Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Carlton hotel, St Moritz

30 Jan 2013 by Tom Otley
Carlton-st-moritz

BACKGROUND

The Carlton has a long history, dating back to a time when most European towns and cities seemed to have had both a Carlton and Bristol hotel to attract British travellers. Built in 1913, it has had untold millions spent on it before reopening in 2007 as part of the Tschuggen Hotel Group. Note that it is presently open only for the winter season from mid-December to April 1.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

A five-star luxury hotel in the winter playground of the jet set, St Moritz. The refurbishment reduced the number of rooms from 105 to 60, and so the hotel never feels busy or crowded. But even with a maximum of 120 guests, it’s pretty impressive that staff will remember your name and can ask how your day has been in several languages as you return from the slopes or a shopping trip in St Moritz.

The giant staircase in reception is a definite throwback to an earlier era, though having a drive large enough for the turning circle of a Maybach, as it was described to me, certainly gives an impression of the sort of guests staying now. The aim is for a club-like atmosphere, and it works, with a high proportion of return visitors – the breakdown of guests is Swiss first, then German, British, Russian and Middle Eastern.

WHERE IS IT?

A five-minute walk down a hillside path into the centre of St Moritz, the resort is at an altitude of 1,850 metres, with 322 sunny days a year. It’s four hours by train from Zurich airport, or three by car (the super-rich arrive by private plane).

ROOM FACILITIES

The hotel is now all-suite (with six different categories), all with stunning views along the valley over the frozen (in winter) Lake Moritz and the Engadin Mountains. More than half of the rooms also have balconies – useful if you are a smoker or like fresh air. Designed by Switzerland’s Carlo Rampazzi, they are stylish in a traditional way. They start at 35 sqm and range up to 160 sqm, while the 386 sqm Penthouse is on the top floor. All have tea-making facilities and a Nespresso machine, free wifi, a free minibar stocked with water and alcoholic drinks, flatscreen Philips TVs, and marble bathrooms with Molton Brown amenities. A free shuttle into town and to the slopes is included (you can’t ski in and out from the hotel).

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The hotel is at pains to explain it is not designed with rich Russians in mind – but calling the fine-dining restaurant Romanoff does cause doubts. The food is high-cuisine – dishes include shrimp and octopus skewer, champagne spume, bacon and bramata polenta (SFr 54/£36) and Swiss prime lamb chops with garlic confit, beans and risotto Provençal (SFr 58/£39). Da Vittorio is the hotel’s new Italian restaurant headed up by three-Michelin-starred brothers Enrico and Roberto Cerea. The Carlton bar and lobby is lovely – the original huge old fireplaces, wooden floors and chandeliers remain, while the furnishings have been updated. You can sit on the balcony in the sun, covered in a blanket, and have waiters ferry food and drink to you while you watch the jets of oligarchs land at the nearby airport.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The 310 sqm Empire ballroom overlooks the lake and mountains and has kept detailing from the past century. There’s also a 45 sqm boardroom.

LEISURE FACILITIES

The Carlton ski shop below the hotel takes all the hassle out of being fitted for skis and boots, and for families there is both a kids’ and teens’ club. Also accessed on this floor is the stunning 1,200 sqm three-floor spa, featuring a wet area with Bisazza mosaics, a swimming pool, saunas, a caldarium with steam baths, a private spa suite, six treatment rooms and products from Sensei Comfort Zone, OPI and La Biosthétique.

VERDICT

A superb hotel and resort with a luxurious yet friendly feel.

Fact File

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 60 suites.
  • HIGHLIGHTS The free wifi and minibar (including alcohol), and the views of Lake Moritz and the Engadin Mountains. Also, the sense that the hotel is a club where the staff know your name and are welcoming you back, which for a lot of guests is the case.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a two-night weekend stay in March started from SFr 1,600 (£1,088) for a Junior suite.
  • CONTACT 11 Via Johannes Badrutt,  tel +41 818 367 000; tschuggenhotelgroup.ch
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