Wowed by grande dame of the Swiss Alps

Alex Deane
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A beautiful two-hour train ride from Zurich brings one to the alpine town of Pontresina, near the more famous (and more developed) St Moritz. The Kronenhof’s remarkably attractive, traditional façade takes pride of place in the main street – and it’s met with suitably matching luxury interiors, splendid service and all the things that make a stay in a Swiss luxury hotel truly divine.

Entering the neo-baroque lobby, guests are met with a pleasing blend of the natural and the tended: the breath-taking beauty in the distance and the traditional, finely-hewn hotel style. This is one of the best preserved grand hotels of the 19th century, and even now none of that aura has been lost.

In the lobby, the piano is played (well) in the afternoon, and guests can enjoy tea and cake. A proper, welcoming bar, a gourmet restaurant, a newspaper reading room (with requisite open fire crackling away), and several other beautiful public rooms set the tone for the purpose of this hotel: true, unimpeded relaxation.

If said relaxation can’t be found simply by enjoying the splendid panoramic views of the perpetually snow-capped Swiss mountains (the Corviglia and Roseg Valley glaciers in distance), or by relaxing with a glass of wine and a cigar at the Pavilion Restaurant (which in winter is the forecourt to the hotel’s own ice skating rink), then it certainly will be found in the Kronenhof Spa.

With panoramic, almost overwhelmingly beautiful views of the mountains, the Spa and Wellness suite almost forces you to unwind. With a large pool, a children’s pool (but – during our stay, anyway – mercifully few children), steam pool, floating grotto, salt water grotto, sauna, footbaths, solarium, fitness room and gym, you will quickly find your ease.

Treatments are given by an experienced team of wellness specialists and therapists. The larger pool in the facility is rounded off by floor-to-ceiling windows which cradle a view so awe- inspiring that it fills you with a desire to conquer mountains – metaphorical or physical. The spa is a new addition to the main building, but is has been built with sufficient sensitivity not to jar with the main hotel.

And so with the relaxing well underway, the exploration of the real mountains begins. In summer, the hotel will supply lift passes to take the chair lifts, while in winter guests can ski in the splendour of the Engadine valley. The hotel can also supply an Audi A3 convertible which will make you feel right at home on a visit to glitzier St Moritz – and it hugs the winding road down through the mountains, too.

The rooms exhibit traditional Swiss handicraft, emphasising use of natural timbers. Our room, part of a 1997 development of the hotel which included the addition of the spa, had a granite bathroom with double bath, separate shower, separate sitting area and patio. Blankets for use on the patio are provided so that guests can enjoy the restorative Swiss mountain air throughout the year. With 350 km of groomed runs within easy reach of the hotel, this is a spectacular winter destination.

A stay at the Kronenhof must be accompanied by a visit to the Kronenstubli, the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, where delicate and delightful meals can be enjoyed. Service at the restaurant is exceptional, as is the cellar. The food does not disappoint – the menu is regularly rotated and the food stands up very well to comparison with top-end London cuisine. Like the rooms, it’s a little pricey, but some of that’s to do with the still-crazily priced Franc, which is no fault of this first class hotel.

Double rooms from around £500 in high season.