What I like about the Waldhaus Sils is that, although it’s just 7 miles from St. Moritz, it’s in the heart of the countryside, surrounded by nature, perfect for relaxation. It also helps that it’s been owned by the same family since it was built in 1908, and they’re very much in evidence around the hotel.
In fact, if you’ve seen the movie Grand Budapest Hotel, you have an idea of the sort of welcome you’re going to receive. It actually features in the recent movie “Clouds of Sils Maria”, with Juliette Binoche, which was shot here.
When it’s full, the 140 rooms can take 240 guests who are looked after by a staff of 145, some of whom have been there for years. There’s a high number of repeat visits, as parents bring their children, who eventually bring their children. Two families, one Swiss and another German, have been coming for seven generations, since the 1920s. There’s also a long list of the rich and famous which includes David Bowie, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung and Rod Stewart, although not all at the same time. Friedrich Nietzsche loved the locality so much that he spent seven summers here in a house in the village below.
There are nine room categories, and a number of suites. You can choose whether you want to go traditional with restored furnishings from1908, or ultra-modern, but all are supremely comfortable. I had a large balcony overlooking the lake and spent time trying to spot the natural phenomenon “Maloja Snake,” where clouds slide, serpent-like, over the Maloja pass and pass down the Engadine Valley. I later discovered that it only happens in the summer.
Downstairs, as you can imagine, there’s a sumptuous lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, furnished in Empire style, echoing to the sounds of Schumann from the paper rolls of a 1910 Welte-Mignon mechanical piano. In the evening there’s a trio gathered round the 1904 Steinway grand, subtly playing the dance tunes of yesteryear and there’s even a smoking room should you fancy a cigar with your cocktail. Fortunately the spa is bang up to date and I loved the 20m indoor heated swimming pool.
Of course, food is an essential part of life here, and sumptuous breakfasts set you up for the day. As well as regular evening dining there are daily options – on Monday you can eat at the Chef’s Table, in the heart of the kitchen, Tuesday features themed buffets and Thursday offers a gala banquet by candlelight with live music. You don’t have to dress for dinner but if feels wrong not to. The hotel also plays as one of the host to the annual St. Moritz Gourmet Festival featuring presentations from famous chefs from around the world.
Although it’s easy to spend all your time being pampered indoors, I welcomed the ability to walk out of the hotel and climb the mountains, or hike alongside the lake up to the village of Maloja. Of course they provide transfers if you’re missing the bright lights and the designer shops of St Moritz but, after a few days, here you don’t really feel like going anywhere else.
Tell me more about the Waldhaus Sils
Demi-pension at Waldhaus Sils, including dinner and breakfast, starts from £170 per night.
Tourism Engadin St. Moritz has information on the region.
My Switzerland has information about the country.
SWISS offers 115 daily flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich. Fares start from £71* one-way (Economy Light fare), including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and free ski carriage.
The Swiss Travel System offers a Swiss Transfer Ticket that covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and your destination. Prices are £94 in second class and £151 in first class.