It had never really occurred to me to visit Switzerland in the Summer time. With memories of Winter wonderlands as I visited Swiss towns during ski trips when I was younger, I knew little about what the postcard-perfect country would have to offer during the warmer months.
The GoldenPass train journey between Geneva and Gstaad gave us the perfect introduction to Switzerland in the warmer months. Far more than just a journey from A to B, the route took us through some of the country’s most stunning scenery; the turquoise waters of lake Leman stretches for as far as the eye can see, surrounded by the impending mountains.
We flew through the valleys, whistling high above the lakes, past churches, tiny farm houses and chalets with logs neatly stacked high ready for the winter months. We stopped off for a glass of Prosecco to take in the view at Montreux, before boarding the Classic style GoldenPass up to Gstaad. The traditional wood panelled carriages with panoramic windows made the journey quite unlike any we’d ever been on before, and as the train heaved itself up into the resort of Gstaad, we soon realised that our stylish means of travelling was far from over.
Awaiting our arrival at the station was a very dapper looking driver, inviting us into the hotel’s gleaming 1962 Bentley. No sooner had we relaxed into the plush leather interiors (and quizzed the driver about the car’s previous owner; Roger Moore) before we pulled up to castle-like Le Grand Bellevue, our home for the next four days.
With the life-size tweed camel in the lobby, and Chesterfield sofas that span the entire length of the bar area, the first impressions of the hotel are that this place doesn’t compromise on fun and personality, while maintaining that five-star (and then some!) luxury that you’d expect. We were greeted by Daniel, the proud owner of the Grand Bellevue, who told us how he had spent the past two years completely refurbishing the hotel with his interior designer wife, after a career in high-end hospitality.
A see-through fireplace in the reception area leads through to a vast lounge area, where Bird-print wallpaper from east London’s House of Hackney, and hanging bird cage chairs creates an inviting atmosphere for guests wanting to unwind after a day on the slopes, or just exploring the stunning surroundings.
We were led up to the fifth floor of the hotel into the Etoile room, where the doors opened to reveal a beautiful open plan room, a huge king sized bed, and a chic grey toned bathroom complete with jacuzzi bath tub under panoramic windows and Bamford toiletries. We knew it would be hard to tear ourselves away from the room, but the charming window seat framed a view so perfect that it could almost have been a painting; the chocolate-box chalet buildings and majestic mountains beckoned us away from our new plush surroundings.
In the hotel’s beautiful grounds, guests can enjoy a game of croquet, or one of the hotel’s cocktail creations. The exclusive Gstaad Yacht Club is also on hotel grounds, beneath which is the hotel spa with it’s Finnish outdoor sauna, herb sauna, salt sauna (this place has a lot of saunas) to name but a few. We headed there to enjoy a bespoke meditation and massage treatment (heavenly) before some serious detoxing in the therapeutic Turkish Steam Bath.
The hotel is just moments walk from Gstaad’s designer boutique-lined promenade, where people watching is almost as much fun (and most definitely cheaper) as exploring the designer chalets. With Louis Vuitton, Hublot, Prada and Ralph Lauren to name but a few, this ski resort town is quite unlike any other.
Charlie and I refrained from frittering away our savings by taking to the hills to make the most of the fresh air and tranquility of the beautiful surroundings, taking cable car trips up to the peaks, before refuelling on traditional cheese fondue back at the hotel’s Petite Chalet, but more on that tomorrow!
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