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Le Grand Bellevue
Hauptstrasse, Gstaad, Switzerland | bellevue-gstaad.ch

When it comes to reaching anywhere off the beaten track (i.e a destination not entirely manageable with a local taxi straight out the airport), somewhere remotely remote and high up/buried deep on a mountain there is bound to be a fair amount of schlepping involved. By this I mean that for most of the journey you will most likely drag your overstuffed wheelie on uneven terrain while juggling local currency + a pocket-full of relevant/irrelevant ticket stubs + some really dodgy foreign language skills. You will most definitely quiver as you look out for your stop, half certain that you missed it some time ago and because there is suddenly a lake outside the window when your destination is a ski-resort.

Lest we forget, the Swiss efficiency knows no schlep. This is no ordinary night on the Overground from Haggerston to Hackney Central. And for this to work you’d have started with a Swiss flight, whereon the doors close bang-on-the-dot and touchdown like butter on warm toast (perhaps not always but our flight out of Heathrow was what all flights should be). The glass-ceiling Golden Pass train from Montreux glides by quaint villages and perhaps the most sensational scenery in Europe. The phenomenally glassy Lake Geneva is but a teaser to the view that unveils at 900 meters above sea level. And hey, wasn’t the mountain to our right when we departed?

On arrival into Gstaad, a vintage Bentley collects us to go the last 100m down to Le Grand Bellevue, our final stop. The driver tells us the car was formerly owned by Roger Moore. See, the schlep never happens.

Coat – Woolrich. Cashmere sweater – The White Company. Bag – Celine. Jeans – 7 for All Mankind. Hat – H&Ma

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Le Grand Bellevue is warm – almost homey if not for the resident five-star service. If the canary-yellow façade wasn’t hint enough, plush velvet and fabric sofas give it away immediately on arrival. We are handed a brass pineapple at check-in. Attached, a key (!) that opens the door to our room under the cone tower of the East Wing. We abandon our bags and head down to recharge with the afternoon tea by a crackling fire, available at the lounge daily. After a plate of scones and a few chapters of airport-bought Grisham later, we drift back to the room – drunk on the aroma of burnt wood and a hint of peppermint or lavender wafting from the lift coming from the spa floor. Rest tonight, tomorrow we’re going skiing.

More in Part two, coming soon!

Park & Cube was a guest of Le Grand Bellevue, all views and opinions are my own. The season ends March 31, and re-opens for summer June 24th so make sure to book before then to catch the ski-season!

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Grüezi aus Zürich! (Gear up for the mother of all long posts!)

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Make My Switzerland app, available on Android and iPhone

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Can you believe how clear the water is?!

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Viadukt, ze ‘hip’ corner, North-West Zurich

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Frau Gerolds Garten and the Freitag tower

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Züri Fäscht

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Top – Amber Sakai. Shorts – Thierry Colson. Bag – JinYoo103684. Shoes – H by Hudson. Bar necklace – Kirsten Goss Urban Edge.

The first time I was in Zürich I was back in uni, on a layover home from London to Warsaw during the winter holidays – I arrived in the night, watched the first snow fall, and left at dawn. Hey, I was 21 and practically wearing a diaper, what did I know about efficiency? It’s the age when you turn a 2.5h flight into a 10h one (commonly known now as the Ryanair logic) and still call it an adventure. I locked my luggage at the airport and took a train into the city with just a DSLR, which turned out was missing the memory card. A good friend took me around town at midnight and the city was completely empty and quiet. It was so beautiful. Nothing was recorded, and in the morning I packed up the unused camera and took the first plane out.

Now, I have no idea who found out about that trip, because my second visit was precisely the opposite and fulfilling everything that was missing from the first. As a guest of the Swiss Tourism board, I was invited to the city of Zürich to test out the Make My Switzerland app ahead of its launch. It was July, we boarded a Swiss flight on a midsummer morning, blasting with air conditioning and oozing with general Swiss efficiency. It was the height of the Züri Fäscht, a festival that happens every three years, reportedly attracting 2 million visitors from around Europe (Zürich itself only has a population of 1.83 million, mind). My camera was appropriately equipped, as I’m sure you can see, with even a spare card and battery in my back pocket. Clifford Lilley, one of the ambassadors for the app and one firework of a character, took me around ze ‘hip’ areas of town (Viadukt/Frau Gerolds Garten) on rented bicycles, which also turns out to be the best way to travel within the city. Later I attempted to see the Old Town in daylight with my favourite style crusader, Jen and Fred, and ended up spending most of the afternoon repeatedly getting separated and looking for each other in the crowd. Eventually we gave up and resorted to one of their favourite past-times as locals: a dip in the canal, which is pretty much like swimming in a bottle of Evian (straight out of the fridge, brr!). If you’re anything like me and enjoy seeing cities with a bit of peace and quiet, visit Zürich any time of the year, except the three days during Zuri Fäscht. (Also ideal if you do plan on using the app) But if you’re looking to be a part of the greatest summer celebration, with the biggest fireworks and the most civilized (?) festival etiquette I’ve experienced in my life, then book your tickets now for 2016.

A big thank you to the Swiss Tourism Board for the hospitality!