Visiting Switzerland is an absolutely breathtaking experience. Between the food and people, it’ll make you want to pick up your life and move to Geneva like, yesterday.
Gstaad, in particular, is a popular location for prevalent jet-setting holiday goers. Located in the valley of Bernese Oberland, in South-Western Switzerland. It’s especially known for being one of the largest ski areas throughout the Alps, with amazing runs suited for all levels of skiers or snowboarders.
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Aside from it being an amazing ski resort, Gstaad’s main street is lined with designer labels, boutique hotels and local restaurants. If you’re not careful this exquisite town will rack up your credit card bill, but don’t let that lead you astray.
I wouldn’t consider this town budget friendly, but when you experience the service, the skiing and the amenities you realize you get what you pay for.
If you need an activity that costs you near to nothing other than a few CHF (Swiss Franks) for a tea, then people watching is the best. Since it’s a town that’s dripping in money from all over the world, more times than none you’ll see man puffing on a cigar with a beautifully dressed woman, sporting designer gear and a small fluffy dog at the end of a diamond encrusted leash.
To add to the many amazing qualities, this is a very dog friendly town. Every bar, restaurant or hotel lobby you stroll in to there’s most likely a small dog with a jacket on, that looks more pampered than you.
Currency: CHF (Swiss Franc)
If you need to figure out your exchange rate http://www.xe.com is a great website.
How to get to Gstaad:
- Train from Geneva airport:
Geneva Airport -> Montreux (Change station) -> Gstaad
This takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes. This depends if you catch the connecting train in Montreux on time. It’s a picturesque journey, with panoramic views of the stunning Swiss landscape.
Find train times and tickets here
- Driving from Geneva (2 hours) / Zurich (2 hours and 30 minutes)
Top Tips for visiting Gstaad:
- Book restaurants in advance, especially during high-peak season
- RESEARCH before you go, it will avoid you spending an absolute fortune
- Want the experience but not the price tag? Rent an apartment or book a hotel with a small kitchen
Gstaaderhof is a cozy, 4-star chalet style hotel that offers great service, included buffet breakfast and a wonderful spa area that’s available to all guests.
The bar/ lounge area is absolutely charming and pretty much the only place where the wifi works wells. Behind the bar area, there’s a lovely restaurant, where the waiters are delightful and the food will tickle your taste buds.
The full service spa is open to guests after 4PM. It’s the perfect treat after a day a full day on the slopes. With a steam bath, sauna, massaging whirlpool and aromatherapy shower, the only thing missing is a deep tissue massage, which you can actually get for an extra cost.
Bonus: Everyone that works at the Gstaaderhof is so helpful and welcoming. They will do whatever they can do make your stay as comfortable as possible.
There’s only one small complaint: The smoking area is located right outside the front door. For someone who doesn’t smoke this can get a little irritating.
The food in Gstaad is just as beautiful as it’s scenic views. Again, it can get a little pricey, depending on where you decide to eat, but when in Rome….
Here are some great restaurant options to try:
There are two sides to this restaurant: during the day the bar is open with nibbles, wine, delicious pizza and a limited entree menu, and after 6:30PM the stunning bistro is open and provides a delicious menu.
Located in the center of town, the bar side of Rialto embodies a cozy, relaxed environment, which is a perfect place to have a drink and snack after a long day of skiing.
The bistro is a little more pricey, but the food is delicious and the service is tremendous. This is another place where I would highly recommend you book. It can get busy very quickly, once you try the food, you’ll understand why.
A cozy Italian restaurant located near Eggli mountain. The restaurant is set at the back of the hotel, wrapped in wooden decor. The waiters are on point, the wine is exquisite and the food was moreish. Need I say more? I ordered the Goat cheese salad with baked garlic bread pieces, and it was delicious. It’s a very busy restaurant, and family friendly. This is another restaurant that requires a reservation before you go.
A charming fondue restaurant located under the Gstaadhof hotel. You can’t go to Switzerland and not try the fondue, and this place is a delicious cheesy dream. Made with the finest Swiss cheese, this underground restaurant is the perfect place to go when it’s cold outside and your looking for somewhere warm, and traditional.
We ordered the Champagne and truffle fondue. It was heavy and rich from the truffles, but with a strong twist from the champagne. It was a nice combination, but sharing is recommended, it might be too much for one stomach. If cheese is not your thing, they also have meat fondue (Fondue Bourguignonne).
Here’s the PDF version of the menu, check it out: http://www.gstaaderhof.ch/media/42599/speisekarte-saagi-stuebli-englisch-1279473.pdf
Tip: By the end of the meal you will end up smelling of cooked cheese and oil, so be careful what you wear.
Hotel Olden, or what is originally known as the “Pinte” Inn in 1690, is a household name for clientele worldwide. If you want a chance to eat at this renown restaurant, “La Cave”, you have to book well in advance. If you didn’t book, there’s always a chance to eat in their bar/ pub area, which is now called the Pinte (pictures below are from the pub, I didn’t book a table so we didn’t have a chance to eat in La Cave).
The food was delectable and the staff were so friendly. The ambiance was warm, inviting and the made me want to kick my feet up and sit by the fire with a large glass of wine.
Posthotel Rössli – Restaurant Alti Post
Located inside of a small old style hotel, this restaurant serves food that remains true to the local culture. I ordered the smoked Salmon on top of steamed spinach and rosti, and let me tell you, it was amazing. I was close to licking the plate when I was done.
The atmosphere is warm and intimate, with a strong sense of tradition.
Skiing in Gstaad is magical. From the center of this small, luxurious town you can see the smooth slopes that surround the resort. It’s no surprise it attracts famous faces and wealthy families from all over the globe.
If you have a car with you, then access to all the mountains is pretty easy. If not, then they have an easy-to-use free bus that can take you to Wispile mountain (which is also in front of Eggli moutain), or to the train station.
If you are going with your little ones they have a fantastic ski school that teaches kids from 5-14 from all levels. For a more of a one-on-one experience, you can also hire a private teacher.
Tip: This is the main slope where the ski school teaches the little ones, so it can get a little crowded near the bottom of the mountain.
Getting to this Eggli is very simple. If you are willing to get the bus to Wispile, it’s just a short walk from the bus stop.
This is was my favourite mountain, I would consider this one of the main mountains that offer more than a handful of options to ski to different mountains/ areas such as Saanen, Chalberhoni, Rougement and La Videmanette.
La Videmanette (2151m)
From Rougement and Eggli there’s access to La Videmanette (2151m), with stunning views and even more amazing runs. It’ll make you feel like you’re on top of the world. Make sure to go on a clear day, other wise things can get a little scary. More times than none, the cable car that starts at Rougement will not be open unless conditions are clear. This particular run can be very steep, so only explore if you’re familiar with your skis or snowboard.
A little harder to get to, requires a bus from the train station that leaves hourly. It’s smaller, with less run, nonetheless it’s spectacular.
In addition to the skiing and the food, it’s highly recommended you visit Gstaad Palace. This five star luxury hotel has been standing tall since 1913, and has seen some high profile names over the years.
If you stay long enough, you might catch a glimpse. I was fortunate enough to attend a party at the palace and met was able to meet Valentino (it was probably the best moment of 2016 thus far).
There were very few negatives about this place, it was definitely a place where fairytales are made. The twinkling snow, the horse drawn carriages and the traditional architecture are a recipe for an amazing getaway.
If you’ve visited and have anything to add, let me know. I’d be interested to hear all about it.