Encircled by precipitous peaks, Saas-Fee ski hotel The Capra balances rugged nature with well-stoked fires, a soothing spa and Swiss hospitality. Inspired by the serenity of the surrounding Alps, this chic chalet-style stay is a study in mountain pine, dark slate and soft tweed – an earthy, organic look that tips its hat to the local scenery. Even its name is rooted in the area, referencing the two-toned mountain goats that roam the nearby slopes. These hardy mountaineers make an apt emblem, as a yin-and-yang-esque sense of balance is at the heart of everything here. Rustic interiors hide heated floors and wireless entertainment systems; the indulgent fine-dining menu finds its equal in the state-of-the art spa. And, if you’re here to make the most of the first-class skiing, the hotel will whisk you to their slopeside ski cabin in a shuttle, offsetting effort with indulgence and ease.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Swiss wine and 10 per cent off spa treatments
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £297.65 (CHF370), including tax at 3.7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of CHF4.50 per person per night on check-out and an additional local city tax of CHF7.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include an à la carte breakfast; return transfers from the car park or bus station in Saas-Fee; transfers to the hotel’s slopeside ski cabin; access to the spa and fitness area; soft drinks in your minibar.
If you’re looking at a summer stay, consider one of the hotel’s week-long Peak Health retreats. These immersive experiences include everything from mountain fitness sessions to healthy cooking demonstrations. The idea is that you won’t just have a week-long detox, but will return home armed with the tools (and a realistic plan) to make the changes last for good.
The hotel is closed annually from late April to July, and from mid-September to early December.
At the hotel
Ski-in, ski-out cabin on the slopes; kid’s Fun Lab with games, table tennis, foosball and DVDs; free WiFi throughout; laundry service. In rooms: flatscreen TV; minibar; Nespresso coffee machine; tea-making kit; free bottled water; Bogner bath products.
Our favourite rooms
We’d go for a Signature Suite for its separate living room and larger terrace. If you’ve got family in tow, opt for the Family Suite, which comfortably sleeps four thanks to its hidden bunk beds.
The indoor pool is in the spa, flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the room with daylight. Columns of thick-cut slate and pinewood panelling give the room an appropriately alpine look, and there’s a glass-encased fire set into one wall for extra warmth. Beyond the glass, there’s a heated, adults-only plunge pool for those who prefer to have their post-ski soak in the crisp mountain air.
The Capra’s indulgent spa has a sauna and steam room; a salt therapy room; three treatment rooms; a relaxation area; a fully equipped gym; and a studio for fitness classes. It’s run by luxury spa brand Peak Health, who value magic-fingered therapists as much as anyone but also go heavy on the academic side, mingling established techniques with the latest science – try one of their high-tech facials or infrared sessions for proof. If you’re just looking for the quickest way to loosen your aching legs, go for one of the muscle recovery treatments.
Technical gear for the mountain; soft, cosy threads for the hotel.
All the common areas are wheelchair accessible, and one of the Signature Double Rooms has been specially adapted.
All ages are welcome. Little Smiths will love the Fun Lab, a dedicated kid’s room with table tennis, a foosball table, a PlayStation 4, DVDs, books and board games. Babysitting is available for CHF25 an hour; three days’ notice is needed when booking.
The wood-clad wine cellar can be booked for private dinners.
Chunky knits, mountaineer-inspired boots and the latest Moncler.
Dressed in grainy pine and burgundy leather, the Capra’s restaurant has the looks of a cosy mountain hut. Fittingly, the surrounding peaks and valleys are also the biggest source of inspiration when it comes to the food: the cuisine tends towards Alpine classics that have been given a creative rethink, taking diners on a tasting tour through the Valais and its neighbouring cantons. The restaurant is also committed to a sustainable farm-to-table approach, getting ingredients from local farmers and suppliers that care about the fine details – eco-friendliness included. Alongisde the heartier dishes, there are always healthy, balanced options designed to complement the Peak Health treatments and programs.
The Capra will be hosting ten fine-dining evenings across the 2019/2020 winter season. Held in the wine cellar, these dinners will be limited to 14 guests at a time, who’ll be served a five-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings. The dinners will be held on 19 and 26 December 2019; 2, 9 and 30 January 2020; 13, 20 and 27 February 2020; 5 and 26 March 2020.
The bar is in the lounge, an inviting space with a wood-burning stove, soft armchairs, cashmere blankets and artwork from the owner’s collection. Rocky mountains are visible through several windows, adding a dash of drama and making the room feel all the more cosy in contrast. After a long day on the slopes, unwind by the fire with a glass of the local Valais wine, the hotel’s speciality. They’ve also got plenty bottles from new and established wineries around the world, and the barman can make a mean martini to boot.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am; lunch from 11.30am to 6pm; dinner from 6pm to 11pm.
The full brasserie and lounge menus are available during restaurant hours; a reduced selection is available after dark.
The Capra is in Saas-Fee, a charming Swiss resort town surrounded by towering alpine peaks.
The closest place to touch down is Sion, which can be reached directly from London’s City and Heathrow airports. There’s only one flight a week, though, so most people fly into Geneva (three hours’ drive) or Zurich (three-and-a-half hours’) instead.
If you’d rather go by rail, hop on a service to Visp at Zurich or Geneva (you can catch trains from either airport's station, saving the need for a trip into town.) Both routes take around two hours, passing plenty of dramatic scenery on the way. Once you’ve arrived in Visp, you’ll need a taxi to take you the final 30 kilometers into Saas-Fee.
You’re unlikely to need your own set of wheels; Saas-Fee’s a compact town and the centre has been pedestrianised, making walking the best way to get around. If you do want to hire, the Smith24 team can arrange it.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Capra hasn’t skimped on the holy trinity of all good ski hotels – good eating, good drinking and a restorative spa. Most guests fall hard for the open-air plunge pool, sleek sauna and salt therapy room, which has a wall made from solid blocks of rocksalt. When it comes to the wining and dining, kill two birds with one stone by booking a private tasting and dinner in the hotel’s wine cellar, where the sommelier will introduce you to some of the best vintages to come out of the local region, Valais, home to the highest vineyards in Europe. As for the village, Saas-Fee’s biggest pull is its reliability as a ski resort: the surrounding mountains soar higher than most of the Alps, promising long seasons (the glacier offers year-round skiing) and good snow coverage, including feather-light champagne powder. To get the most out of your time in the resort, book in with Ski Zenit, an independent team of world-class instructors, off-piste guides and racing coaches. Whether you’re looking to learn parallel turns or drop 20-foot cliffs, their bespoke service will make it happen. It’s not all about the skiing, though. For something a little different, take the cable car up Hannig Mountain, where you’ll find the start of the 5km Adrenalin Sledging track, which runs all the way back to the village. Up the stakes by going on a Tuesday, when the track’s open for night runs. For a romantic evening that’ll set hearts soaring, book the Fondue Gondola, a candlelit dinner on the Spielboden gondola (the cars are spruced up with tablecloths, candles and sheepskin rugs). If you can, book to coincide with the full moon, when the mountains will be lit up in all their nocturnal majesty.
If you’re looking for a place on the mountain, don’t miss Längfluh, which has a sun-soaked terrace and panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. To get there, take the long button lift ride up the glacier which is rewarded by a sweeping run that takes you right to the restaurant door. David, the owner, is something of a local legend, and he’ll happily guide you through the wine list (and will likely trade tales over a glass if you ask him). Another choice spot is the Schaferstube at the foot of the nursery slopes. The cosy atmosphere, regional dishes and upbeat staff have made this one a favourite among Saas-Fee regulars. For a casual dinner, try the Waldhüs Bodmen, reached by a path that winds through the woods. You can't go wrong with their classic kåse spaetzle or steak with peppercorn sauce, and kids will have no end of entertainment thanks to the sizeable petting zoo – complete with a camel, no less. For something more formal, book a table for dinner at Swiss Chalet, where the chef chooses the menu for you. The dishes are anchored to the regional cuisine but the approach is fresh and the presentation playful.
Zur Mühle is the place for après – it’s at the foot of the slopes as you come into the village, so you can’t miss it. Make a beeline for the terrace, where there’s an outdoor bar, patio heaters and Europop classics on the soundsystem.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this chalet-style hotel in Switzerland and unpacked their Moncler puffer jacket, a full account of their ski break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Capra in Saas-Fee…
There’s nothing quite like a holiday in the mountains. There’s the crisp air perfumed with pine smoke, the alpine cuisine, the camaraderie of the mountain huts… But things can get a little out of balance up there, with the line between leisure and labour getting a blurred. The remedy? Balance – a word about which the Capra’s owners have clearly thought long and hard. On some levels, it’s a looks thing: there’s the contrast between the 4,000m peaks outside – majestic but a bit, well, chilly – and the hotel, a warming medley of pine, slate and Swiss hospitality. But it goes deeper than that. If you’re angling for a Swiss health kick, you can choose the Peak Health-approved dishes on the menu, make the most of the sporting opportunities or even commit yourself into one of the hotel’s health retreats. But if downtime’s what the doctor ordered, just fill your days with massages, decadent dinners and glasses of schnapps by the fire. When you do things the Capra way, a holiday in the Alps need only be as testing as you want it to be.