Ever imagine yourself rubbing shoulders with Prince Charles, Camilla and others of the Royal brood? Well you will have to visit this gorgeous region in the winter ski season and not undertake a summer sojourn like I did.
Klosters, the Princes’ favourite resort, is further east along the Swiss Alps from Zermatt, whilst Davos is a little further east still. All of these resorts, as well as St. Moritz, Saas-Fee and other less well known ski slopes and mountains, can be quite easily accessed, using Klosters as a base. Quite a bonus can be had by staying in Klosters or Davos after the 1st of July each summer.
As an incentive to encourage summer visitors when the ski crowds have gone, your hotel will issue each guest with a Davos-Klosters card for the duration of your stay.
This is a literal fortune saver, for it allows you unlimited travel on any of the ski lifts, funicular railways, local trains and buses around both towns. Davos is a twenty minute rail trip from Klosters so you can extract great value from the passes for entire days out in the region.
Klosters itself is a small and upmarket town, very stylish and pretty, much less commercialised than the other resorts and no doubt why it receives royal patronage.
It is peaceful and has a relaxed atmosphere generally.
Just behind the railway station is the Gotschna cable car which takes you on a scenic ride to the top of the nearby mountain. At the top there is a restaurant, terrace and shop. There are 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains whilst numerous signposted walks, mountain bike trails and ski-runs lead off in all directions.
You may also be as lucky as us in seeing Marmots. These are beaver-like creatures which live on mountain tops in burrows. They are as cute as can be and can be seen scurrying around the rocks going about their daily business.
The difference between Zermatt, Klosters and Davos is quite dramatic.
Zermatt has an old town of traditional wooden chalets and narrow alleys, but is dominated by it’s main street which is too commercialised for me and is party central in season.
Klosters has a less concentrated and village like appearance, with traditional Swiss wooden pitched rooftops. It is picturesque, with the buildings more spread out and has a relaxed, up-market atmosphere about it.
Davos is not a pretty town, mostly comprising of concrete block buildings between four and eight storeys. There is a man-made sports lake at one end of the town and has wonderful, year round adventure sport facilities in the mountains which surround the town.
The main cable car ride in Davos is the Jakobshorn. At the mountain top is a lovely café with terrace, a picnic area and benches from which to stare aghast at the marvellous views. You can watch as the daredevil mountain bike riders hurtle down the tracks below you as they disappear into the valley and out of sight.
There is also a funicular railway in Davos, the Schatzalp, which rises to the top of another mountain on the other side of the valley. From the restaurant and viewing terrace you can progress further up the mountain to participate in a go-kart toboggan run which is exhilarating.
The world famous Bernina Express is unfortunately not included in the Davos-Klosters card but is well worth paying for. It runs from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy, with an additional branch from Davos and a loop into St.Moritz. It has 122km of track, runs through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts. It passes over the famous Brusio circular viaduct and the views are inspiring throughout this magical journey. This railway and it’s spectacular engineering feats is a UNESCO world heritage site.
We took the ride from Davos and alighted in the delightful Italian town of Tirano, another pretty place with a fast flowing glacial river and an old part of town which is well worth exploring on foot. There are several restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops to refresh yourself before the return journey.
So, where to stay in Klosters?
There are many fine hotels and superb B&B’s in the town, but we stayed at the family run, four star, Silvretta Park Hotel, adjacent to the Landquart River and just on the outskirts of the town centre. It is an easy five minute stroll to the centre and the railway station.
This is a recently refurbished hotel with a stylish Alpine chalet appearance.
Our room was spacious, clean and comfortable, whilst the beds were so good, I wanted to take one home. The excess baggage bill dissuaded me though.
Some rooms have views to the mountains at the front whilst others, like ours, faced rear gardens and woodland, where we observed the antics of unusual black and white squirrels (yes, they were squirrels!) and woodpeckers from our balcony.
The hotel has an excellent spa with treatment rooms, a swimming pool, large Jacuzzi, a standard sauna and a naked sauna for the more adventurous. There is also a well equipped, small gym.
The food here is superb and is taken in the excellent restaurant on the first floor, with picture windows from which to admire the views. Breakfast is continental style and self service with a vast choice, including hot meals.
It was the evening meals which were the highlight however. Self service buffet style once again, which did no good for the waistline. I can resist anything except for temptation, as Oscar Wilde once said, and so can I.
After taking a choice from the array of starters, the resident Chef cooked king prawns to order on a griddle in the restaurant itself on one evening. So delicious.
The generously sized steaks were cooked just so and couldn’t be faulted whilst other items and choices were plentiful. There were always three or four choices of main dishes from which to select. Home made desserts and a fabulous mountain of local cheeses completed each evening’s feast.
In the winter season, there is an excellent piano bar next to the restaurant in which to relax. A large lounge adjacent to it has sofas and easy chairs.
The small bar and a la carte restaurant on the ground floor is open in the summer season for guests to enjoy a drink or two.
This is a friendly hotel with lovely, smiling and traditionally dressed, helpful staff.
More details of the Silvretta Park can be found at www.silvretta.ch
Don’t Pass this up, go.