Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. St Moritz

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. St Moritz

Article excerpt

Here's a tip: when travelling to St Moritz, it's best not to mention the name of your final destination to the airport porters, drivers or waiters that you encounter on your journey there. Such a slip, as I discovered, will only lead to disappointment when you come to leave a tip (however generous the amount may be).

Once the star of Switzerland's winter tourism, St Moritz is the original alpine resort, offering ski holidays to the super-rich since 1864. But in recent decades the town's sparkle has begun to fade, as it now has to compete with the likes of Klosters and Gstaad for the custom of royals, oligarchs and glitterati in the market for a champagne-fuelled snow break.

It has to be said that there aren't many signs of hardship on show in the town, which boasts more designer shops per square metre than fondue restaurants. In winter, the pricey restaurant chain Nobu opens a branch to ply visitors with black cod, while jetsetters work the hotel club circuit by night. However, if you can handle a week without these luxuries (and, granted, also minus the snow), the merits of an off-season stay during the summer, when the town is half-deserted, are plentiful -- not least of all for a view of the mountains which isn't obstructed by a sea of designer-clad Russians.

Getting there from Zurich, the preferred mode of transport for the very rich is private helicopter. Less exalted travellers have the option of arriving by European rail. My train offered something a sky ride couldn't: an impromptu concert from a throng of Swiss nationals en route to a yodelling festival, dressed in traditional dirndls. …

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