A palace surrounded by green grass, a river and mountains

Exterior view of the 19th-century Grand Hotel Kronenhof in the Swiss Alps

In a high valley near St Moritz, the Kronenhof in Pontresina combines Swiss culture with a Mediterranean mountain vibe. Who needs Portofino?

One of the drawbacks of being in the mountains is that you are at the bottom of a valley, in the shade, when all around you is bathed in sun. This is not a problem that the Kronenhof, in Pontresina, will ever have. The village of Pontresina is located on a south- facing shelf, above the bottom of the valley that connects St Moritz, in Switzerland, with the Bernina Pass over to Italy.

The entrance of the Grand Hotel Kronenhof

The Kronenhof, in prime position on this shelf, feels like it is floating above the forest coating the valley floor (and dropping into a precipitous gorge, if you look closely enough). And from the lawns outside its swimming pool area in summer, you can see the Alps lined up, facing you, glowing gold-green in the sun.

A whirlpool by a window with a forest outside

The whirlpool inside the hotel’s spa

It’s a strange and wonderful feeling, being here in summer. On the one hand, you are 1,800m (about 6,000ft) up in the mountains; the air is very precise, very pure, and will leave normal people puffing if they try to run.

A whirlpool by a window with a forest outside

The whirlpool inside the hotel’s spa

But on the other hand, this is the southern side of the Alps, contiguous with northern Italy and the South of France.

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The mountains to the north hold back the wet northern European weather and this is one of the sunniest parts of the continent, meaning you can sunbathe most days during the summer, while gazing up the valley, opposite, at the glaciers of the Bernina mountain range.

a bedroom

The luxury Bellaval suite, offering the most spectacular views in the hotel

If it does rain, just step inside. The pool, possibly the best in Switzerland, has a glasshouse view of the scenery, as well as a very therapeutic series of vitality pools and spa, above.

A bar with wooden walls and ceilings and red velvet chairs

The Kronenhof Bar

Upstairs, the newly refurbished bar has brought a little urban chic to this mountain outpost, but, above all, this is a classic Alpine luxury retreat. The bars and clubs of St Moritz might be just a 10-minute drive away, round the forest, but you come to the Kronenhof, with its contemporary-chic bedrooms and light and views, to be in the centre of the high Alps, and also away from everywhere.

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Hike up the mountain and to the Segantini Hut with its views across half of Switzerland, visit the Alp Languard panoramic restaurant for a lunch of local roesti and meats, and be back for an apero in the bar. And then there’s the 200-year- old Kronenstübli restaurant with 16 Gault Millau points…

Find out more: kronenhof.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX