Nira Alpina, a Design Hotel near St Moritz – Hotel Review

Arriving at the St. Moritz station, I was able to arrange for a pick-up from the hotel. Normally guests should request a pick up with their train arrival information by e-mail though for some reason, I had forgotten to do until the day before my train journey and by then the hotel did not seem to receive it in time. While there is a shuttle van to ferry passengers to and from the hotel, the driver picked me up in a Range Rover Evoque. It was a 15 minute drive to the neighouring town of Surlej where Nira Alpina is located at.

Nira Alpina Hotel
Nira Alpina hotel exterior

That is right, Nira Alpina is not exactly located in St. Moritz proper. Instead there are the neighbouring towns of Silvaplana and Surlej across the lake. In fact the hotel is a ski-in/ski-out property that is attached to the Corvatsch ski area. Guests could purchase ski passes that allows access to Corvatsch, Corviglia and Diavolezza and there is even a promotional price of CHF35 (~$38)for guests staying more than one night at recognized hotels in the area. Nira Alpina is one of the hotels and I was able to purchase my ski passes from the reception when I checked in.

Reception desk
Reception desk

Nira Alpina was built to blend in with the topography of the site and that meant some quirks as the lobby is located half a floor below the street and that meant guests descend a staircase to proceed to reception. There is an elevator on the side that also leads to the parkade at the basement of the hotel, and is quite slow so unless you are not capable of walking down a few steps, just take the stairs. It is just something guests should know before hand. Alternatively, guests can enter the hotel from the bakery down the street which is located on the same floor as the lobby.

Outside Nira Alpina
Outside Nira Alpina with the bakery on the left

Upon reaching the hotel, I was asked to just proceed inside for check-in while the driver helped me with my ski bags and that was very nice of him. In Europe, service standards are generally far better than in North America, though Europeans and Asians are a tad more sticky with rules and rarely give free upgrades. As I checked in, I was asked for my passport and they did ask if I wanted to purchase the ski pass from the hotel. Staying for 5 nights, I was only able to purchase a ski pass with the corresponding amount of nights. Nothing more or nothing less, even though I was not planning to ski much on the last day if at all.

Shop in the lobby
Shop in the lobby

Beside the lobby, there is a small ski shop and a concierge desk with some sofas. On the other end, there is a small lounge space with fireplace, some computers for guests’ use and a staircase leading to a reading lounge with an outdoor patio. The whole lobby feels compact and cozy with modern furnishings yet retaining the overall warmth of a ski lodge. It was definitely an inviting space that I have taken a liking to.

Concierge counter
Concierge desk

Room No: 411 Category: Mountain View Room

For my first night stay, I was assigned to a Mountain View room located on the 4th floor. The room is a normal size but has an open layout once guests open the door in that the whole room is immediately visible. On the right of the door, a Double sized bed faces towards the window. As it was a relatively small bed, it might be a squeeze for 2 adults though it was alright for a solo traveller. Beside the bed, there is 2 floating side ledges that is somewhat small in size compared to the regular bedside tables. It can be troublesome if one likes to have a glass of water beside their bed.

Standard double bed
Standard double bed

Across from the bed, there is a wall mounted flatscreen TV atop a regular work desk and a regular chair. The leg room of the desk is constrained somewhat by the minibar fridge underneath the desk while the table top space is taken partially by the hotel magazines and an electric kettle. It works fine for a single traveller not looking to spend much time using the table to do stuff but it is too small to hold much stuff for 2 people sharing the room.

Mountain View room
Mountain View room

Fortunately, the room does have a relatively large wardrobe beside the window so there was at least space to hold my ski helmets, gloves, goggles and other gear that I might have.

Mountain View room
Mountain View room

A door beside the wardrobe leads into the bathroom and it was a surprisingly spacious with a toilet and a stool placed on the left and a towel rack beside the door. The sink though was a free-standing one which has limited countertop space though the hotel was sensible enough to incorporate a ledge at the top below the mirror so guests could place their toiletries safely.

Bathroom interior
Bathroom interior for the Mountain View room

Supplies inside the bathroom are by a local brand under Pure Altitude which is also the products used in the spa. Along with it is a small box containing stuff like cotton buds and shower cap. Guests who pay for the use of the hotel’s spa can obtain these toiletries in the locker room as well. Beside the sink, there is a shower cubicle that is fairly basic but is my preferred showering space as I usually do not find the need for a bathtub.

Lotion and Boxed Amenities
Lotion and boxed amenities

Room No: 116 Category: Garden Room

Even though the room was perfectly fine for a short stay, I was here for 5 nights and hoped for something more comfortable since the other room has a view of the Corvatsch gondola station across it and would be noisy from the buses plying the road. Thus I enquired if there was any possibility of an upgrade. Even though I understand the Design Hotels are affiliated hotels, I have had some goodwill upgrades in the past if the hotel was not fully booked. As it happens the week I was staying was a slow week with less visitors and I did manage to get moved to a Garden Room which is actually a 2 tier upgrade so I did really appreciate the hotel in arranging this switch without charge.

Floor plan of the resort
Floor plan of the hotel

The Garden rooms are located on the first floor though I have to note that the lobby is located in the 3rd floor. This is because the Garden rooms have a deck that opens out into the slopes proper. This meant guests could technically ski into their room and on entry, the room was definitely larger and had a more conventional hotel room layout in that the bed is not directly visible on entry. One feature I immediately liked was the row of hooks placed on the wall by the foyer. This is a feature I have grown to take for granted in ski resort hotels as it is very convenient to hang your ski jackets and pants up there to dry at the end of the day on the mountains.

Hooks by the entrance
Hooks by the entrance of the Garden room

Beside the entrance to the room lies the bathroom which features a bathtub and shower combination with a glass partition. I stay at enough hotels in Austria/Germany/Switzerland to find this is more or less the standard setup in these area for premium hotels.

Bathtub and shower
Bathtub and shower

For some reason the bathroom actually is smaller in footprint compared to the Mountain View room though it features a sink with a countertop space. There is also an additional glass shelf where the glasses and same ‘Pure Altitude’ bath amenities are placed at. If bathroom space is an issue for you as a solo traveller, then perhaps the Mountain View room is a better choice but this room was better for me as I took most of my baths in the excellent hotel spa.

Bathroom interior
Bathroom interior of the Garden room

Walking further into the room, there is a Double Bed but this bed is definitely larger and is I believe more like a Super Queen bed (somewhere between a King and Queen sized bed). The same style bedside table can be found on both sides of the bed and there is a much larger closet here with sliding wooden doors. The space felt more adequate for 2 persons and it was really more comfortable to stay in for an extended period of time.

Inside the Garden Room
Inside the Garden room

The other end of the room has 2 armchairs with a small coffee table while a glass door opens out to the deck that connects directly to the snow playground outside.

Armchairs by the bed
Armchairs by the bed

Across from the bed is a larger work desk with a luggage bench beside it. On the desk was the same electric kettle with the minibar and glasses placed in the space underneath. However as the desk itself was larger the space underneath was more conducive when using the laptop on the desk.

Work desk and minibar
Work desk and minibar

But my favourite feature of this room so far is the outdoor deck and the wonderful views that it brings me every morning when I wake up and afternoon when I finish skiing on the mountains.

Outdoor balcony
Outdoor balcony
View from the room
View from the room

As I mentioned I had my baths at the spa inside the hotel. Spa access is complimentary for hotel guests and on several days I was actually the only one using the spa at night around 8-9pm. I figure the spa should be most crowded between 4-6pm when the ski lifts stop and guests unwind before dinner. There is a receptionist where guests are supposed to register or they could just use their room key card to gain access. On entry, there are shower rooms with individual glass doors and separate changing rooms for males and females with locker space that guests could lock using a number combination. Beside the changing rooms, there is a dark room with ambient coloured lighting containing plenty of lounge chairs as an after-spa relaxation space. And in the foyer of the spa, there was an water feature that shields an area to cool your body temperature with cold water after using the sauna.

Spa foyer
Spa foyer
Relaxation lounge
Relaxation lounge

There is a very hot Swedish sauna with rich wood scent on the corner and right outside a very large whirlpool with separate sections. It was the whirlpool that was my favourite feature since there is a waterfall component, a water ‘bed’ component where you can lie down and have jet stream massaging your shoulders, and a section to just be seated like the usual hot tub. The various segments meant I never got bored while relaxing inside here and there is even a large clock beside it to let you know how long you have soaked for!

Whirlpool in the spa
Whirlpool in the spa

There was also an aromatherapy sauna room with perfumed scents for those who prefer something other than the scent of wood. On top of that, the spa has some seating areas in the centre with magazines and a fridge containing iced teas. For guests who prefer something warm, there is usually ginger tea provided on the counter. This was definitely a very nice spa to linger in which is why I returned daily to use the facilities.

Spa sitting area
Spa sitting area
Ginger tea in the spa
Ginger tea in the spa

Hotel guests planning on skiing have access to a ski locker that is fixed to their room. That means every room gets their private locker with a number combination that can be set individually. The ski storage is located on the first floor where the garden view rooms are so that makes it more convenient for me. Other facilities inside the hotel includes a lounge space beside the lobby with a reading corner at the mezzanine. The hotel has its own in-house restaurant where breakfast and dinner are served and a bakery where snacks and pastries can be purchased.

Reading lounge
Reading lounge

In fact the top floor of the hotel is dedicated to the restaurant and a bar which I would write about separately since I had breakfast there daily which is included in my room rate. I had dinner there one night and purchased some food to bring back to the room on other nights so it is best if I write about my dining experience here in a different post. To end this post, I would like to state that the price I paid here was actually cheaper than my stay at Chur on a per night basis. This was due to me getting a best rate guarantee from SPG whereby I managed to find a better rate outside SPG’s website and was given the better rate with a further 20% reduction. For that price, I got a very good value in a Swiss ski resort.

Comfortable lounge
Comfortable lounge space in the lobby

However if I was to pay more than that, I have to mention that this hotel is not exactly located in St. Moritz. It is in fact in the village of Surlej which has nothing around the area after the ski lifts in Corvatsch close. There is a ski and sports boutique with several hotels and restaurants about a 7 minute walk away but it is downhill and that means trekking back up later on as the buses do not head back up after 7pm or thereabouts. Besides Nira Alpina there are several hotels in the area with some restaurants but there is not much selection and the whole village is quiet so it did not incentivize me to make the walk elsewhere and I opted to just have meals in the hotel or having a nice aprés in St. Moritz before returning to the hotel. When I did stay in St. Moritz until after dinner time, I had to make the uphill trek as the bus stops at the ski boutique so essentially it did not make much sense to stay here at all if one plans to ski in Corviglia/St. Moritz.

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