Never confirmed, it came alive through the imagination of renowned interior designer Carlo Rampazzi, who transformed this somewhat dated hotel into a contemporary grand hotel that has lost none of its classic flair
Being in St Moritz, the cradle of winter tourism, and alongside Zermatt and Gstaad the most exclusive winter resort in Switzerland, there is a long history of grand hotels. Some of the most iconic, such as the Badrutt’s Palace, Kulm Hotel, Grand Hotel des Bains or Suvretta House, mean there is fierce competition. Preparing the Carlton for the next century of its existence was no small feat.
After the extensive, 18 month long renovation, the exterior of the hotel looks just like it did in 1913. Whilst the façade is still as old-fashioned as it has been, the interior is unlike that of any other hotel in the village. It’s bright, colourful, and references to the Tsar’s times are dotted around the property. At first, it might even seem a bit kitschy, but once you get used to it, it feels more like a dream-world, intensified by the stunning views you have from the hotel. This really is a contemporary Grand Hôtel.
Despite the breath-taking scenery, and the great slopes in St Moritz, you might find yourself spending more time in the hotel than you would have anticipated. The suites (there are no standard rooms) are incredibly spacious and luxurious. To not have to bother with small things, the minibar is included, and your private butler will help you with any wishes that might arise.
The hotel’s lobby has the charm of a mountain lodge with its warming fires, live music and big leather sofas. It is the sort of place where you can easily spend a couple of hours reading, chatting or drinking.
There is, however, a lot more to the hotel. One of its strongest points is the food. The hotel’s main restaurant Romanoff is different to most Swiss hotel restaurants, in that it does not offer a daily menu for those guests who book half-board. Instead, you get a certain amount of credit that you can spend as you please. That allows you to exchange with chef Gero Porstein, who will be able to satisfy most gastronomic wishes, making it rather more exciting to eat here than at a standard hotel restaurant.
The other restaurant in the hotel, is none other than Italian three-star Da Vittorio. Whilst the restaurant in Italy is closed for a couple of months during the winter, the team cooks here in St Moritz, and it is safe to say that there is no better place to eat in the village than Da Vittorio. On top of that, if the sun’s out, the terrace is superb, making it an unforgettable dining experience.
The other place that really is worth exploring at the Carlton is the spa area. There is an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi that makes a couple of hours in the snow pass by in no time, and the indoor pool, and wet area are first class. On top of offering every possible luxury, they are also much more quiet, and serene than those in other hotels in St Moritz. Partially due to the size of the Carlton (there are only 60 suites), and partially due to its clientele, this is the place to come if you are looking to relax, rather than constantly be surrounded by people.
In general, the atmosphere here is intimate, and a stay feels very private. We cannot help to make the comparison with Aman hotels, even though the design of those is very different from that of the Carlton. Finding such a peaceful hotel in St Moritz is easier said than done, so this is one of the most distinctive aspects of a stay here.
The effort that has been put into the restoration of the Carlton Hotel in St Moritz must have been enormous. Based on our experience here, however, every little bit of it was worth it, as this is a unique hotel. The references to the Tsars, the atmosphere, and the quality of the restaurants will make it an unforgettable place to stay. That it has been crowned Switzerland’s best ski hotel twice, only validates the quality of its offering.