Luxury in the Alps
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As you approach the majestic Grand Hotel Kronenhof, you could be mistaken for entering the set of The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's a 5-star superior hotel that delivers on the wow factor even from a distance.
Except you are not in Budapest, but in the scenic, tranquil alpine escape that is Pontresina. Think neighbouring St Moritz but without the Prada shop pretensions. This is a mountain village lined with iconic Belle Epoque hotels and authentic Engadine stone houses with ornate facades.
This grande dame of Engadine hotels is the heart and soul of the village and has been welcoming guests since 1848. The personalised service means they've been getting repeat guests for decades; some came as children and then returned with their children. They've had an extensive renovation in 2021 with the award-winning French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. The reception, lobby lounge, bar and reading room have all been rejuvenated to tranquil shades of blue that reflect the Engadine sky during various times of the day. You have to applaud their attention to every minutia as even the coffee table books are in hues of blue. The focal point here isn't the regal chandelier or the antique furniture, it's the lush majestic mountains of the Engadine Alps that take centre stage through the almost floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
There is no such thing as a bad room or suite at Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Even standard rooms offer a vista into the St. Moritz mountain range or the immaculately manicured forecourt. All their rates include the half-board package (more on the dining options later) and access to their world-renowned 2,000 sq m Kronenhof Spa and the fitness centre. Some rooms have been completely redesigned by Pierre-Yves Rochon. The rooms deliver on understated elegance and generally have a clear muted colour palette, which doesn't detract from the Alpine scenery which is why most tourist travel to this region. The rooms are particularly family-friendly, as most rooms can be interconnected and the price includes the use of the natural ice skate rink in the winter and tennis courts in the summer.
The luxury bathrooms include double vanities with polished, pristine marble tiling. The well-sized sunken bathtub offers views into the bedroom space and hence also to the natural surroundings. Luxury amenities with plush bathrobes are a given at such an esteemed establishment. Whilst a pillow menu is on offer to ensure any jetlag is tackled with consummate ease. Most junior suites have a balcony or terrace space and most visitors prefer to sit outdoors to absorb the magnificent scenery.
A star attraction of Grand Hotel Kronenhof is the guest's dining experience. Their 'casual dining' restaurant is actually in the regal Grand Restaurant, which used to be the hotel's ballroom. The evening dinner is included as part of your booking but given the historic surroundings, you won't be surprised to find a jacket is required. The ceiling frescoes captivatingly depict the four seasons in the local area. The ceiling has been painstakingly cleaned and restored in recent times, but they have left a small darkened square in one part to show what it looked like back in the times when smoking was still allowed indoors. The daily changing menu embraces Swiss classics as well as international offerings but also focuses on using local produce. They have a particularly strong focus on dietary requirements and offer a completely separate vegetarian menu.
They also offer a fine dining experience at Kronenstübli, even though the dress code is noticeably more relaxed than in the main dining hall. The culinary masterpieces here have that additional je ne sais quoi. The exquisite red prawn tartare is from Mazara del Vallo, where the finest Sicilian red prawns are from. For a showstopping experience, you must order the French classic that is "Duck Rouen style" which is duck 2-ways for a minimum of 2 people and includes the Rouen duck served with Champagne cabbage, potato dumplings and wild figs in Port wine.
There is a multitude of activities to partake in at the hotel. Chief among them is getting a massage treatment at their spa. The signature 5 senses massage is highly recommended. It stimulates all 5 senses based on the 5 elements. You have to pick an element, which is assigned with a colour and an associated aromatic essence. Being in the Swiss Alps, it was unsurprising that I went for the wood element which involved aromas of Swiss pine; it was a harmonising massage. Beyond that, the spa will keep you busy with a heated swimming pool, Finnish sauna, saltwater grotto and steam room and plenty more.
The hotel itself is a walking museum with a bowling alley that dates back to the 1930s, a cigar room that recalls the Sean Connery James Bond era and the original reception area of the hotel back in the 19th century (a much smaller structure to the left as you pass the gated entrance) has been well-maintained. The hotel staff will happily take you on a guided tour of the hotel.
Skiing is undoubtedly a key attraction to visiting this region but it is genuinely an all-year-round destination. They have jaw-dropping picturesque hiking trails which cater to all levels of expertise, even for people like myself who are acrophobic. Autumn is a particularly great time to visit with the region being less crowded with tourists and you can observe the autumnal changes in the alpine forest.
Grand Hotel Kronenhof
Via Maistra 130
7504 Pontresina / St. Moritz · Schweiz
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