, which offer panoramic views of the peaks (often quiet, as only 30 percent of visitors come here to ski), or the picturesque cobbled streets below. Meanwhile, those checking into the top-floor Suite Etoile will enjoy one of the loveliest views of all, courtesy of the giant ensuite bathroom’s glass roof, through which guests can gaze upon the twinkling stars.
Food-wise, the Michelin-starred bistro Leonard’s includes black-lobster taglierini and schnitzel on its menu; there’s traditional fondue to be had Le Petit Chalet; and the Sushi Bar serves up as many sashimi plates and maki rolls as you can eat. Beyond the hotel’s three restaurant (and the bar, with its exquisite cocktails and range of hot-chocolates), the village offers local culinary delights galore, from Charly’s tearoom, with its flaky plum pie, to pastry shop Early Beck Boulanger Confiseur, a chocolate-lover’s dream. While the ubiquitous Swiss fondue may be located at Posthotel Rössli.
Also among the attractions is a very dark, very cool downstairs nightclub, and a great kids club, including wallpaper you can colour in. Undoubtedly, however, the jewel in the crown of the Bellevue is its world-class spa: a sprawling, subterranean chalet-style complex. One of the largest spas in Switzerland, entire days could be spent among its 17 interconnected hot and cold zones, with its Himalayan salt grottos, ice caves, hammams and spa garden. Just the thing after a hard day’s skiing in comparative solitude.
Le Grand Bellevue, Hauptstrasse, Gstaad, Switzerland (00 41 33 748 00 00)