An Insider’s Guide To Gstaad

Inside Report

An Insider’s Guide To Gstaad

In the Bernese Mountains lies glitzy Gstaad, beloved of the European jet set and packed with swanky boutiques and grand old hotels. Originally a winter resort, Gstaad attracts about half of its visitors in the summer. At 1,000 meters or 3,280 feet, above sea level, the idyllic mountain town is worth visiting every season. 84 rooms founder Sebastian Schoellgen has been living in the area for many years. Here he shares his latest discoveries and why you should visit this winter season.

Sebastian Schoellgen
Oct 17, 2022

Winter activities

200 kilometres of ski slopes nestled between 1,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level. Ski-season runs from mid-December to mid-March. The Glacier 3000 is open from early November to May, roughly 20 minutes from Gstaad.

For the more daring there’s the Tiger Run on Wasserngrat, my favorite mountain to ski. Have lunch at Berghaus Wasserngrat which is the sister restaurant to 16 in Saanen. Others are Eggli with the new Club de Luge, the second members club (after the famed Eagles on Wasserngrat), and the largest ski area of Schönried, Saanenmöser, and Zweisimmen.

If you are not a skier, you can rent snowshoes and polls at Brand Sport in town and hike all the way up to Wasserngrat, should take you about 2h and you can take the chair lift down.

Summer activities

There are spectacular hikes and the scenery is breathtaking everywhere you look. This part of Switzerland is famous for its beautiful Alpine lakes, such as Arnensee. The water is cold but a dip in summer is super refreshing - or you can rent a boat to bomb around in. There are endless different hiking routes to take, and always discover beautiful new chalets or vegetable gardens each time.

Where to stay

Gstaad & its surroundings have many excellent hotels. One of my favorites is the Alpina Gstaad, which has a contemporary mountain design and an amazing SPA.

I am also a fan of the Le Grand Bellevue, right in town. I love their lobby to hang out and have afternoon tea.

And then there is the Gstaad Palace, one of the only family-owned and -operated hotels in Switzerland, guests are treated like extended members of the family (big names who have checked in here have included Louis Armstrong, Liz Taylor, and Marc Chagall). During World War II, the hotel housed other treasures: owing to its isolated location on the upper mountainside, the Swiss government hid a large portion of the country’s gold reserves in a two-story bunker at the hotel. Today, this historic space serves as La Fromagerie, with a Champagne truffle fondue, and the terrace of the famous Lobby Bar. For more formal dining, Le Restaurant, Le Grill Rôtisserie, or at authentic Italian Gildo’s Ristorante.

For a more private option with a group, you can hire our chalet, a 6-minute drive from Gstaad in the direction to Gsteig. It has huge wrap-around sun decks which are made for sunny, summer days, and a sauna for colder months.

Where to eat

  • Rössli, Feutersoey One of Gstaad’s longest-standing restaurants is the Rössli, which has been owned by the Reichenbach family since 1919. And its signature dish? A legendary poached trout, which it still serves to this day. We also recommend the wiener schnitzel, eaten ideally on its beautiful terrace on a sunny winter’s day.

  • Sonnenhof, Saanen Some of the best cuisine in the valley and a wonderful terrace.

  • Le Cerf, Rougemont Not far away in the French-speaking part of Gstaad Valley you will find the exceptionally pretty village of Rougemont. In the heart of it is Le Cerf, a wonderfully cosy and authentic spot with a hearty menu and, as locals would have it, the best fondue and raclette, in the Alps. Get the Edgard fondue and finish off with wood-fired meringues with double alpine cream.

  • 16, Saanen This is my personal favourite restaurant. Order the Côte de Boeuf. Excellent wine list. Ask for Simon.

  • Olden The restaurant "where the world dines" is a meeting place for bons vivants and gourmets from – as the name already says – all over the world. No expense is spared in serving you the most delicious and finest highlights of international cuisine. P.S. Don't look at the bill!

Grocers

  • Pay a visit to the town butcher. Farmer Metzg (Saalistrasse 17) is a local butcher that has incredible meats. The owners have owned the farm nearby — and have been running this business — for decades.

  • Pernet (Promenade 75) is a really incredible upscale gourmet food market. It has a lot of locally made and produced products — caviar, fish, produce, crisps, cookies.

Shopping

From Ralph Lauren to Loro Piana, the Promenade is a small Fifth Avenue of the Alps. Lorenz Bach’s store has a great selecion for men (Promenade 81). For Alpine Interiors, head to Rougemont Interiors, Promenade 3.

Don’t miss

A visit to Casa Gstaad, an interior design studio and showroom founded by Antonia Crespí that brings together an Alpine way of life with sophisticated, modern design. Hosting selected galleries, designers, and artists to showcase their projects in the chalet.

Good to know

Neighboring and super picturesque Saanen is where the locals live and shop and where you can also find my favourite tailor, Zwahlen-Hüni, they carry the best Jankerl.

When to go

Every season here is beautiful in its own way. I love fall, summer, and obviously winter. Spring skiing at the Glacier is exciting too.

Gstaad Packing List

Dress in Après-Ski casuals: Ralph Lauren Double RL & elegantly understated Cashmere. Fusalp & Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops when hitting the slopes.

How to get to Gstaad

The best way to get around is always by train. No matter where you go, most Swiss villages (such as Gstaad, Saanen, Rougemont, Schönried, and Saanenmöser) are connected to the Swiss Railway. It’s a journey back in time; some trains are vintage and wooden and have a feeling of old-world glamour. Gstaad is about a 2h drive from Geneva (3h by train) and a 2 1/2h drive from Zurich (4h by train).

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