St. Moritz sings of glamour with glittering pop-up ice bars, fine dining restaurants and a social scene to match the south of France. Fun, but all that razzle dazzle gets a little exhausting after a day or two. Opt instead for Silvaplana, St. Mortiz’s less exuberant, but equally charming sister ski resort nestled prettily in the Engadine valley and home to the luxuriously calm Nira Alpina hotel.
The Nira Alpina lies glowing at the bottom of Mount Corvatsch, more like a wooden ice yacht than your typical chalet with staggering views from every transparent glass wall that create a feeling of light airiness, enhanced by the whiteness of the snow in winter and most likely – though we’re yet to experience it first hand – the shimmering lakes and blue skies in the summer. Its quirky in design with cow hide stools in the bar, blown up images of seductive fashion shoots lining the walls, giant cherry sculptures on the top floor restaurant and a horse with a lamp floating above its head at reception. It could be chaotic and tasteless; instead it’s fun, relaxed and playful, confidentially unstuffy and self-assured. The Nira Alpina is the type of place you feel totally comfortable strolling around in your long johns and knee high socks, just as you might in a friends ski chalet, though here the service is undoubtedly better and more attentive.
The hotels two dining options follow suit with the hotels philosophy of warm authenticity, with most ingredients locally sourced. The downstairs Trattoria is cosy and intimate with a traditionally Italian menu of hearty, flavoursome dishes, whilst the upstairs Stars Restaurant (so named for the breathtaking skyline views) is the venue for breakfast and dinner with an eclectic menu of international cuisine. Our favourite picks were the wasabi-crusted prawns to start, followed by Japanese inspired miso salmon and a dangerously delicious chocolate gateau cake to finish with a small sip of chocolate grappa for a digestif (a secret recipe generously shared by the Trattorias chef, though unfortunately not yet on the official guest menu).
The Nira Spa by Pure Altitude, like the rest of the hotel, makes the most of its postcard perfect setting with windows overlooking the nursery runs that trail past the hotel’s door, whilst the five treatment rooms are tucked at the back for complete relaxation. Our hour-long Alpine Journey massage, utilising hot stones and sticks to gently ease out tight knots, was one of the best we’ve experienced and set us in a dreamy daze for the rest of the evening.
Four words: Ski in-ski out. Theres nothing worse than lugging you ski kit around, but fortunately, the hotel is handily attached, by a covered walkway, to the Corvatsch cable car station, so you can get from room to slopes in a matter of minutes. Admittedly, the runs are a little limited on the Corvatsch mountain for ski fanatics, but it’s a good way to ease back into it, before hopping over to St. Moritz (less than a ten minute bus journey or taxi) for a wider selection. There’s also ice-skating and ice hockey on the lakes that spread out majestically below the hotel, as well as various special events for guests of Nira Alpina such as Gin & Tonic tastings at the rooftop bar.
In a Nutshell
It was with true regret that we packed our bags; having been convinced to one day retire to the Swiss Alps, and in the more immediate future, to return to Nira Alpina in the Summer months when skiing is swapped for hiking, mountain biking and water skiing. Switzerland, you may just be our new favourite destination.
Rooms cost from £236 per night during winter.
Words by Millie Walton