The Grand Hotel Kronenhof Pontresina could be considered an insider’s hideaway. Although only a short drive from glitzy St. Moritz and its sister property the Kulm St. Moritz, it is a world apart.
Classic Architecture and an eclectic mix of interior design styles
The fairy-tale like Neo-Baroque building, which is a registered historical landmark, stands in stark contrast to the surrounding traditional Engadine houses featuring sgraffito (traditional wall murals). As you enter the hotel, it’s almost like walking into a parallel world. I remember messaging a friend saying ‘I feel like a princess in the wilderness.’
The Grande Dame, as the hotel is also referred to, boasts a unique combination of interior styles that blend to a harmonious and luxurious ensemble. You’ll find beautifully restored Neo-Baroque features mixed with transitional French style, some mid-century classics as well as some rustic design elements and materials.
175 Years of History Make the Grand Hotel Kronenhof Pontresina a Hotel Rich in Heritage and in Experience
Much like other Belle Epoque hotels in Switzerland, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof dates back to the 19thcentury.
The family Gredig purchased the guesthouse ‘Rössli’ in 1848 and established a wine shop in the cellars. Adjacent to the guesthouse there was a stable for the horses which were used to transport the wine across the Bernina Pass. Both the guesthouse and the wine business were thriving and soon enough the owners decided to extend. The Neo-Baroque main building with its cupola was opened in 1889.
The first half of the 20th century brought on lots of turmoil and economic crisis. Although tourism was brought to a halt at the onset of both wars, the family business managed to survive thanks to their wine business. The 1928 Winter Olympics brought back the jetset for a short period, but it wasn’t until the 1948 Winter Olympics held in St. Moritz that tourism would return to the Upper Engadine in greater numbers. While those looking for a glamorous lifestyle would flock to St. Moritz, the ones seeking discretion and tranquillity would travel to Pontresina.
CONTINUOUS EXTENSIONS AND REFURBISHMENTS ENSURE AN ELEVATED GUEST EXPERIENCE FOR A DISCERNING CLIENTELE
Throughout the decades the Kronenhof, which now holds 112 rooms, would undergo several extensions, renovations and name changes. It was only after World War II that all guest rooms received their own bathrooms. A few years later the hotel received an indoor and an outdoor pool.
The Gredig family managed the Kronenhof for 141 years until the hotel was sold due to an inheritance dispute in 1989. The hotel thereafter changed hands a couple of times. In 2004 the Grand Hotel Kronenhof was purchased by the current owners, stock company Aktiengesellschaft ‘Grand Hotels Engadiner Kulm’.
The new owners, who already owned the Hotel Kulm St. Moritz, added 29 rooms and refurbished several of the older rooms and the corridors. To preserve the original character of this historic luxury hotel, they re-used and re-purposed many of the materials. For example, the 100-year old Pitch Pine Wood from the corridors was re-installed in the parquet floors of the Gourmet Restaurant Kronenstübli adding to its authentic rustic feel.
The Greek owners, the Niarchos family, who are the main shareholders, invest further 35 million into the Kronenhof in 2007. The extension comprised an underground car park, 28 additional rooms and an impressive wellness area of 2000m2. It was the hotel’s largest renovation since the 19th century.
Since 2016 there have been continuous renovations. The latest refurbishment was realised by award winning interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon and included the reception, the lobby lounge, the reading room, the bar, the cigar lounge and billiards room as well as some guest rooms. The French interior designer, who also redesigned several rooms at the Kulm St. Moritz, is known for his ability to combine historical and local elements with timeless elegance.
FROM CALM AND EARTHY TO BOLD AND EXTRAVAGANT INTERIORS
I got to call one of those redesigned Junior Suites home for a weekend. The elegant corner suite was bright and airy with panoramic views of the Swiss Alps, forests and the Roseg glacier. The suite, predominantly designed in earthy tones was a true haven of relaxation, featuring an ultra-comfortable bed, a living area and a marble bathroom. The neutral colour scheme, oak floors, the wood panelled walls and textured wallpaper exude elegance and style.
As always when staying at historic hotels, I love wandering through the corridors and explore the public areas of the hotel in great detail. Although the Grand Hotel Kronenhof features a myriad of architectural and interior styles, it all blends together harmoniously with just the right amount of contrast.
Other than my suite, I particularly loved the lobby lounge. Large windows with views of the wilderness and Neo-Baroque ceiling frescos held in soft hues of blue, pink and gold create a very romantic and soothing backdrop. Royal blue velvet sofas and armchairs as well as an impressive chandelier further enhance the grandeur of the space. Antique Chinese vases and table lamps as well as original antique artwork create a sophisticated, yet homely ambiance.
The bar on the other hand makes a very bold statement. While the colour red and aubergine dominate the space, they are combined with royal blue and gold, a classic colour palette reminiscent of many a historic house across Europe. Velvet seating, velvet drapery and pelmets add some old-world charm to the space. The moody lighting further emphasises the predominantly red interior and creates a somewhat boudoir ambiance.
WINE AND DINE AT KRONENHOF PONTRESINA
The elaborate frescoes by Otto Haberer in the Grand Restaurant date back to 1901 and remain the emblem of the Kronenhof to this day. Depicting the four seasons, they not only add to the theatrical ambiance of the dining hall, but also make the Grand Hotel Kronenhof one of the most significant Neo-Baroque buildings. Buffet breakfast and dinner is served here. White glove service and an elegant dress code in the evening make for a very classy dinner experience.
At the Restaurant Kronenstübli, which has been awarded 16 Gault Millau points, you’ll get to experience gourmet cuisine in a traditional Engadine setting. The cozy interiors feature the typical Engadine wall panelling, ceilings and benches made from Swiss pine wood. The authentic rustic interiors will give you a true sense of place.
The Restaurant Le Pavillon is housed in the wooden ice pavilion built in 1933 overlooking the hotel’s own ice rink in winter and the Val Roseg glaciers in the distance. Traditional Swiss cuisine is served in this alpine setting.
INDULGE IN RELAXATION, STAY ACTIVE OR BOTH – THE CHOICE IS YOURS
The spa at the Kronenhof is a true haven of relaxation. Multiple saunas, steam rooms, foot baths, a saltwater grotto and a solarium provided hours of indulgence for a spa enthusiast like me. There’s also an indoor pool, a jacuzzi and an outdoor pool set in a beautiful garden.
A state-of-the-art gym, pilates and yoga classes as well as countless outdoor activities make it easy to remain active, while staying at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. Pontresina and the Bernina region, have been popular for mountaineering since 1850, when mountain topographer Coaz was the first to reach the then still unnamed peak of the Bernina. It was Coaz who named the peak after the mountain owner of the mountain pass in – Mr. Bernini.
Having stayed at both the Kulm St. Moritz and the Kronenhof, people often ask me which one I preferred. It’s a tough questions, because both are very unique in their own way and both offer a very exclusive alpine experience. In terms of the overall stay, I loved them both, but in respect of the interior design, I’d say the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. Both feature a mix of styles, but I found the Grand Hotel Kronenhof to be more cohesive and harmonious.
Rich in history, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof is considered one of the best-preserved grand hotels in Switzerland as well as one of Switzerland’s top spa hotels.
Happy stylish discoveries!
Photography: Courtesy of the Grand Hotel Kronenhof Pontresina
Note: This blog post was created in collaboration with the hotel (press stay).