7132 Hotel, Vals, Switzerland
What is the greatest luxury available to the privileged in the twenty first century? Limousine transport? First Class air travel or a private jet? Designer clothes? Exquisite jewellery or the best fine dining? At 7132 Hotel here in Vals, the team believe it is time. Time to relax, unwind, enjoy the view, take the waters. They also offer fine dining of course at Silver Restaurant, recently awarded its first Michelin star. There is also one of the most beautiful spas we have ever seen.
We will soon be making our second trip to Vals - the Swiss town with 1000 residents, 1000 sheep and 1000 hotel rooms. The town is small and relatively unknown to foreign tourists, thus it remains sleepy. In summer, the hills are perfect for strolling or more serious hiking whilst in winter, there is a small but perfectly formed ski resort and plenty of snow.
On our first trip, we stayed in the brand new Kengo Kuma Suite for just one night - this next time we will stay a little longer in one of the smaller cosy Kengo Kuma rooms.
Kengo Kuma Room
Although we stayed in the Kengo Kuma Suite we also asked to view a Kengo Kuma room for future stays. Although small, good use is made of space, as long as you are a couple (the shower is a glass box in the room). Walls and ceilings are clad in curved oak panels creating a warm, cosy atmosphere that is almost womb-like. The perfect hideaway from the cold Swiss winter! High quality Aesop toiletries and local Valser bottled water are provided to all guests.
A note of caution - some of the other room types at 7132 may not be to everyone's taste. For example, the Stucco Lustro rooms are very colourful with walls and ceiling of both bedroom and bathroom Arnica Yellow, Alprausch Red or Speedwell Blue.
As we were staying just one night, we chose to dine in Silver, the gourmet restaurant, which won a Michelin star just a week after we visited. Due to dietary requirements, we had an individually crafted six course menu with wine pairings agreed with the English Sommelier at each course. Her knowledge was incredible and she had sourced some very fine wines from a variety of small estates. Meanwhile, the poached char from just up the valley was superb in a surprising Shoyu Dashi jus. We were wowed by Bündner mountain potatoes with their waxy texture and earthy scent. Breton turbot, succulent local venison, grapefruit sorbet with barrel aged Negroni came and went in a blur of pleasure and conversation. Everything was fabulously presented and service was perfect.
We had breakfast in the casual Red restaurant - wow, what a wonderful spread from some of the best fresh fruits we have ever eaten, through the unique do-it-yourself muesli blender, local honeys, home made preserves (we took home two jars of the rhubarb jam), omelettes done to a T and the staff really understood the importance of the provenance of the food.
They know all about luxury at 7132. If you book into one of their new suites, the luxury experience begins when the hotel contacts you to arrange your complimentary transfer from anywhere within the borders of Switzerland. We chose to depart from Basel Airport and were delighted that the weather was perfect for our transfer by helicopter. Yes, you did read that right. A brand spanking new Airbus EC 130 T2, in jet black with the hotel logo discretely displayed on the doors. The journey started in the private jet terminal of the international airport and took just over an hour.
The views of the mountains and valleys were simply overwhelming, breathtaking. Our pilot was charming and aware of Mrs d2t's slight nerves at her first helicopter flight. The flight was over all too soon but we were then met at the airfield by a chauffeur driven Mercedes for the short drive into the village. The return trip was equally stunning, taking off from a grass heliport near the hotel. If weather is poor, helicopter transfers are not possible and a limousine is provided instead.
Kengo Kuma Suite
We were escorted upstairs for in-suite check-in, refusing the kind offer of the butler to unpack for us. As we watched the huge electrically operated floor-to-ceiling windows slowly open, we had to laugh at the quintessentially Swiss sounds of cowbells and alpenhorns playing across the valley. It was a simply unbelievably beautiful scene which improved further when the room service trolley arrived a few moments later with complimentary vintage Pol Roger Champagne accompanied by canapés tailored to our special dietary requirements.
As you would expect, the suite included every conceivable convenience from fluffy gowns and slippers perfect for schlepping around the spa in, in-room safe large enough for three laptops, cameras and all the usual essential stuff we cart around with us. A huge wet-room style shower with Aesop toiletries, twin washstands, top of the range Toto Washlet toilet, massive comfy sofas, wonderful flower displays, two iPads (one for surfing the internet, the other controls the room!). The electrically operated bed was an unexpected feature. At the touch of a button it folds itself slowly into a sitting position for reading. Want your feet up a little higher, just toggle the button on the bedside remote control. Sheer indulgence.
The spa building is rectangular and built from 60,000 blocks of quartzite from the Vals valley. Peter Zumthor’s design won the most prestigious architectural award in Switzerland in 2010 and suits the local material perfectly creating a wonderful labyrinth of pools and hidden spaces where the water is kept at different temperatures. Some of the small rooms work as reverberation chambers and it is really hard to resist gently humming to set the walls singing. There are steam rooms aplenty, including one set for naked use and several differently styled relaxation areas, some of which have views of the valley.
The centre piece of course is the outside pool surrounded by high walls with gaps strategically placed to frame the view. The outdoor pool is heated to 36C in winter and 30C in summer. We went early on our first morning at 7132 to swim in the mists created by the warm water in the cold mountain air. Simply divine and the perfect prelude to a wonderful breakfast in red restaurant.
7132 takes its name from the postcode and it is undoubtedly the most significant place in this tiny alpine town. Tucked away in a deep river valley at about 4,000 feet and just a few miles from the border with Italy, Vals is equally popular for summer hiking as for winter sports but justly famous for the natural hot springs. The current owner who is a native Valser has great ambitions to make 7132 one of the top 5 hotels in the world. This would involve the construction of Switzerland’s tallest building within the footprint of the present hotel complex. It is a somewhat controversial proposal and a decision on the planning application is due very soon. The architect’s drawings we have seen show a beautiful slim tower which seems to blend into the surrounding air by capturing and reflecting shards of light from the surrounding hills. Whether or not the tower is built, 7132 is a superb centre of excellence in hospitality in a country which has long led the world in hotel management. This is the perfect hideaway for stressed execs and a wonderful place to recharge the soul. We will be back and even at £1700 for a night in the suite (inclusive of helicopter and limousine transfers) it felt good value, at least for a one-night stay.