A non-walking tour to Switzerland – Day 4, St Moritz (non-rest day)

  • 10980 steps

St Moritz, when we got there on Thursday afternoon, was even quieter than Zermatt.

clothes wash hotel Soldanella St Moritz 518.JPG

It was the middle of the trip and time to do the washing.

Zermatt is enclosed , St Moritz is open. It has mountains, to be sure.

St Moritz 518 1.JPG

But the reason tourism came here in the 1860s seems to be that it also has a nice bite-sized lake.

Despite the doctor’s strictures, we couldn’t resist walking around it on Friday – this took an hour or so. It made me think of other lakes I’ve walked around.

When I was a boy I went to school camp at Grasmere, in the Lake District. At the end of our hikes we could go to Joe’s café to drink coke and milk shakes and trap wasps  – or we could drink tea in the Lakeside café.

For quite a few years my mother in law used to visit us in Brussels for her birthday, at just this time of year. We would take her for lunch at the Hotel du Lac at Genval, south of the city, then walk round the lake.

Once I had a work trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the German alps, including a walk around a lake called the Eibsee.

By now I had persuaded myself that all these lakes were the same size, imagining that  a Goldilocks size of lake for bourgeois resorts. Not so. Grasmere and the St Moritz lake are similar, but the Eibsee is more than twice as big while Genval is four times smaller.

(But: the lakes’ circumference, if they were round, would be proportionate to the square root of their areas. So the time to walk around each of these lakes is probably between three quarters of an hour and two hours. This may make some sense as a Goldilocks stroll for people on non-walking tours.)

Baddrutt Palace hotel St Moritz 518.JPG

As we walked we looked at the buildings. There are some wonderful nineteenth century structures, like Badrutt’s Palace Hotel.

modern houses St Moritz 518.JPG

Most are modern, though, and not much to look at. We liked the houses in the middle of this picture…

public arty wood St Moritz 518.JPG

… and this, whatever it is.

On the lake were many coots (coot?) and a pair of ducks (duck?). There was only one lakeside café, Pier 34. After our walk I ate “house smoked” salmon, apple strudel and Fendant white wine. The coffee was good, which seems sometimes to be the case and sometimes not.

We spent the afternoon in the Hotel Soldanella. It is on the hillside, polished brown wood, translucent glass, warm carpets, old toboggans everywhere.

table setting hotel Soldanella St Moritz 518.JPG

In the restaurant they lay the table with forks offset. (They did the same on the Glacier Express.) You can get wine in 50cl “Gentlemen bottles”, which are not allowed in the EU.

egg boiler hotel Soldanella St Moritz 518.JPG

At breakfast you can boil your own egg (in the device on the right). A timing guide is provided. I think extra time is allowed to reflect the altitude, 1800 metres.

If you’ve ever been to Fowey in Cornwall, you’ll remember that all the accommodation down by the water is for tourists, while local people live higher up. In St Moritz it is the opposite. The hotels and the posh shops are on the slopes, while year-round residents seem to live level with the lake at a place called St Moritz Bad.

There are not many pedestrian links between levels, you have to zig zag as if the place was built for carriages not walkers.

public writing fake tags St Moritz 518.JPGThe only tags we saw were fake.

In fact, St Moritz is posh – and quite British. For example, polo is played on the frozen lake in the winter.

bar hotel Soldanella St Moritz 518 3.JPG

The hotel bar is decorated with mementos of the Royal Air Force bobsleigh team. While we were there it was mainly occupied by people sitting at the counter smoking fat cigars – leaving the lake view tables, which you’d think would be prized, for us tourists. I’ve been on holiday two months, said the barmaid. I’m not so uuused to this. We all have to do what we have to do, I said. I’m not happy with your rrreply, she replied.



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Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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