Crystal (SLH) - St. Moritz
St. Moritz - a name of glamour and prestige regarding winter holidays since 1864, where Shahs, playboys and all the other jet set of the 60s and 70s reigned supreme and today mingle with the newly rich and wannabe riches. Located in the always sunny, but high-altitudinal, Engadin county of Switzerland it really delivered on the clearest air I have experienced at -4° F (-20° C) in mid-December. Similar to the heat of Dubai, it was a dry cold that felt slightly more bearable than elsewhere.
I tested two hotels that won’t vaporise your bank account like the Badrutt’s Palace, the Carlton, the Kulm or the Suvretta House will do (in the main winter season starting from 800 USD per night): The Crystal hotel in the center of town and the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains at the foot of the lake. I will cover the latter in another post.
The Crystal hotel is part of the SLH network, and, uncommon for them, only has 4 stars. This doesn’t have to be bad - I stayed at wonderful 4 or 3 star hotels - but does the Crystal surprise with unsuspected wonder?
The Crystal is in the center of the old town of St. Moritz directly next to a huge parking garage and the main bus terminal. When I pulled my car over, there was no one to greet me or take my car. Guess that would be the fifth star in the hotel rating. Anyway, I didn’t expect that, so no harm done.
What did disappoint me was that I didn’t get any upgrade, something I came to expect from my top level SLH status. The receptionist didn’t give me any indication that they even tried, which annoyed me the most. I wouldn’t have chosen this hotel if it wasn’t for SLH.
The atmosphere was alpine, but the old-fashioned style. Unfortunately not the “old” that I like, but rather the “old” that is out of fashion ;).
The style-discussion (I had with myself) continued in the room. The excessive wood paneling is not what I would’ve done and the furniture was not making things better either. While I like wood and other natural materials, the type of wood used and furniture design did not impress.
Another problem was the smell in the room: It came from the drainage - and I never expected this in Switzerland, which is pretty much the cleanest country in the world. It can happen to any bathroom, I guess, but housekeeping should realise it and report it to someone who can fix it before the guest gets to his room.
The view from my room was towards the parking garage, to be precise: the top of the garage. This was slightly better than a level below, but still not really impressive.
The bathroom on the other hand was quite nice.
I didn’t have dinner in the restaurant, so I can only comment on the breakfast: not really up to par, meaning I had much better choice and quality at other four star places for a similar price.
I like one thing about their interior design: the (real) fire place. I had my after dinner cognac here and it was very cozy. I was there alone and overlooked the restaurant. There were only a few tables occupied, I guess December before Christmas is not the main winter season yet. Fine by me, as I had all the attention of the restaurant staff for me, e.g. for keeping the fire going.
To answer my initial question: unfortunately no, the Crystal did not surprise. I was even underwhelmed, as I have expected something better from an SLH property even it being a 4 star hotel.
While service was ok in general, there was one hiccup regarding late checkout. I asked the late shift at reception for one the next day, which he noted down. The next day, I checked out before the agreed-upon 2 pm and got scolded by the day shift receptionist! I had to explain myself like a criminal. She didn’t even check about my SLH status, which would make clear that asking for a late checkout was not that far fetched.
I can not recommend the Crystal and would find something else in St. Moritz. How about the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains? With GHA Discovery I actually paid a similar price for the five star grand hotel as for the Crystal. Find out in one of my next entries!