The Alps: Cozy Up to Romance
Cold weather is the best excuse to snuggle up. The Alps offer a signature blend of adventure and luxury, tailor-made for the kind of people who seek out the joy of fresh powder. From the slopes to sleigh rides to chalets, the Alps are the perfect place to get cozy.
St Moritz, Switzerland
In a country full of swanky resort towns, St. Moritz takes the crown with its wide array of five-star hotels, designer stores, and award-winning restaurants. The town is also home to such exciting activities as skijoring and ice cricket, which help to keep all the celebrity visitors entertained.
Snaking, cracking, shimmering a brilliant blue in places and covered by mystical frost in others, the Mer de Glace displays nature in all its powerful glory. France’s longest glacier stretches for 4.3 miles and is over 650 feet deep. Quite literally a sea of ice, it continues to move under its own weight; its surfaces break up, crevasses appear, and pointed columns of ice known as seracs burst from the surface. Though this glacier continues to amaze, it’s slowly being decimated by climate change—in 1988, you only had to climb down three steps to reach the ice grotto, which is carved out every spring; now, the ice has receded so much that you have to tackle 430 steps.
Bahnhofpl. 1, 7000 Chur, Switzerland
I didn’t even realize that the Bernina Express scenic train journey was on the UNESCO World Heritage list until I arrived at the small northern Italian town of Tirano to start the trip. There are several different routes from which travelers may chose, but that day I took a one-way trip from Tirano to the Swiss mountain town of Chur. It was the middle of winter and I was excited to see the famous snow-covered Alps in person. Images of Maria from the Sound of Music kept running through my head as the train slowly pulled out of the small station. The journey is a scenic one and the train cars have been designed to maximize the amazing views. The windows are extra large and there is more than enough room between seats to allow for even the most ardent shutterbug. Our trip took about four hours, during which time we passed through narrow valleys and swept past mountain villages that looked like they were plucked out of a model train set. The unique and stunning scenery I was lucky enough to witness proved to me why UNESCO very smartly placed this journey on their important list. Tirano is easy to reach from Milan and there are many different train routes available including trips to St. Moritz and Davos.
Weinpl. 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Former interior designer and gallery owner Elisabetta Capei now presides over this shop near St. Peter’s Church. It specializes in artisan handmade Swiss and Italian chocolates. Among her highlights are chocolates by Reichmuth von Reding, a little-known producer whose super-smooth, velvety-tasting bars are made with single-origin cacao beans and are conched for up to 72 hours. In the back of the shop, there’s a small counter with just eight stools for drinking Elisabetta’s hot chocolate, which she whisks herself, making just four to five liters a day.
Gornergrat, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland
A trip up to the Gornergrat provides the best view of the Matterhorn without ripping a huge hole in your wallet. For less than 10 Francs, we were able to ride the lift up to Gornergrat and see one of the most spectacular views. At the top there is a little restaurant where you can enjoy a coffee or some lunch and sit outside to enjoy the Matterhorn in all of its glory. From here, you can either walk down which takes about 2 hours, through little ski chalet towns, or take the lift back down to Zermatt. From my experience, one of the best views of the Matterhorn in Switzerland!
This champagne bar looks like a mirage as you’re coming down the last stretch of the narrow Sunnega run back into Zermatt. A classic après-ski spot, it’s where the local instructors gather at day’s end. The Cuban-born bartender is always playing great music, from Bob Marley to Jack Johnson, while skiers stay warm with heat lamps, fur blankets, and, of course, multiple glasses of Veuve Clicquot.
Stadthofstrasse 14, 6006 Luzern, Switzerland
Hotel Hofgarten is a warm, welcoming establishment housed in one of Lucerne’s oldest manor houses. From the outside, the restaurant looks like a casual pub, but the minute you enter, you sense the elegance housed inside. The space is light and airy. One white-walled dining room has high ceilings, ornate chandeliers, and is flooded with light. The other dining area feels like an upscale greenhouse with floor-to-ceiling windows and a gleaming open kitchen. The chef focuses on fresh ingredients sourced from Lucerne greenmarkets and local cheesemongers. Menu items are seasonal and include favorites such as roasted scallops, porcini ravioli, pumpkin soup, venison, braised veal, poached salmon, and fresh soups and salads. This is a wonderful restaurant if you are seeking lighter, more sophisticated fare in an airy environment while you’re in Lucerne.