Why should I go there now?
The Belvédère is the hotel for top dignitaries at the World Economic Forum in Davos, held on the last week of this month; many of the most significant events are also held at the hotel, with a high likelihood of bumping into Emmanuel Macron, Bono, Bill Gates or Melania Trump (all at the same time).
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Unfortunately, if you’re not already on the global A-list, you’re not going to get a room at the Belvédère that week, no matter what you pay. But you might well be inspired by TV images of the handsome hotel façade and the mountain view beyond to visit the slopes of Davos at a less hectic time.
What’s the lowdown?
When it’s not hosting world leaders, Davos, along with the neighbouring village of Klosters, is at the centre one of Switzerland’s leading ski areas. The town is in a broad valley with skiing on four separate (and unfortunately not interconnected) mountains. Take the funicular up the most significant one of these, Parsenn, and you are rewarded with some of the prettiest and most varied skiing on a single mountain in the Alps; the long, sinuous red to the Schifer skilift alternates between open mountainside, gullies, and undulating forest.
And if you go before the end of February, you’ll maximise your chances of being able to complete one of the longest runs in Europe, which extends beyond Schifer, through forested hillsides, all the way down to Schiers, a 30-minute train ride from Davos. The total distance from peak to valley is 12km, all of it relatively easy. And this is Switzerland, so everything from ski and boot hire to lift operation to the buses running the length of the village, is beautifully efficient.
Unlike many ski resorts, Davos came of age as a spa town in the 19th century and the grandeur of the Belvédère reflects this era – as does its service, which is more fin-de-siècle luxury than Alpine cosy. We particularly enjoyed dinner in the Restaurant Belvédère, which has recently been modernised: bare wood floors, contemporary art, but still thankfully with tablecloths and traditional waitstaff – this would not be a place for a Soho House-style makeover. There was still a hint of Belle Epoque about the place; and another dinner in the Romeo & Julia Fondue Tavern featured a fabulously sourced and scented fondue.
Our room had a view across the rooftops to the mountains opposite; furnishings were traditional and the balcony was a fine place for a last schnapps of the day. There was also a good pool and spa area.
Unlike its neighbour Klosters, Davos is a rather functional town, not a village, so you won’t have the cute atmosphere of some of the Alpine resorts; and with no slopes above 2900m, it is best experienced when you are surest of snow – try zipping there before the WEF begins this month (though you’ll have to mind the temporary construction work and security at the Belvédère), or when everything is over in early February. The snow’s fabulous at the moment.
Rates: From 191.20 CHF ( approx. £150 / $200 /€150)