Known as a winter playground for the well-to-do, the Swiss Alps offer infinite ‘gram-worthy landscapes, top-notch skiing, and of course a lot of cheese, chocolate, and wine. While the Alpine mountains are dotted with many old-world properties, a new hotel has arrived, and if you’re looking for more modern, eco-friendly digs in Switzerland, consider Valsana.
Budget Level: Luxe ($400+/night)
Lodging Type: Medium-Size Hotel (40 rooms)
What You Need to Know
Taking inspiration from its natural surroundings, the modern ski chalet-style hotel in the town of Arosa welcomes guests into an expansive open lobby/restaurant/bar space, complete with a large terrace overlooking the mountains. With oak parquet floors, botanical prints, and rustic furnishings, the property includes 40 rooms, as well as nine apartments. Its 8,600-square-foot spa features a relaxation pool, gym, yoga studio, steam bath, and saunas, all made from reclaimed wood. Back in the day, the town of Arosa was known as a sanatorium hot spot and the hotel embraces that history—each room comes with a large balcony and hammock for breathing in that fresh mountain air.
But perhaps the most impressive feature is something totally hidden from guests: the hotel’s “ice battery.” Basically, it's a network of pipes throughout the property that absorbs excess energy from everyday gadgets like appliances. That “wasted” energy is then channelled into a water tank. As the energy is used, the water temperature in the tank drops allowing an ice block to form. The combined effect of freezing and thawing allows the hotel to harness a lot of latent energy, while producing zero emissions. Valsana is the first hotel in Switzerland to utilize this type of energy recovery system.
The relaxed, laid-back feel of Valsana, which is owned by the Tschuggen Hotel Group, brings to mind a type of Brooklyn-esque aesthetic and lifestyle. In each room, a small stash of second-hand books and a vintage-style record player offer retro touches to the thoroughly modern hotel, which focuses on sustainability and wellness. The on-site restaurant, Twist, supports local suppliers and offers healthy veggie options like zoodles and quinoa with pesto, as well as wheat- and lactose-free alternatives. (It’s a welcome digestive respite from the heavier cheese, bread, and meat dishes that are in abundance throughout the region.)
Who Will Love It
Millennial-minded travelers (of all ages) will appreciate this fresher take on the traditional ski resort with its homey atmosphere that includes weekly film nights, modern comfort food, and a lived-in feel.
Who Might Not
Arosa is not an après-ski party town like St. Moritz or Aspen, and the hotel reflects that with its quiet, tranquil vibe. If you’re looking for a buzzy social scene, this secluded resort might not fit the bill.
While most Alps visitors choose to get their workout on the slopes, motivated guests can sign up for on-site personal training and yoga classes through the hotel’s partnership with renowned German holistic fitness training company R1 Sportsclub. Both private and group sessions are offered, with some complimentary group classes for hotel guests. Private training sessions, including nutrition coaching, start at about $100 and private yoga classes for one to two people are about $160. Advanced booking is required.
WiFi, in-room use of a Samsung tablet, mini bar with soft drinks and coffee, breakfast, access to the spa, shuttle service to and from the train station, and use of the Arosa bus during your stay are complimentary.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
All food and beverages (excluding the complimentary breakfast) cost extra. The VAT (value-added tax) is already included in the price, but local tax is not. Also, the hotel charges about $27 per day to bring a dog. Mountain bikes, sleds, and Nordic walking and hiking poles are available to rent.
How to Get a Deal
During peak ski season, standard rooms start in the mid-$400 range per night (January and February are considered high season in Switzerland). To secure the lowest price, book a non-refundable rate, which could save you about $20 a night. The hotel also offers a host of special packages, such as a two-night stay from March 4-28 that includes an aperitivo and two dinners for $490 a night. If skiing isn’t your thing, you can score less expensive rooms for around $200 per night after peak season ends. (The hotel closes after ski season at the beginning of April and reopens June 22.)
In the Neighborhood
Located at the entrance of Arosa village, Valsana is surrounded by the Graubünden mountains, which are the reason why you visit — whether to ski, hike, bike, or just stare at the insanely beautiful scenery. While the town is limited in terms of non-sporty attractions, there are plenty of tasty après-ski options to satisfy your Swiss cravings such as Hornlihutte, which serves classic dishes like rösti (a belly-warming potato fritter) and gooey fondue, and the Alpenblick Restaurant, which boasts a mountainside farm with chickens, ducks, rabbits, and goats.
It’ll take about 2.5 hours by car or about 3 hours by train from Zurich International Airport to get to Valsana. A round-trip Swiss Transfer Ticket is your best and cheapest option to get to and from the airport. First-class tickets cost $262 and second class about $164. The hotel offers free shuttle service from the train station, which you can schedule when you book your stay.
Nearest Public Transit
The train station is a few minutes' walk from the hotel, and a local bus stop is located right in front. As for traveling the mountains, a giant cable car connects Arosa and Lenzerheide, creating the skiing region of Graubünden, which has 140 miles of slopes.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, consider this under-the-radar Swiss town and the eco-luxe Valsana for your next European getaway.