Top Lift: 2908m
Ski area: 250km of piste
Adult lift pass: 321CHF for six days
In a Nutshell
A quaint village with exclusive hotels and smart chalets, benign and uncrowded pistes. A growing number of stylish three-stars are helping to make the resort more affordable these days, but its low altitude limits snow cover.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
Once the winter home of the glitterati, Gstaad has seen many of its stars move on to other galaxies. In the 1970s you could easily find yourself sharing a chair-lift with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, David Niven, or Princess Grace of Monaco. But times change and the next generations of celebrities have gone to seek fresh pastures.
Diehards still migrate annually to the Gstaad Palace where Peter Sellers famously plunged into the fountain in The Pink Panther, and Louis Armstrong sang away the post-war blues. Roger Moore long ago relocated to Crans Montana, and visits by Julie Andrews are rarer than Edelweiss.
So who visits Gstaad these days? It’s mainly Swiss from Zurich and Bern who own the large chalets and stay in the sumptuous hotels here, along with a smattering of international guests. It certainly isn’t a magnet for expert skiers, as the pistes are too tame. However, the amount of skiing covered by the regional lift pass does begin to compensate for the absence of gradient. Glacier 3000 at Les Diablerets, 21km away, provides reliable snow and the slopes are generally fairly uncrowded.
The pedestrianised Hauptstrasse is the main shopping street, selling the full range – from sporting goods to haute couture like Cartier and Hermès. However, Lorenz Bach is by far the best boutique in town and showcases all the top designer labels. Pernet is a luxury delicatessen selling everything from wines to over 20 different cooking oils, and Von Siebenthal is a department store showcasing the sort of beautifully-made Swiss household equipment you’d expect. The resort also has a good choice of places to eat, many offering gourmet cuisine.
If you’re here in January, make sure you get over to Chateau d’Oex, half an hour away by train, for the world’s premier mountain hot-air ballooning event. Around 100 balloons take part from over 20 different countries and it’s a riotous spectacle of soaring shapes and colours.