St. Moritz, Switzerland

Living in St. Moritz

Iyna Bort Caruso

The world-class resort of St. Moritz, Switzerland, considers itself the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism. As the story goes, a local hotelier made an offer to British guests in September 1864. If they came back to St. Moritz at Christmas and didn’t find it sunnier and more agreeable than London, he would reimburse their travel costs. The visitors returned, loved the dry and sparkling “champagne climate,” and stayed all winter.

In fact, the area has been attracting visitors as far back as ancient times, not for its powdery snow but for its healing mineral springs. Today, there are four seasons of reasons to visit.

St. Moritz is a sun-drenched town on the southern slopes of the Alps nestled in the Upper Engadine landscape.

Zurich is a three-hour drive north, but St. Moritz has its own airport and rail line. The historic Albula/Bernina railway is so spectacular it’s part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Its global reputation is based, of course, on winter sports. St. Moritz twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games as well as multiple FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Ice skating, bobsledding, even horse racing on frozen St. Moritz Lake are among the other cold-weather options at this snowy playground. Summer attracts even more visitors for sailing, alpine golfing, hiking, mountain biking and altitude training for elite endurance athletes.

Traditional architecture of the region is Engadine-style, noted for its stone walls, expansive windows and playful ornamental features. And while St. Moritz has its share of Engadine homes and even landmarks such as its own leaning tower, it also breaks with the past. British architect Sir Norman Foster contributed an exclusive timber-clad, bubble-shaped apartment building to the streetscape called Chesa Future--house of the future. Another pioneer, the great Brazilian modernist Oscar Niemeyer, designed his only Swiss villa here on the northern shores of Lake St. Moritz.

A sizeable percentage of international buyers are from neighboring Italy and Germany. German is the dominant language. The area of St. Moritz Dorf, the main village, is a chic spot on the hills, in high demand for premium apartments close to restaurants, nightclubs, shopping and hotels. On the southwestern side of the lake is the quieter residential area of St. Moritz Bad. The most exclusive swathe of real estate is on the Suvretta hill slope, where residences fetch some of the highest prices in all of Switzerland.