January 15 2010
The best things in life are – nearly free. After a glorious afternoon skiing on the Parsenn, I know of no better way of spending three Swiss francs than with Charly. Herr Charly runs a stand on the platform of Klosters station on the scenic Rhätische Bahn railway. It sells just one thing: roasted chestnuts. The best you have ever tasted – hot, crisp, aromatic. In short, a very distant cousin to the tasteless Castanea dispensed for twice the price on the street corners of Soho.
For something a little more substantial, I cross the platz to the Bündnerstube of the Hotel Alpina, where Christian Kaiser’s imaginative Graubünden cooking makes Messieurs Gault et Millau swoon to the extent of 16 points. Remarkable, considering its location in an Alpine village, and, I feel, well-merited. But then this is Swiss hospitality little changed in a century by the owning, managing, welcoming Conzett family.
Staff wear traditional costume not as fancy dress but because it is the way they do things. Guestrooms are deceptively plain, the walls panelled, and the Samina beds are carved from pine cut by moonlight with not a single ferrous component. Swiss feng shui, you might say. I sleep like an, ahem, log there. And will return to the charm of Klosters in narrow preference to Gstaad, St Moritz or even Zermatt. Not least for Herr Charly’s chestnuts.
Room rates for the Hotel Alpina are SFr316-SFr420 (£190-£250), depending on season, for a double room based on two people sharing, including breakfast.