Pleasure / November 2019

Badrutt’s Palace: the centrepiece of St. Moritz

One of the most famous hotels in the world readies itself for another winter season of charm, elegant and unabashed old-school hedonism…

In September, meek patches of snow sit atop the rough peaks of Switzerland’s Upper Engadin. A parade of lush green lark trees stand at ease on the uplands of the valley – only separated by barren tundra spaces and intermittent alpine settlements. One particular town happens to be the star-studded resort of St. Moritz. Peering magnificently over the shimmering aquamarine lake is the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, a neo-Gothic castle of towers, turrets and terraces designed by notable architects Chiodera and Tschudi. Colonised by a glittering array of film stars, European aristocrats, diplomats and winter sport Olympians, it is undoubtedly the most iconic hotel in the Alps.

The Badrutt’s family hotel dynasty can be traced back to the early 19th century in the nearby village of Samedan, under the chimerical vision of Johannes Badrutt Senior. Two more generations passed by until Caspar Badrutt - a far-sighted strategist opened the doors of the hotel in 1896. History proclaims that economic, political and social revisions can dramatically dictate the outlook of a business. Implications resulting from the outbreak of The First World War did just that. Foreign guests stayed away and employees were signed up for military service.

As if to make up for lost time the roaring 20s arrived holding gold-leaf trimmed coupette glasses spilling with champagne. British film director Alfred Hitchcock visited on his honeymoon and would be a frequent guest of the hotel for many decades to come. Apparently, it was watching a flock of alpine choughs circle around Badrutt’s tower that gave him the idea for his horror classic The Birds. In 1928/29, St. Moritz experienced the highpoint of the decade by acting as the venue for the Winter Olympics. It would set the premises for St. Moritz becoming the most stylish home from home for international jet-setters with the Badrutt’s Palace being the focal-point of louche conviviality. After a wartime interruption of 12 years, St. Moritz once again succeeded in reminding the world of its position as a leading winter sports resort by holding the 1948 Winter Olympics.

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Freddie Anderson

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