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Sitting at the entrance of St. Moritz Dorf, the so-called Palace (all locals drop the Badrutt’s) is a massive building with turrets and a large tower that serves as an iconic landmark of this famous resort town. It was opened in 1896 by Kasper Badrutt (the son of Johannes, who opened the Kulm as St. Moritz’s first hotel in 1856) and remains in the Badrutt family to this day, though longtime managing director Hans Wiedemann is slated to take it over from the aging owners.
The Palace is the buzziest, most jetset of the St. Moritz hotel scene, as is displayed in the lobby lounge, which is packed tight with tables and cushy armchairs, and is known locally as St. Moritz’s living room. This is the address for those who want to flaunt their newest purchases, be they fur-clad Tom Ford boots or bejeweled Bogner ski suits. It’s no surprise that the hallways are often referred to as the catwalks St. Moritz.
Considering the hotel’s gilded reputation, it is perhaps surprising that the staff could not be friendlier, creating an atmosphere of warmth and generosity. The views of Lake St. Moritz are stunning, not only from the lobby lounge but also from the many other common spaces and from more than half the rooms that face the toward the valley. There are 155 in total spread across eight stories and featuring a classic or more modern design scheme. Even the more updated rooms, completed by Champalimaud Design in 2021, feel traditional and understated, with muted color palettes, upholstered headboards, plush carpets and polished antique. Bathrooms are clad in Italian marble and most have separate tubs and showers. Some rooms and most of the suites come with balconies and gorgeous views across Lake St. Moritz or towards Corviglia ski area.
The Palace occupies six acres, so the list of hotel amenities is long: of the six restaurants, the local, cozy Chesa Veglia Italian eatery is beloved and one of the hardest reservations to get during peak seasons. Matsuhisa@Badrutt’s, opened in the 2014/15 season in the former tennis hall of the hotel, has a cool design with colorful leather seating areas and a groovy lounge area. The hotel has three other restaurants on the premises and a night club, King’s Social Club, which—before transitioning to the best dance party in town—offers sophisticated small plates like ceviche and beef tartare to match its wine and cocktail offerings. And on the slopes, Badrutt’s operates El Paradiso.
The huge spa is lovely, as is the large indoor-outdoor pool that faces the lake. Adjacent to the pool and wellness area is the extensive (and complimentary) Kid’s Club. Located at the beginning of town, the Palace is not ski in/ski out, but arranges for easy transfer to the nearby funicular that takes skiers up to Corviglia. The hotel shares a ski locker at the top with the St. Moritz ski school, so Palace guests can comfortably change up there.
Even in the high-end hotel scene of St. Moritz, the Carlton stands a bit apart – literally. The imposing 1912 building, with an instantly recognizable, light-mint-green façade, rises on a hillside just outside the town center. (It’s about a seven-minute walk.) A massive renovation in 2007 turned the venerable property into an all-suites showstopper – rooms here are among the largest, and all have coveted views of Lake St. Moritz and beyond.
Unlike many of its competitors, whose décor stays safely in the classic realm, the Carlton takes a chance on infusing its traditional air with more whimsical, modern touches in the 60 suites and common areas. Swiss interior designer Carlo Rampazzi is a fan of dramatic leather- or fabric-studded headboards, antique furniture covered in contemporary, poppy textiles, and eye-catching, striped hallways in bright colors. Connecting room doors are masked by fabric sliding panels decorated with large prints; closets are covered with different types of wood, creating a modern-day trompe l’oil; and sumptuous Berluti leather embellish some of the contemporary furniture. The color schemes vary from Champagne and golden to pink, mauve or crimson red, but nothing is overdone: interior are contemporary with just the right mix of designer-chic and Alpine comfort. The Carlton has been a favorite of royals and dignitaries during its more than a century-old legacy, and touches of its gilded past are everywhere; in one room, there is a safe belonging to the former owner, German billionaire Mr. Karl-Heinz Kipp, that has not be opened since his death (he refused to share the passcode with anyone, not even his wife).
Another plus of staying at this property is the three-story spa and wellness area, which is one of St. Moritz’s best. There’s a large indoor/outdoor pool, as well as sauna, steam bath, caldarium, a Finnish sauna and several smaller, beautifully designed relaxation rooms, all with views of the valley. More active guests will appreciate the large ski shop on the premises, and the complimentary shuttle service to the Corviglia mountain (the Carlton is not a ski in/ski out property).
There are two restaurants on the premises, including the Michelin-starred Italian Da Vittorio, headed by a team of brothers from Lombardi. It makes for a very special night out or, even better, a leisurely lunch with views of the lake and valley. Restaurant Romanoff is a nod to the hotel's popularity with the Russian royals, and presents a lavish dining experience in an old-school dining room. Another must is an après drink on the terrace or in the sweeping lounge with two molded fireplaces and soaring picture windows – a place where the property’s storied past can still be felt and seen in the details and the old-school service.