For me Switzerland is always the quintessential ski destination. Its Alpine charm and beauty far surpass those of other ski destinations. I spent many childhood holidays careering down the mountain slopes and gaining my ski legs so it was Swiss nostalgia as much as anything that led us to book the stunning Valsana Hotel in Arosa which opened at the end of 2018. Its a high altitude resort which makes the snowfall more reliable – nothing worse than arriving on a ski holiday to no snow…
After a quick flight from London to Zurich (1 hr 20) with British Airways (SO much better than the budgets), we had a rather long but very beautiful 3 hour drive out of the city, across the valley with its picturesque lakes and up in to the mountains.
We arrived in Arosa under cover of night. The 40 room Valsana is a warm and welcoming design hotel. Lots of pattern and wood, chalk boards with daily messages, a roaring fire, honesty wine bar and SO much hospitality. From the get go the managers and their team couldn’t do enough to help. Not in the smarmy slightly awkward way that you often find in luxury hotels; the team – dressed in a laid back uniform of casual trousers and shirts – were personable, helpful and genuinely lovely.
Our room was huge. On waking the next day we drew back the curtains in our corner suite to discover floor to ceiling windows with aspects across the sunlit mountains and frozen Obersee lake. Utterly stunning. As well as a Nespresso coffee machine, record player and selection of tunes, mini library, free minibar and Swiss chocolate!
Breakfast was a healthy yet also indulgent affair. Lots of fuelling up for the days skiing ahead. Whilst we enjoyed coffee and Swiss eggs reception organised our ski lift passes before we popped down to the handy equipment hire shop in the basement of the hotel (affiliated with a larger shop in the town).
And then for the skiing! 60 km of glorious south facing runs – lots of blues and reds, some nicely challenging blacks – and the option to ski over to the other side of the Weisshorn mountain and explore Lenzerheide-Valbella regions. Arosa is at 1,775m and the top lift is at 2,650m making it a great destination for snow. They’ve invested in snow cannons and their lift system (which is excellent). The pistes are good for beginners and intermediates plus there is plenty of freeriding for boarders and a freestyle park with mini tube and various jumps.
There are a couple of ski schools in Arosa – we used Ski Schule Arosa who I have to say were fantastic. Coco had a private lesson and then a few afternoons of group lessons and they allowed us to be flexible when she was unwell.
After a day on the slopes we headed back to Valsana to make use of the spa and wellness facilities – a pretty pool with various jets to massage sore legs, feet and shoulder. There is also a Finnish sauna (with views of the forest), steam room and relaxation area which includes hot and cold Kneipp plunge pools. In true Swiss style no swimwear is allowed in the sauna and steam rooms but they do provide towels for British modesty!
And then theres the food…. Valsana’s in house restaurant Twist offers an astounding array of healthy choices. On the first night I had Zoodles – courgette noodles with japanese style vegetables in soya sauce, whilst Matt had green curry. There is a huge vegetarian and vegan choice. I have never experienced a restaurant quite like it – the food was really really good – and really healthy… so we made up for it with a bottle from the amazing Swiss wine selection… !
Arosa is a pretty big place – it would take at least 30 mins to walk from one side to the other. Theres a good selection of restaurants, but I’m delighted to say that we found the very best three which are listed below:
Aifach. A very cool, laid back restaurant – super friendly – we sat at the kitchen bar and watched the chefs prepare food. Theres one daily set menu thats served – I think we paid about £60 per head for three courses. The food was delicious – salads with cheeses and fruit, risotto, Matt had some meat concoction which he loved… I’m not a food blogger as you can tell – I’m good at eating it but always forget to take photos! But theres a reason this place is in the Top 2 dining destinations of Arosa and in my view, if it were in London it would be sold out every night.
Bullrian. The sister restaurant to Aifach. The Swiss prices really kicked in with this one and we were shocked at the bill – but no regrets as it really was delicious! Also a restaurant where one daily set menu is served. We started with a selection of tapas, followed by an artichoke for me and a steak for Matt. So much food…. but we ate it all and rolled back to the Valsana feeling very happy!
And last but not least Alpenblick which we loved so much we went twice! Only accessible by foot or horsedrawn sleigh, Alpenblick is located on the mountainside next to the ski slopes. We borrowed sleds from the Valsana and took a taxi as far as we could before completing the last 20 minutes on foot.
Food wise this place is geared up for meat! A huge grill with a variety of different cuts were on display. But its also pretty good for veggies. We had one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever tasted, followed by a cheese fondu and rounded off with a homemade millefeuille.
After feasting and a great card game, we unhitched our sleds and sped back down the snowy runs to the town where our taxi took us back to our beds. It was such a memorable evening!
We absolutely loved Arosa. It wasn’t brilliant for ski-in ski-out but it was easy enough to get around. Theres a bus stop a couple of minutes walk from the hotel that gets you to the kids ski school area in about 10 minutes, or you can walk 8 minutes to the cable car. We skied all the way back to the town a couple of times, but the bus was handy to get back from ski school if thats where you ended up at the end of the day.
We used Alp Transfer to get quotes for a private car from Zurich to Arosa. It was around £400 return which wasn’t cheap but made life easy (apparently the train journey into Arosa is beautiful but you need to change in Chur first).
For more info on Valsana visit their website