Grand Hotel Tschuggen
Whilst we love to ski and generally frolic in snow, we don't like to rough it and it's difficult to find good luxury hotels in ski resorts at affordable prices. Here we think we have the answer. The Grand Hotel Tschuggen is located in the small mountain town of Arosa, Graubünden in the East of Switzerland and is a member of Leading Hotels of the World. We arrived by train, after connecting in Chur for the charming Rättische Bahn train which climbs steadily up to Arosa through an endless string of quaint little alpine villages. Our destination was reached an hour after we left Chur and the hotel's Mercedes S class was waiting for us. This is a courtesy extended to all guests staying at Tschuggen Grand Hotel and it is repeated on departure at no additional cost.
Although externally the hotel main building is a typical example of the clean-lined, modest modern Swiss architecture, inside is another world. This hotel is a veritable museum of fine finishing and interior design. Every surface has some special finish, there is a lot of Italian leather even covering walls in places and we immediately spotted an exquisite pair of Hermes conversation chairs in the lounge. The high standard of fixtures and fittings extends throughout the hotel with each floor having a colour theme. Each guest room is unique and even the ceilings are works of fine finishing of the highest quality.
The hotel has a huge choice of dining venues, including an igloo in winter for warming fondue. After a day's walking, we were hungry and keen to sample the Michelin starred restaurant La Vetta. As in the rest of the hotel, service was exemplary, the range on the menu bewildering with strong local accents and the Sommelier's knowledge of the local produce stunning. We had so many amuses bouche we lost count. My duck breast was the most flavoursome I've ever eaten and the beetroot purée served with Mrs d2t's John Dory was out of this world. It is the mark of a truly great chef to be able to present a dish which defines a flavour. At Cheval Blanc in Basel, Peter Knogl serves "mushroom three ways" as an amuse bouche. It is a reference for the flavour of mushroom and in the same way the beetroot served here is a definition of the flavour of this sweet root. I was simply in ecstasy by the time we got to the after-dinner schnapps and the Sommelier produced a 29 year old Framboise.
Breakfast the next morning was one of the most extensive buffets we have ever sampled - poached eggs were produced perfectly, local jams and honeys were unbelievably flavoursome and there was an amazing choice of cheeses and cold cuts, as well as dairy produce from cows, sheep and goats. Coupled with excellent coffee and a good choice of teas and juices, it was impossible not to be satisfied. Service was truly top class.
Grand Hotel Tschuggen is the only hotel in Switzerland to have a private luxury mountain railway, which swishes you up to the slopes in style. This is a real perk for either summer walking or winter sports - there was no queue when we used the Express and we enjoyed a cabin to ourselves. The hotel also has a spotless ski locker room and equipment is available to hire at very reasonable rates.
In Summer, rates include a local tourist card (Arosa Inclusive) giving free public transport including gondolas up the mountain. A range of activities are also included on the card, such as a high ropes adventure course, use of rowing boats or pedaloes on Obersee Lake and access to the local museum.
The Grand Hotel Tschuggen is an excellent choice for Winter or Summer, even for those who don't like outdoor pursuits! Located in Arosa, there is plenty to do outside and the hotel is so easy to reach by public transport. The exemplary service starts on arrival at Arosa station with a member of staff waiting to help with bags and Mercedes transfers to the hotel. Rooms are a decent size - we recommend booking at least a South-facing deluxe room to get a balcony and that superb view. The food we sampled was excellent - this is the first time we have seen dairy produce from sheep and goats out on the breakfast buffet, breads from the local bakery were tasty and they even had a decent green tea (unusual in Switzerland)! Michelin-starred La Vetta was very reasonably priced and the food both interesting and delicious. The Bergoase Spa is not just architecturally stunning but wonderfully relaxing inside. What made the hotel for us though was the service, which was faultless. It was a surprise for us to meet the hotel's energetic GM who took the post at the astonishingly young age of 28. Whilst this may have seemed a gamble on the owner's part, it has obviously paid off.