Fours years ago, I fell in love with skiing, a sport that never fails to make me feel energised and happy, especially on beautiful sunny days. I try to go back to the slopes every year and to visit a new resort each time. I skied in Austria, France, Italy and most recently in Gstaad, an internationally renowned ski resort in Switzerland and one of the largest ski areas in the Alps.
The valley of Gstaad is formed by ten villages in the Canton of Berne, south-west Switzerland. They are all equally charming and serviced with top hotels, restaurants and direct links to the slopes.
Gstaad is the most famous of them all: a picturesque German-speaking town with a traffic-free main street dotted with gingerbread-style wooden houses and inviting restaurants and cafés.
With its fairytale architecture and dreamy landscape, Gstaad has been a favourite holiday destination for the high society and the international jet-set for over a century. It’s impossible not to notice the fashion boutiques, jewellery shops and luxury hotels in the old town.
For the ever-romantics, Gstaad offers horse-carriage rides around town. We went on a night ride around Lake Lauenen, wrapped up in blankets and with our heads up to gaze at the clear starry sky. It was freezing, I won’t lie, but so beautiful!
The Best Winter Activities in Gstaad
I was in Gstaad for a press trip organised by the tourism board. We had just four days to explore the surrondings, but we made the most of our time with a jam-packed itinerary that included skiing, tobogganing and a glacier adventure.
The skiing in the area of Saanenmöser was fantastic! The private instructors at Alpin Zentrum Gstaad guided us around the resort and helped me refresh my muscle memory after twelve months without putting skis on.
We started off from the village of Saanen and went up the mountain on the new state-of-the-art Saanersloch cable car (D-Line), which features a glass panoramic roof that is the first of its kind anywhere.
You can get off at the middle station for a long and easy blue run down or go up to the top to connect to the rest of the ski area. With one lift pass you will access 12 ski areas and 200 kilometres of piste.
If you don’t have your own gear, I recommend renting it from the InterSport in Saanenmöser, conveniently located less than five minutes walk to the cable car. You really don’t want to walk too far when you’ve got your ski boots on and your skis and sticks are on your shoulders!
The weather conditions in Gstaad at the end of January were absolutely perfect: fresh snow, clear sky without too much wind. I wished that first day never to end!On a few occasions, we were the only people skiing and it was blissful!
The unspoiled Alpine landscape of Gstaad is truly one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
Skiing and snowboarding are the number one winter activities to do in the Gstaad valley, but not the only ones. There’s cross-country skiing, winter hiking, tobogganing, snowshoe walking, ice climbing, heli skiing and much more.
One of the top activities to do in Gstaad is the Glacier 3000 adventure. From the top of Gstaad’s glacier you can see 24 summits over 4,000 metres, including Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the Bernese Alps. Stop at Restaurant Botta or Refuge l’Espace for a good meal and stunning panoramic views.
I had my first go at tobogganing in Gstaad and it was great fun! The new Saanersloch Run, Hornberg Run and Horneggli Run in the Saanenmöser and Schönried ski resorts are perfect to give this sport a try.
Where To Stay
Park Gstaad Hotel
Gstaad is known for having not one, not two, but five stars hotels in town! I was invited on a complimentary stay at Park Gstaad, part of Leading Hotels of The World (I previously reviewed The Gainsborough, Grand Hotel Barrière and Gran Melia Rome).
Park Gstaad is not only beautiful and luxurious, but also commendable for its commitment to sustainability and wellbeing. There is a fitness centre packed with cardio and resistance equipment and free weights and a 1,000 sqm spa with indoor and outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna, steam and treatment rooms.
There are 84 rooms and 10 suites, all fully renovated in 2010 by acclaimed Interior Designer Federica Palacios.Park Gstaad interiors showcase a perfect blend of contemporary design and traditional Swiss charm. The hotel is elegant, cosy, comfortable, welcoming and it smells amazing, something I never really noticed about any other hotel before!
My room was very spacious with a comfortable double bed, state of the art facilities and a living room with a view of the forest.
The bathroom was styled in elegant black granite and fitted with a stand-alone bath, a separate shower and twin basins. I also loved the Aromatherapy bathroom amenities!
There are four restaurants to choose from at Park Gstaad, ranging from traditional Swiss to Japanese and Argentinian. Perfect for those evenings you are too tired and don’t want to leave the hotel!
An abundant breakfast buffet is served every day in the main restaurant on the first floor. There’s a great variety of continental food and à la carte breakfast dishes as well as healthy options and fresh juices to appease the varied hotel clientele.
Where to Eat
When I’m out skiing, I usually stop for a quick lunch in one of the many chalets on the slopes. If you want to try something out of the ordinary, I recommend the Iglu-dorf for a glass of mulled wine and a cheese fondue. The hotel, bar & restaurant is located near the Saanersloch cable car top station.
For a coffee break or casual lunch in Gstaad, I can recommend the recently opened Bro’s Gstaad café or Charly’s Tea Room, one of the most popular spots to hang out in town.
For the best local pastries and Swiss hot chocolate, go to Earlybeck bakery in the old town.
The choices for eating out in Gstaad or in the nearby villages are plenty. For a hearty and traditional Swiss meal, I recommend the restaurants at Ermitage Hotel and Hotel Kernen in Schönried or 16 Art Bar-Restaurant in Saanen.
How To Get There
We flew from London Heathrow to Geneva airport with Swiss Air, then travelled to Gstaad on a vintage-style GoldenPass train (via Montreux, about 2 hours). It was a bit of a long journey overall, but the dramatic views of Lake Geneva from the train certainly made our journey more enjoyable. Alternatively, you can hire a car from Geneva airport, get a taxi or even travel by helicopter!
I am very grateful to have had this chance to ski in Gstaad, surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes and villages imaginable. I highly recommend it as a destination for your next holiday!
I hope to return to Gstaad soon for more winter fun or in the summer to hike in the verdant Swiss mountains.
Disclaimer: I visited Gstaad as part of a press trip organised by the tourism board. All opinions are my own.