The perfect Swiss Christmas
Christmas, it is clear to see, has captured and dominated the global festive imagination. However, few, if any, places on earth can offer a more idealised traditional Christmas than Switzerland. Sleigh bells ringing, hot chocolate and mulled wine, twinkling lights and a beautiful landscape carpeted in snow offer the best possible place to celebrate.
St Moritz has been the go-to destination for winter tourism for over 150 years. One of its Christmas highlights is the Olympia bobsleigh run, an exhilarating and magical experience, and there is every other possible permutation of winter sport available. When it is time to dial down the pace, the highly respected Engadin Symphony Orchestra puts on a set of concerts between Christmas and New Year. The Advent market in downtown St Moritz showcases exceptional local produce in a fairy tale setting.
An exceptional property near St Moritz is the ideal base for Yuletide exploration. Ca’ D’Alberto, a sleek, stylish luxury barn conversation in Grigioni, comfortably sleeps up to six people. The conversion was architect-led by Guido Moro. The fireplace is perfect for cosy carols and the coffee table is even made from a vintage sledge.
Chalet Le Rucher, Grimentz lies in one of the most dramatic Swiss mountain regions. The chalet has space for eight people across four pretty bedrooms. Its private steam room is an excellent place to detox and escape from Christmas indulgence.
The beautiful old village of Grimentz hosts a brilliant Christmas market in early December. In addition to international stalls full of gifts and delicious foodstuffs, there are concerts and events across a convivial weekend. The valley in which Grimentz is situated, Val D’Anniviers, has a splendid array of Christmas offerings, including a toboggan run, cross country skiing and winter hiking.
The Luxury Chalet Klosters in Graubunden is filled with light and history. With generous accommodation for eight people, it offers panoramic views of the ritzy Klosters ski resort from its south-facing balcony. The large, beautifully redecorated living and dining areas are perfect for Christmas entertaining and family meals.
The snow-powdered forests of Klosters set the scene for an attractive Christmas morning walk, while the village itself, sparkling under its remarkably starry sky, lays on an intimate array of Christmas dining and entertainment options.
This December around Klosters, nearby Davos opens a major new Christmas attraction, the Eisdream, which literally translates as “field of ice”. The original natural ice field is being ingeniously converted into an ice disco, racing field, cooking stations and a fun Kids Corner.
For those travelling through Zurich, the city hosts one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. Its highlight is an astonishing fifty foot tall Christmas tree made from Swarovski crystals.
This range of offerings far beyond the ski slopes, magnificent though they, plus great transport links, has secured Switzerland’s status as the perfect Christmas place from the nineteenth century onwards. While many of those traditional delights remain, the best Swiss chalets now also offer a previously undreamt of level of winter luxury.
By Phileas French, Travel Writer