Winter sports enthusiasts will have a hard time finding a more spectacularly romantic holiday or honeymoon-ready destination than Switzerland, a playground for skiing, snowboarding and even horse-drawn sleigh rides through the powder.
Although not quite as snowy, Zurich is a perfect place to start such a trip. Known as a global finance center, the northern city really feels more like a charming European town, with less than 400,000 people and impeccably clean streets and Old Town cobblestones on which to stroll and shop for overwhelming amounts of shops selling chocolate, lingerie, jewelry and flowers. (It’s almost like it’s Valentine’s Day every day.) In the coldest months, you’ll see fountains full of vibrant blooms, frozen on the surface after being tossed in at the end of business by florists.
The only real overnight option if you’re looking for character, comfort and luxury is The Dolder Grand, the five-star hotel in a circa 1899 building on bucolic Adlisberg Hill, overlooking the lake and, in the distance, jagged mountains. The “grand” its name tells you a lot about the place. It’s a wonder in itself—you can skip museums if you’re a guest here, since the entire hotel (even the grounds surrounding) is chock full of world-class modern art by the likes of Andy Warhol, Fernando Botero, Zaha Hadid and Salvador Dalí. There’s even an iPad tour you can take. The rooms themselves are opulently outfitted and glamorous, without feeling ostentatious. If you really want to splurge, book a butler-aided one-of-a-kind suite like the one known as the Rolling Stones suite (Keith Richards’ guitar is part of the decor) or the sumptuous Carezza suite, inspired by Alberto Giacometti.
The property is beside the largest open-air ice skating rink in all of Europe, and everyone knows it’s a total blast to glide around the ice, mittened hand-in-hand, with your honey. Or try sledding on the golf course in front. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Leonardo DiCaprio has indulged in the massive, award-winning spa’s treatments and array of offerings, which include sunaburo tubs filled with smooth warming stones, a snow paradise room and a disco ball-esque meditation space. At 43,000 square feet, there is enough to keep you in a state of bliss for days. Not to miss: A turn in one of the opulent spa suites—mud bath for two and massage, anyone?—and the spectacular view from three infinity-edge outdoor jacuzzi tubs (cold, hot and hotter). The cherry on top of a perfect Swiss day is hands-down a tasting dinner at chef Heiko Nieder’s glamorous mirrored and Michelin-starred The Restaurant, where bubbly should kick off a truly unforgettable dining adventure that weaves through sexy, imaginative courses and ends in housemade chocolate—the ultimate aphrodisiac.
For the truly snow-drenched portion of your trip, hop the sparkling train to the most charming Alpine town ever: Gstaad. It looks like a storybook, and serving as the Disney castle in the scenario is Gstaad Palace, a picture-perfect hotel that makes the ideal hub for a skiing or snowboarding fun on all the peaks surrounding it. Unmistakably luxurious, the family-run property is far from stuffy or gaudy. Elegant and classy are more like it—you can channel Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (along with other Old Hollywood greats Brigitte Bardot, Ava Gardner, Julie Andrews, Frank Sinatra and more) while cozying up with festive Champagne cocktails on plush couches in front of the Lobby Bar’s grand fireplace, and by night dining in The Grill, served by bow-tied waiters and entertained by live musicians.
When you’re not hitting the slopes on a bluebird day—or testing your appetite for adrenaline on the 9,800 foot-high Peak Walk suspension bridge—a short stroll down the hill gets you to town, where even designer boutiques like Chanel are dressed up in Alpine chic lattice-y wooden facades and twinkly lights. The Olden, Michelin-starred Chesery and Posthotel Rossli are major dining draws of “downtown,” which couldn’t be more charming or authentic. And you can après with libations at Work off the food with a cardio session in the Palace’s gym—which has ultra-motivating Alpine views—by swimming or soaking in the steamy outdoor pool-slash-jacuzzi or dance it off in the iconic ‘70s-styled GreenGo nightclub. And then indulge some more: A horse-drawn sleigh ride into the Alps for traditional cheese fondue (for a quaint, ultra local experience go to Mattestübli) has to be the most romantic way to wrap up a ski trip.