Ski-in, ski-out stay The Hide Hotel says ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to goat-herder chic, swapping barn wood and just-shorn throws for richly hued velvets, cosmic carpets and geometric marquetry. You’ll find it in the Glarus Alps by Switzerland’s ‘Grand Canyon’, in a powder-dusted paradise for skiers, boarders and alpinists alike. There’s child-friendly fun galore (a race-track, chocolate workshop, dressing-up wardrobe), warming post-piste dining (with inventive veggie dishes) and an après-ski of glühwein and Kirsch-sloshed cocktails as a DJ mans the decks in the lobby. Seek Hide and you shall find…
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of local red wine; GoldSmiths get a regional-charcuterie plate, too
Double rooms from £164.36 (CHF210), including tax at 3.7 per cent.
Rates include a buffet breakfast (usually CHF38 an adult, CHF15 a child), with breads and pastries; fruit; muesli; local charcuterie and salmon; cheeses; veggie dishes; hot picks (eggs, bacon, sausages, poffertjes…); juices and coffee.
To make the most of your stay, get pally with the receptionist and concierge: they can point you to local ski instructors and gear stores, issue you a free bus pass for the Route 1 shuttle from Flims to Falera and help you acquire tickets to prestigious snowboarding event, the Laax Open.
At the hotel
Mountain concierge, roof terrace, lounge, free WiFi. In rooms: tablet loaded with magazines and local info (in German), flatscreen TV, Nespresso coffee machine, mini fridge with bottled water, blanket and bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms are equally stylish with the same psychedelic carpets, matte-black bathrooms and snugglesome velvet throws. Junior Suites are slightly larger at 40sq m and corner rooms have the most Christmassy views.
Come summer 2019, Hide will unveil a sparkling new spa. Therapists will soothe ski-worn muscles in two massage cabins (one built for two), yoga, Pilates and other classes will be held in the fully equipped gym, and – in true Swiss style – there’ll be a sauna, too.
You can pick up any forgotten winter-sports gear in Stenna, but save some francs by bringing your own salopettes, goggles and such. For maximum cosiness, bring fleecy pyjamas too. Brits – and all cuppa fans – might want to pack some Tetley’s: tea isn’t provided in your room.
The hotel is fully wheelchair accessible, with sizeable rooms and public spaces and a lift to all floors.
Very welcome; you might spy the manager’s snow-loving hound padding around reception. Dogs can stay in any room for CHF20 a night and they’ll get their own blanket and ball. See more pet-friendly hotels in Flims.
Children aged two and up are very welcome. Extra beds (CHF80 a night) and cots (free) can be added to all double rooms and suites.
The winter-wonderland vistas are on the other side of the building, unfortunately, so huddle together in a violet-hued banquette towards the back of the room.
Shed your ski layers for the main restaurant.
The hotel has a come-as-you-are deli and a fine-diner, with menus conceived by Swiss culinary star Adrian Tschanz. The former does a fine line in ‘I’ll have one of each’ mezze plates, salads, pastas, cheese and meat platters, and such. The latter has come-of-age meats (served with decadent sauces and sides – we loved the cheesy spätzle), Swiss classics (try the ‘capuns’ with chard-wrapped air-dried beef), veggie and vegan picks (fregola and carrot Bolognese, citrussy pastas) and the creamiest, chocolatiest desserts.
Dress code Shed your ski layers for the main restaurant.
There’s no dedicated bar, but there are a few stools to perch on by the Deli counter, and reception has a fireplace, bridge set and fuzzy and squishy chairs to flop on as staff bring you your preferred poison: G&Ts, highballs, regional wines and craft beers.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 11am, the Deli runs from 10am to 11pm, the restaurant from 6pm to midnight.
The hotel is nestled in the often snowbound hamlet of Flims, tucked away in the action-packed Stenna complex and just metres from the Foppa ski lift.
Zürich (AKA Kloten) Airport is the nearest. Flights arrive here directly from all over Europe (from London, the journey’s just over an hour). Flights from the US usually stop elsewhere in Europe first and flights from Asia and Australasia connect via the UAE, although there are direct flights from Hong Kong. The hotel can arrange private transfers from Zürich for CHF420 each way.
Catch the train from the airport station (Zürich Flughafen) to Zürich Hauptbahnhof, then hop on a train to Chur – a scenic train ride that chugs past mountains and lakes. Then catch the bus to Flims Dorf, Bergbahnen – the stop right outside the hotel complex. Book tickets in advance and you’ll get a handy QR code to cover your whole journey.
The drive from Zürich airport takes just over 90 minutes and traverses Alpine panoramas – bring snow tires and the like for frosty weather. Transportation to and from the runs is impressively efficient, but if you want to do some off-piste exploring or have a lot of gear, a car could come in handy. There’s underground parking on site for a charge of CHF20 a night.
Every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, a shuttle bus runs directly from the airport to Flims (you’ll need to book 48 hours in advance), a journey of around 90 minutes. Download the Inside LAAX App for the timetable.
Worth getting out of bed for
You’ll become accustomed to the click-clack of off-piste skiers navigating Flims’ snowy streets in their slightly cumbersome boots. Everyone is here for the hundreds of kilometres of powder-coated runs criss-crossing the Glarus Alps (some from stomach-lurching heights) freestylin’ sessions in snowparks that cater to beginners and Olympians alike, snowboarding the world’s largest (and gnarliest) halfpipe in Laax and hiking the breathtaking Rhine Gorge – the ‘Swiss Grand Canyon’. Start by catching the Foppa chair-lift, just a few metres from Hide, (making it a true ski-in and out hotel) and work your way up to the Vorab Glacier: a staggering 3,018 metres of mountain face. You can also practise or refine your skills at the Freestyle Academy, a playground of ramps, trampolines and more. Pro tip: Flims is the skier’s sanctuary, Laax tends to lure more snowboarders. Need more adrenaline-flooding fun? Strap in for a climb up the Pinut via ferrata, bomb around glassine Lake Caumasee on a mountain bike, go white-water rafting, risk the vertiginous fixed-rope park, or following the Bargis mountain-valley trail. Paragliding and helicopter rides are possible too. Acrophobes can find out how the Alps were formed with a stroll through the Unesco-protected Tectonic Arena Sardona or see Megalithic monoliths in Falera’s prehistoric Parc la Mutta. Watch the cosmos from Mirasteilas observatory, or swing by architect Rudolf Olgiati’s curiously whitewashed Yellow House. Or curl up by the fire in the hotel’s reception and flick through their books on natural curios, art and design.
The hotel’s duo of diners are reason enough to stay in, but Flims’ restaurants reflect the cosmopolitan ski crowd it draws. Stenna is home to cheery café Ella, whose flat-share concept means homey surrounds. Download the Inside Laax App to order gourmet sandwiches, homemade cakes and decadent hot chocolates before your chair-lift has come back down to earth. Come summer, DeliCious offers a picnic of sandwiches, cakes and more for a very reasonable price. The region’s fondness for carb-loading and cheese aligns nicely with Italian dining: try Pomodoro and chic Cavigilli for top-notch pasta. Go old-school at the ‘Golden age of skiing’ Waldhaus hotel’s Epoca, where the window walls give good view, or mod-Swiss with Nova’s deconstructed dishes, served in an atmospheric stone cellar. The hotel doesn’t serve fondue or raclette, but Stalla or Hotel Vorab’s Fondue Stübli – both wood-clad and studded with stag mounts – both overflow with molten cheese. For zingy salads and noodle bowls hit pan-Asian eatery Nooba, close to the launchpad for the Crap Sogn Gion gondola.
Atop the Crap Sogn Gion peak, Galaaxy attracts a youthful crowd of serious skiers, backpackers and post-piste partiers, here to brave the slopes and balk at the astounding 360-degree view. A small alfresco bar serves iced cocktails, warming grog and mulled drinks, and old-school funk belts out from a snowplough turned DJ booth. For more grown-up mingling, VinCreaziun in Flims has a well-stocked cellar to sip through and Livingrhum, on Via dil Crest, is a convivial café with an impressive stash of spirits and some very cosy nooks.
The possibility of holiday romance was nearly over before we checked-in. We were driving south from Zurich under a bluebird sky — I was doing my best to catch Mrs Smith’s eye and flirt; she was doing her utmost to ignore my quips and read a gossip magazine. Our destination was sky-high, rarely-mentioned Flims, on the edge of Graubünden in Eastern Switzerland, and the Meghans, Kims and Taylors on the front cover of her magazine felt a million miles from where we were going. When winter madness strikes the Swiss Alps, skiers and snowboarders from around the world tend to congregate in the same old places. Zermatt, St Moritz, Davos; you know the deal. Mrs Smith and I knew the drill, too, so our plan was to head elsewhere. Right, left, right a bit, then shifting up a gear into the mountains of Flims, where all kinds of smiley Swiss people come, confident in the knowledge that no one else knows their secret. At a time when Alpine resorts start losing some of their appeal, Flims’ appears to be getting wider.
That excitement is discernible at the Hide Hotel, a new addition to the Swiss boutique hotel scene. After a few U-turns and multiple swear words not suitable for print, we eventually found the entrance, casually announced and tucked out-of-sight at the back of a multi-layered supermarket and shopping complex. ‘The clue is in the name,’ said Mrs Smith, wryly.
Parking up, we brushed-off our stupidity and immediately tumbled down the rabbit hole, feeling our moods shift as we took the lift to the louche lobby hangout. There is flattering lighting, oscillating wallpaper, mismatched plum velvet and emerald green upholstery and the lived-out fantasy of a circular fireplace. When the whole extended ensemble came together, it felt more like a compact home-from-home, rather than a swish new ski-in, ski-out hotel. Perhaps detecting our ruffled mood, the bartending receptionist offered us a welcome snifter of champagne from the bold-if-bonkers lobby-cum-bar. Things were starting to look up.
Inevitably, after inhaling the fizz, a refill looked promising, but we were both already a little giddy and the possibility of romance was far more pressing. Next stop the bedroom. We opted for a double with a thrilling valley view. There are ones with mountain panoramas, but we knew from the twisty-turny drive into the resort that was a false promise, at least compared to the exquisite eye candy on show from our balcony. The back wall was a Pythagorean puzzle of dark and light triangles, the bed cosy enough to rekindle any romance. Plum and green was the colour scheme (remember that from the lobby?) and light bulbs hung from the ceiling as though we were at the circus. All told, a delightfully-plush cocoon, but one that felt a long way from its Alpine roots. Regardless, a glorious sleep undoubtedly beckoned.
The by-the-slopes setting was key. The idea being you’re so tired buzzing up and down the piste (or hiking and biking the trails in summer, if that’s more your thing) that you spend the rest of the time snacking and supping in lounge PJs in the restaurant and deli. Over 220 km of ski slopes, four snow parks and 28 ski lifts will do that to you, you know.
Dining at The Hide Dining is deformalised beneath the over-engineered ceiling and suspended lighting, but as it was soul-crushingly closed during our stay (Tues-Sat only? Shock horror!) we metamorphosed into tourists-turned-regulars by stepping outside our safe haven to Pomodoro, a neighbourhood trattoria recommended by the front desk. There was lots to recommend and it was so good — so uplifting — it wanted us to shout its name on the midnight walk back. The two of us, stumbling Cinderellas after the ball, returned to our hotel late.
A storm was brewing over the Flimserstein and Grisons massifs by mid-morning and to move beyond the trauma we stole ourselves after a late breakfast to the wellness area. Switzerland and super-slick spas go hand-in-hand and it was hardly an effort to linger, in an almost semi-kidnapped state, for the rest of the day. The Finnish sauna, sanarium, rainforest showers and character-building ice fountain settled that argument. We were hoping to fool around like school kids, and that’s what we did. A little charged by the thunder and lightning, no doubt.
The perfect sharpener came courtesy of a fireside cocktail in the lobby bar afterwards. Another then followed another. It was getting late before we decided to venture out again, but the spring in Mrs Smith’s step was a clear sign that our stay had breathed a little life back into our relationship.
‘It’s more a romantic crash-pad than hotel,’ said Mrs Smith, summing up our Swiss weekend, as we readied for check-out, eyeing-up the on-the-house breakfast bubbles. The only question that mattered now was who would drive us home?
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