A Guide to Gstaad
Gstaad has a long association with wealthy international visitors and has an abundance of imposing chalets, luxury hotels, restaurants, designer shops, private clubs, and one of the world’s foremost boarding schools. The Menuhin classical music festival has been drawing top performers for 62 years. Traditionally pretty and immaculately preserved, alongside the latest in modern infrastructure and a spectacular backdrop of mountain peaks, Gstaad attracts royalty and the affluent. Yet this high society reputation can be misleading, Gstaad is also highly discrete. This suits its residents, visitors and second home owners very well.
Gstaad is proud of its Alpine traditions and heritage, still today around two hundred farms in the area use the local pastures. A prominent feature is the imposing and prestigious Palace Hotel overlooking the village, which opened in 1913 and since the 1940s has been run by the same family. The more recent opulent Alpina Hotel is another prominent landmark. The region has a language ‘border’ running down the middle, Chateau-d’Oex and Rougemont are French-speaking; Saanen, Gstaad, Schoenried and Saanenmoeser are where Swiss-German is spoken. The skiing mainly caters to beginners and intermediates though there are some excellent runs for advanced skiers including good quality off-piste. Only 20 minutes away is the Glacier 3000 Diablerets, offering high altitude skiing and a long season. The airport in Saanen is often busy with private jets coming and going. Gstaad is a “has it all resort” with a world-famous reputation, and a lifestyle destination to rival the likes of Megève, Kitzbühel and St. Moritz.
Chalets and Apartments for Sale in Gstaad
Properties for sale in Gstaad and the surrounding villages are mainly composed of small, medium and some very large chalets. Many are beautifully preserved old farmhouses. Chalet style buildings are often split into apartments. New build properties are rare. Such is the discretion of Gstaad that casual observers might think there isn’t much of a property market here – the truth is that many properties change hands discretely and are frequently not advertised on the open market; when they are, prices are rarely displayed. Many property buyers choose the neighbouring villages such as Saanen, Rougemont, Château d'Oex, Gsteig where prices are more reasonable and there is more choice.
Le Rosey, the highly exclusive international school, has its winter campus in Gstaad. Parents and alumni are often property owners here, creating enduring demand for high quality chalets and apartments.
Gstaad is the second most expensive ski resort in Switzerland just behind St. Moritz and just above Verbier. Values marked a 4.8% increase in 2020-21 and have increased by nearly 30% in since 2016, the highest increase in the country (source UBS). The official figures, showing a range of CHF13-22k/ m² do not tell the whole story, top chalets here can change hands for above CHF45k/m².
Gstaad ski area
The Gstaad ski area offers 200km of ski slopes between 1,000 and 3,000m altitude connected by over 40 lifts in five different areas, all linked by an efficient bus service, ski lifts or trains. The biggest area is Rinderberg which is well suited to intermediate skiers and has night skiing on floodlit slopes - catch the train or bus to Schönreid for the impressive new gondola at Saanerslochgrat. The Zweisimmen-Saanenmöser-Schönried sector is regarded as the most diverse ski area, with its restaurants and terrain on- and off-piste. Advanced skiers will enjoy taking on the Tiger Run, the steepest ski slope on the Wasserngrat. The Eggli area is accessed from the edge of Gstaad by a gondola and a chairlift from Saanen, it has mainly blue runs and has a long route down to Saanen. And the 550m skiable vertical off the Horneggli chairlift above Schönried is popular for freeriders and piste skiers. The most snowsure skiing in the area is Glacier 3000 (also skiable from Villars), 2971m at the top, the highest terrain in the Bernese Alps. The lift infrastructure in the entire area is continually upgraded, even some less-used lower south facing slopes have now been decommissioned.
The slopes in and near the village centre offer gentle tree-lined runs ideal for children and beginners. There are four snow parks and a half-pipe in the Saanersloch area.
Off the slopes, 180km of cross-country ski trails wind their way through 4 valleys, this is one of the most versatile cross-country skiing areas in Switzerland. The different sub-areas cover all levels of difficulty, the well prepared trails lead through different landscapes. And you can take your dog.
Eating out and après-ski in Gstaad
On the mountain, you don’t have to travel far before an inviting mountain restaurant beckons. Wasserngrat serves a variety of cuisine, ranging from traditional Swiss meals to international dishes in a spectacular setting with two sunny terraces. The pop-up Gourmet Mobil on the Eggli mountain has panoramic mountain views. Restaurant Rinderberg-Spitz offers the best regional specialities including a self-service restaurant. Hotel Hornberg at the valley end of the Saanerslochgrad-Horneggli ski slopes serves perfectly prepared fresh produce with beautiful mountain views. Restaurant Hornfluh has a cosy dining area with a fireplace and a sunny terrace. Restaurant Chemistube may be the most rustic mountain hut in the entire ski resort with home-made dishes and regional specialities. Traditional Berghaus Horneggli has rustic and cosy dining areas and a large outdoor eating space in the sun. Rinderberg Swiss Alpine Lodge is an alpine log cabin style restaurant at the middle station of the Rinderbergbahn lift.
Down in the village you are more than spoilt for choice. Le Petit Chalet, a cosy restaurant in the gardens of Le Grand Bellevue seats just 18 people and serves a delicious truffle fondue. The Argentinian-Swiss fusion Chubut restaurant at the Park Gstaad is popular. Save up and visit the Alpina Gstaad, the Michelin-starred Sommet has influences from around the world and Megu serves Japanese specialities with a Michelin-star. More traditional is the Posthotel Rössli, a family-run business since 1922. Ristorant Bar Rialto is a favourite of many celebrities. La Bagatelle has been one of the best French restaurants in the region for 30 years. La Vue Restaurant specialises in high quality regional dishes, overlooking the pistes. The Olden has the best schnitzel in town.
When the lifts close, the base of the local slopes has several lively après ski bars. Richi’s Pub is a long standing favourite, Stall-Bar, Chlösterli and La Cave are also popular. The Ice Dome is the perfect bar to start your evening. Later on, head for the GreenGo Club, an established venue in the Palace Hotel which retains its 1970s decor. Or the vintage cocktail lounge in Le Grand Bellevue offers a variety of themed nights.
For some fun with the family when the lifts are closed or it’s a snowy day, the region offers a selection of toboggan runs for families, some steep fast runs, and evening runs followed by a delicious warming fondue at the Eggli. The Rinderberg area has three long and popular toboggan routes with a descent of over 700m.
The Gstaad Sports Centre has extensive facilities: a large indoor pool, climbing walls, fitness, yoga, curling, bowling, a golf simulator, horse riding lessons and more. There is also a 200 seat cinema.
Summer in Gstaad
There is a wide range of high quality events during the summer such as The Summer Music Festival started by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, The Polo Silver Cup, The Country Night, The Swiss Open Tennis, FIVB Beach Volley World Tour and Country Night Gstaad. For art connoisseurs, Gstaad is home to a wealth of art galleries with exhibitions by internationally renowned galleries.
Gstaad’s hiking trails are second to none with over 300 km of trails to choose from. A hike around Lake Lauenen is highly recommended. This stunning lake is extremely picturesque, surrounded on all sides by mountains, waterfalls and forests. Up at Glacier 3000 take the Peak Walk, a suspended bridge between the mountain peaks followed by lunch at Refuge L’Espace. Lake Arnensee is crystal blue in a true mountain setting, and the perfect place for a swim. Take the Rinderberg trail for some of the most beautiful scenery, with a packed lunch for a full day out. Horseback riding with a mountain backdrop is an ideal way to spend an afternoon. The Golfclub Gstaad-Saanenland has an 18 hole golf course at 1,400m in a mountain setting.
For mountain bikers, Gstaad also has 500 km of GPS tours and dozens of sign-posted routes for to discover, over varied topography and several valleys, that includes steep ascents, easy flat stretches along a mountain stream or beautiful single trails through the magnificent forests. For example, the famous Lauenensee and panoramic loop around Hundsrügg and Rellerli. For the experienced rider, there are several steep single track routes and even two pump tracks. The Gstaad mountain railway tour connects the trails of three mountains and is for mountain bikers seeking a more challenging experience. For e-bikers, the region offers fully-equipped electric bike facilities and over 150 km of routes; you can cycle from Gstaad to Gsteig, a beautiful traditional village, and back. There are unlimited possibilities for discovery, for all levels of experience.
Three summer schools in Gstaad offer programs for kids from age 2 to 18 with language courses as well as excursions, outdoor camping, sporting and art activities.
Other Destinations in the Swiss Alps:
Andermatt, Anzère, Champéry, Crans-Montana, Grimentz, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Verbier, Veysonnaz, Villars