Switzerland has long had a reputation for ultra-luxury hotels and St. Moritz is no different. It was here that the first luxury hotel in the Alps was opened in the 19th century, giving birth to the Alpine winter tourism industry. The number of outstanding luxury hotels continued to grow in this erstwhile mountain village, and in 1913 the five-star Carlton Hotel St. Moritz became the fifth luxury hotel here. These five luxury hotels in St. Moritz are still known around the world as the "big five," but it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Carlton.
During the First World War, tourism floundered and the Carlton ended up hosting the Greek royal family in exile in St. Moritz. Eventually, the hotel became the property of the Schweizerische Volksbank. It took until the 1930s for the Carlton to enjoy a more prosperous period but the Second World War brought this time to an abrupt end, causing the hotel to close in 1939. After a brief reopening for the 1948 winter Olympics, the doors remained closed for another seven years until the Ernst family from Lucerne bought the hotel. The hotel’s fortunes initially improved, but ownership changed hands a number of times. Finally, in 1988, the Tschuggen Hotel Group, owned by the Kipp-Bechtolsheimer family, acquired the Carlton Hotel St. Moritz and invested significant funds to restore and renovate the illustrious property.
Indulge in a show-stopping helicopter ride over the Swiss Alps.
Swiss interior designer Carlo Rampazzi was tasked with a complete renovation of the hotel in 2006. The exterior appearance was faithfully restored, while inside, 60 spacious suites were created to be all south facing, with breathtaking views over the Lake of St. Moritz and the surrounding mountains. Rampazzi seized on a myth from the past that was circulated by one of the previous owners in an effort to draw in guests: that the hotel was initially planned as a summer residence of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, a scion of the famous Romanoff dynasty and grandson of Tsar Alexander II. Rampazzi’s design is inspired by the glittering heyday of Russian czardom, with details like a logo featuring a double-headed eagle and artwork depicting stylized versions of the jewelry and silverware of the czars. There’s even an entire suite devoted to Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, featuring Kandinsky-style paintings on the walls. The fairy tale goes that they were painted there by the artist after waking from an inspiring dream and not having any paper on hand. The room also has an easel with paints for guests to explore their own artistic abilities.
The hotel has a spacious sun terrace overlooking the lake, a lavish 12,900-square-foot spa that stretches over three floors, and two restaurants. One of them is Da Vittorio, a restaurant hailing from Italy. Run by brothers Enrico and Roberto Cerea, the restaurant is famous for its handmade pasta and tomato sauce prepared table-side and hand-filled bomboloni, among other specialties. And guests will need that nourishment after a long day of winter adventures. The Carlton offers several extraordinary experiences, including a day skiing or snowshoeing with the hotel’s outdoor butler, a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snowy countryside complete with hot chocolate and treats, and a show-stopping helicopter ride over the Swiss Alps. There are also several food-focused activities: a wine tasting in the fully stocked cellar, a romantic and private candlelit dinner for two, and a cooking master class with the chef from Da Vittorio.