Travel

Skiing in Switzerland: take a ‘city break’ in the mountains at Flims

Posted by
Lisa Smosarski
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Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski swaps Alpine cliches for urban cool in Switzerland.

Say the word ‘Alpine’ and you’ll likely imagine something akin to a Christmas card. Snow-covered wooden lodges clustered in valleys, restaurants filled with red and white checked tablecloths, fondues, raclettes and perhaps the odd fur throw or pair of antlers on wooden walls. The Sound Of Music meets The Snowman. But there is a new face of the Alps emerging in Flims in Switzerland, where high design collides with urban living to create an entirely new Alpine experience.

The Hide is a design hotel that opened in 2018 and is tucked away in the corner of the brutalist-inspired Stenna complex – a new lifestyle centre that also houses shops, museums, bars and apartments – right next to the Flims base station ski lifts. 

Switzerland: pine trees, snow-capped peaks...okay we're on board with some of the cliches.
Switzerland: pine trees, snow-capped peaks...okay we're on board with some of the cliches.

The hotel, which is set over all four floors of the building, is sandwiched between a car park, Co-op and a curious museum called Sciencity. Once inside the hotel the concourse disappears, but we’d occasionally find ourselves back inside the Stenna building rather than heading down the corridor to our room as we’d expected. Handy when you want to nip to the shops or doctor’s surgery; less handy when you’ve forgotten to put your shoes on.

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Entering the hotel through the discreet lobby feels more akin to walking into a dark Manhattan party hotel than an Alpine retreat. The luxurious dusky purples and greens, low lighting and graphic wallpaper languishes alongside an obligatory firepit, fur-clad benches and coffee tables piled high with stylish tomes. The fabrics are soft, the colours are warm and the fresh scent of grapefruit makes everywhere feel fresh.

Our open-plan bedroom followed suit, combining traditional wood and raw stone with plush carpets and geometric print wallpapers. It is cosy but vibrant, and the large windows onto the slopes, plus a generous balcony, make the rooms feel large and bright.

Switzerland: The Hide in Flims has a prime location and great access to all the best slopes.
Switzerland: The Hide in Flims has a prime location and great access to all the best slopes.

The Hide is unbelievably well located, just seconds from the Foppa ski lift that will whisk you up and out in minutes to the Flims-Laax-Falera ski area – one of the largest in Switzerland. From our room we could see when the lifts opened in the morning to be first on the slopes, and could ski back down to Die Terasse, the bar on the ground floor of our hotel, perfectly placed to catch the last of the sun over a glass of crisp white wine while listening to the resident DJ. For beginners, or those with children, the hotel is seconds from the ski school, and you need only walk a few metres to the nursery slopes. 

Powder Byrne have a brilliant set-up for those skiing with their families, with ski school and childcare included in the price. Children under three are cared for in the creche at a neighbouring hotel, whilst the Yeti Club ski school takes children over the age of 3 onto the nursery slopes – and beyond – from 8.30am-4pm, leaving the adults to head off on their own guided tours.

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The linked slopes of Flims-Laax-Falera are ideal for beginner, fair-weather and intermediate skiers, with plenty of easy, wide slopes, valley runs and beautiful forest routes. The network of 28 lifts means you can easily travel the entire area and, if you ski to one of the neighbouring villages, such as Laax, the Powder Byrne team will pick you up and whisk you back to your hotel. We visited towards the end of the season in April and the pistes were so clear we’d often get a run with only a few other skiers in sight.

The Vorab Glacier and freeriding slopes, plus a popular snow park, keep more experienced skiers entertained too. Over two-thirds of the runs are at above 2,000m and we did have reduced visibility on some days, barely being able to see our own hands due to an unexpected snowfall, but thanks to our intrepid Powder Byrne mountain guides (as part of the package you have the option of heading out on daily guided tours, which always includes lunch at a different piste-based location) we were able to use their knowledge of the mountains to get a good run in the middle of the cloud.

Switzerland: Lisa takes to the slopes - post-feast, of course.
Switzerland: Lisa takes to the slopes - post-feast, of course.

As is tradition on a ski holiday where you need constant fuelling, food is high on the agenda and Flims didn’t disappoint.

Although there were plenty of classic fondues and raclettes on offer, unusually we found other cuisines like Nooba in nearby Laax, a posh Wagamama-style restaurant serving Asian fusion, and The Hide Deli in our own hotel, offering numerous Middle Eastern-inspired dishes including delicious harissa olives and moreish flatbreads. Getting around the neighbouring towns was easy thanks to the complimentary car service, which meant the après could continue well into the evening. We also loved Tegia Miez for lunch, a small hut on a piste between Crap Sogn Gion and Alp Dado serving simple charcuterie, cheeses and soup, which was about as picturesque and cosy as you could imagine, and Capalari at Crap Sogn Gion for heavenly dumplings in raclette cheese.

If Alpine food isn’t for you, head to the hotel’s main restaurant, The Hide Dining. It delivers a more upmarket menu, fine dining with a twist – the smoked salmon and broccoli with harissa melted in the mouth – and I was impressed to see so many vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. As a pescatarian, it is the first time I’ve returned from a trip to Switzerland without feeling like I’d turned into a wheel of cheese.

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After all that skiing, eating and drinking, there is only one other thing you could possibly need – a spa. Nothing says ‘mountain air’ more than a dip in thermal waters or a hot tub. And luckily, The Hide has seen to that too, with a new spa that opened earlier this year. The spa has a steam room, sanarium, rain showers, relaxation room, as well as a private spa area for two.

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But the jewel in the crown is the Finnish Panorama Sauna with mountain views, so you can stretch out your weary legs while gazing at the slopes that made them ache in the first place. The Hide successfully combines urban design and the convenience of a city break with everything you could want from a trip to the mountains… and there’s not a pair of antlers in sight.

Powder Byrne offers a double room at The Hide for a week outside of school holidays from £1,930 per person on a B&B basis; visit powderbyrne.com or call 020 8246 5300. All prices include accommodation as stated, luxury resort transfers, family-friendly flights from London and Powder Byrne’s renowned in-resort services including complimentary ski guiding for adults, transfers from the airport, complimentary resort driver service, 24/7 concierge and access to award-winning children’s programmes including the creche, Yeti Club and SnoZone kids clubs.

Images: Provided

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Lisa Smosarski

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