Davos , Switzerland
Apart from offering high altitude skiing, Davos ski resort is also the birthplace of alpine downhill skiing, with plenty of very snow-sure slopes to enjoy and mountain restaurants to refuel at. There is terrain to suit all grades from experts, to motorway cruisers and nervous beginners. However, be warned that the 320km of piste are spread across 5 separate ski areas, and the town is similarly sprawling. An efficient bus service goes some way to make staying in Davos less inconvenient but use of a car is ideal.
The resort itself, although not aesthetically pleasing with many block-style hotels, offers a plethora of activities once you have left the slopes, including several ice rinks, one of which is reputedly Europe's biggest natural rink. Nightlife options are aplenty and usually sophisticated but do lack atmosphere during the week (weekends are much busier and more lively).
Although not particularly popular with the British market the skiing really is very good indeed and would rival anything that the best of the French resorts can offer. The off-piste is just as good as in Val d'Isere or St Anton but as there is absolutely no resident Scandie or British 'ski-bum' population in Davos the snow remains un-tracked for many days after a heavy snowfall.
With great mountain restaurants, a short transfer, considerable alpine charm and some great hotels, Davos should not be overlooked when it comes to choosing your next luxury ski holiday destination.
Pros & Cons
- High, snow-sure and a very large ski area suitable for all standards
- Fantastic off-piste terrain and itinerary routes with great vertical. Slow to get tracked out too.
- Large town with lots to do for non skiers
- Some great little mountain restaurants (if you can find them)
- With a short transfer time from Zurich this makes a good weekend destination
- Resort architecture a bit bland with many block-style conference hotels
- The resort is more of a large town than a village. It is spread out and has quite a bit of traffic
- Although there is a main ski area (shared with Klosters) there are three other separate areas
- Like other Swiss resorts there are quite a few T-bars which boarders will not appreciate
Most of the high-class restaurants are found in the better hotels of which there are quite a few in Davos. However, the good value places include the lively Al Ponte (pizzas and steaks), La Caretta (Italian with great home made pasta) and the cosy Gentiana (with upstairs stubli). For more local fare we suggest Heidi's und Haui's Bundnerstubli. You can also dine at Schatzalp (reached by funicular) and then toboggan back down to the resort in the dark using the toboggan track.
High up on the Weissfluhgipfel Bruhins is great for a proper decent meal when the weather is bad and you can hunker down and appreciate the great food and service. Lower down on the Parsenn area just above Klosters you will find rustic 'schwendis' in the woods which are uber popular. The Chesetta and Alte Conterser Schwendi are favourites. The other smaller separate areas are a little disappointing for on slope restaurants although the Jatzhutte and Chalet Guggel both on the Jacobshorn are both very good.
The apres ski scene is a little quiet (this is Switzerland after all). Immediately off the slopes cake eating is the done thing and Webers and the Schneider are two popular venues for this. The Scala has a great outside terrace which comes into its own later in the season and the rustic little Chami Bar (popular with the locals) is a great spot both after skiing and later in the evening too.
There are plenty of bars, nightclubs and discos but none have much atmosphere and are usually pretty empty except at the weekends when a livelier crowd from Zurich pitch up in resort. The most popular though are the Cava Grischa and the Cabana (both in the Hotel Europe) and the Rotliechtli, Paulaner's and Bar Senn. The Chami Bar has good atmosphere and is popular later in the evening and the Ex Bar is also worth a visit. Boarders tend to hang out at either Bolgenschanze or Bolgen-Plaza.