St Moritz in September

Ah, St Moritz. The name brings to mind a gorgeous summer holiday in Torquay. I was 16 and he was tall, blond, a little shy and had the most beautiful smile. I’ll call him Hanspeter, because that was his name. When business took me to St Moritz one September day a few years ago, well, for a brief second, I considered looking him up. Then I realized I didn’t know his surname – I’d never bothered to ask. What can I say… it was summer, we were kids…

My first view of St. Moritz and the Engadin Valley was jagged, alpine peaks kissing the clear sky, larches in golden autumn colours, the sun sparkling off the water in the deep-blue St. Moritzsee. Here and there, a house clung precariously to a cliff. Only Swiss and Norwegians would choose to live in such splendid isolation.

What to do in St Moritz

On the other hand, St Moritz is marketed as ‘prestigious, world famous, chic, elegant and exclusive’. It’s a ‘playground for movie stars and royalty’, it has a ‘pronounced cosmopolitan ambience’ and – my favourite – ‘a champagne climate more tonic than anywhere else’. Even the name St Moritz is copyrighted.

The town is divided in two. Up in the hills is St Moritz-Dorf – everyone’s image of this swanky resort – full of chalets, hotels, boutiques and the odd souvenir shop. Down by the lakeshore, St Moritz-Bad is another story – full of ugly concrete blocks of flats and sports halls. What can those architects have been thinking? Here you are, surrounded by nature at its most stunning, and you’re inspired to build this?

St Moritz-Bad
St Moritz-Bad

I want to like you, St Moritz. And I do. But you are not a beautiful town. The phrase less is more would likely receive nothing but a sneer here. Sorry to hurt your feelings, but you’re a bit obtrusive, actually. However, what you lack in beauty, my darling, you make up for with your setting.

View from Piz Nair, Engadin Valley
View from Piz Nair

Dorf and Bad are connected by a series of escalators through St Moritz Design Gallery. I suppose this Alpine town must get its share of lazy tourists, then. Here for Prada and Patek Philippe rather than the skiing. Claudia Schiffer, Pierce Brosnan and Lance Armstrong hang out here from time to time. I’m sure they are fit enough to walk, though.

Hotel Waldhaus am See

Passing through the gallery and looking at posters showing scenes from St Moritz at the turn of the century, I yearn to visit St Moritz of the early 1900s. Where, oh where is that time machine? (Perhaps a brief detour to that lovely English summer and exchange surnames…)

What to do in St Moritz in September:

  1. Stroll around the über-gorgeous St Moritzsee.
  2. Have a look at the quirky old-world Hotel Waldhaus am See and imagine the place say, 100 years ago – people in Edwardian costume strolling lazily around, picknicing by the lake, happily chatting, resting and taking the baths. Very belle époque.
  3. Try a Nusstorte (local nut cake – delicious).
  4. Take the Bergbahn up to Corviglia and the cable car on up to Piz Nair. Walk the last bit up to the very top (3057 m), and breathe as deeply as you can! Go back down to the Panorama restaurant, get a cup of tea and enjoy the view. Walk back down and look for adorable marmots along the mountainside.
  5. OK then – give those escalators a go. They end at a terrace overlooking the lake. And just in case the two short stairs down from the terrace are too much, there is a lift down to the pavement.

This is off-season. Many resorts and shops are closed – but everything will be back in business in early December, including the flashy Badrutt’s Palace Hotel from 1896. Now you know.

Badrutt's Palace Hotel, St Moritz

Badrutt’s Palace hotel. Somehow gaudy 19th century is more appealing than gaudy 20th century.

Summing up, here’s my quick take on St Moritz:

  • The town – eeeh…..
  • The setting – out of this world
  • Worth it? Oh yes!

For more fun photos, have a look at DeliciousBaby.


32 Responses to “St Moritz in September”

  1. Italian Notes 26 September 2011 0829 #

    I’ve always thought of St. Moritz as a ski resort. Nice with some inspiration for an ‘out of that season’ visit.

  2. Annie - FootTracker 26 September 2011 1043 #

    Hrm, somehow Badrutt’s Palace hotel in the photo looks very Chinese style to me….I think it is because of the colors (green roof, red and white house body).

    Hotel Waldhaus am See looks very nice though, I would love to have a chance to stay there and get a lake side view room ~ (Better start making $$ >.<)
    Annie – FootTracker recently posted..Japan (17) Learning to Slurp Loudly @Ippudo Ramen

  3. robin 26 September 2011 1251 #

    Yes, very Belle Epoque – such a romantic location!
    robin recently posted..La Granja

  4. Tina 26 September 2011 1354 #

    That is just so romantic! The Waldhaus am See, the lake, your story… love it!

  5. Jeremy Branham 26 September 2011 1737 #

    I like the photos of St Moritz. Seems like it has gotten a bit spoiled and lost a bit of its charm. Seems like its beauty gave rise to too much commercialism.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..A Sacramento history lesson in Old Sacramento

  6. Anne-Sophie Redisch 26 September 2011 2034 #

    @Jeremy – Yes, I suppose it may have gone to their head. Beautiful area, over-the-top marketing.

  7. The Travel Chica 26 September 2011 2232 #

    The view from Piz Nair is beautiful.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..My Possessions: What I Chose to Keep

  8. Michael Figueiredo 27 September 2011 0044 #

    St. Moritz certainly looks stunning! I love your opening paragraph :)
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..La Jolla: The Jewel of San Diego

  9. Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 September 2011 0045 #

    Haha. Thanks, Michael.

  10. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler 27 September 2011 0046 #

    I’ll call him Hanspeter, because that was his name.” HA! Love it. That is a gorgeous view of the mountains.
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Do You Thrive on the Unknown or Take the Safe Route?

  11. St. Moritz is very beautiful but not one of my favorite Swiss towns. It is a nice place to spend a night waiting for the Glacier Express, though.
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Salzburg: Hanging at Hanger-7

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 September 2011 0204 #

      @Debbie – I agree. And at the end of the Glacier Express is uber-gorgeous Zermatt, which I adore. Bit unfair comparison, I suppose – Zermatt has the Matterhorn after all.

  12. Mark Wiens 27 September 2011 0214 #

    Incredible scenery Sophie! Too bad the buildings are a little overdone, but glad you still recommend it as an amazing place to visit. I hope to visit someday in the future!
    Mark Wiens recently posted..Photo Favorite: Storm and Sunset at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

  13. Green Beauty Girl 27 September 2011 0441 #

    Off season does sound appealing. Beautiful.

  14. inka 27 September 2011 0935 #

    I agree. St. Moritz in the 1900 must really have been something. Today…. not so much. The glitz is fading fast.
    inka recently posted..Why inspiring others is fun

  15. Technosyncratic 27 September 2011 1621 #

    The town doesn’t look terribly lovely… but the views sure do!
    Technosyncratic recently posted..The Mediterranean Beauty of Malta

  16. InsideJourneys 27 September 2011 1712 #

    What a breathtaking photo of Piz Nair! Wonder if that’s a house on the left.
    St. Moritz is one of those places that conjure up luxury, disappointed to hear there’s a bad side. Thanks for the recommendations as well.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..10 Places to Eat Near Times Square

  17. Muza-chan 29 September 2011 0829 #

    Wonderful photos :)
    Muza-chan recently posted..A Japanese Song per Day: Ritsuko Okazaki – For Fruits Basket

  18. Denise 29 September 2011 1109 #

    There are plenty of spots around Switzerland with as much (if not more) beauty and less sticks up their a****. I just find it ridiculous how some corners of the world get the ‘exclusive’ mark. Great shots
    Denise recently posted..Cuba: To visit or not to visit, that is the question.

  19. Turkey's For Life 29 September 2011 1213 #

    Loved this post Sophie and judging by your photos, I reckon I agree with your quick summing up at the end. Yes, just what were those architects thinking when they built the concrete blocks?!
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Kalkan Autumn Sunset

  20. Leigh 29 September 2011 1849 #

    Very nicely written.
    I always think of movie stars, glamour and sky high prices when I think of St.Moritz and not the ugly buildings you’ve shown us. I can’t believe they’ve got their name under copyright – all about preserving the identity I guess.
    And I’m with you on those Swiss nut cakes – a little taste of heaven.
    Leigh recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: Crowfoot Glacier, Banff National Park

  21. Cheryl 29 September 2011 1933 #

    Soooo lovely. I want to go there right now!!
    Cheryl recently posted..Getting Medieval In Rostock, Germany.

  22. Sabrina 29 September 2011 2313 #

    I’d like to stay in the hotel by the lake. Looks very pretty!
    Sabrina recently posted..Dinner With a View at The Grapes in London

  23. Nancie 30 September 2011 0055 #

    Your shots are stunning. I would love to stroll around there in the off season.
    Nancie recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday – September 29, 2011- Korean Traditional Dance

  24. Average Traveller 30 September 2011 0744 #

    Love it! This is my favorite submission to TPThursday this week! Funny and informative with great pics. Thanks!
    Average Traveller recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: Seattle View Zoom Effect (How To)

  25. Anne-Sophie Redisch 30 September 2011 1437 #

    @Average Traveller – thanks :)

  26. Heather on her travels 30 September 2011 2317 #

    Interesting the St Moritz is a town divided – still I suppose that normal people need to have somewhere to live, we can all afford Prada
    Heather on her travels recently posted..The Siwa sunset at Fatmas Island – in Egypt

  27. Robert 1 October 2011 2257 #

    What an entertaining and informative read. Love this article. Would really like to visit St Moritz now. Looks like it’s a little out of the way, though. (Also loving the map feature, btw.) What’s the easiest way to get there?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 October 2011 0004 #

      @Robert – It’s perhaps a little out of the way, but worth it, of course. We took the train from Zürich to Chur, then the lovely narrow-gauge Bernina Express onwards to St Moritz. Swiss rail journeys are beautiful!

      And yes, I like the map feature as well. Useful. Also, I adore maps.

  28. Jenna 3 October 2011 1620 #

    Like Leigh, I love the way this is written. And the setting is stunning!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 October 2011 0956 #

      @Jenna – Thank you :)

  29. Rutas y Mapas 25 May 2012 2319 #

    The holiday region of Engadin St. Moritz is located on the southern slopes of the Swiss Alps at 1800 meters: the “roof of Europe”.

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