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The Nira Alpina: ski and spa on the doorstep of star-studded St Moritz

Alexandra Wilby

Ski resorts don’t come more ritzy than celebrity magnet St Moritz. This Alpine village lures famous faces including Claudia Schiffer, George Clooney, Elizabeth Hurley and Boris Becker (who got married here) with its snowy peaks, showy après-ski and exclusive designer shops jostling for position on Via Serlas (think of it as a snowy, Swiss version of Rodeo Drive). Its ski pedigree is as impressive as the list of A listers who holiday there, too. The birthplace of Alpine winter tourism, it hosted the recent Alpine World Ski Championships and has twice been the setting for the winter Olympics.

This year, HELLO! Deputy Features Editor Alexandra Wilby decided to get in on the VIP-friendly on-piste action. No doubt she'd be in good company in one of the world's most glamorous ski resorts – Naomi Campbell and Robbie Williams are fans. Read on to find out what she discovered…

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The Glacier Express offers a picturesque arrival

Getting to St Moritz is pretty special. We flew into Zurich then hopped on a couple of trains before transferring to the world-famous Glacier Express – hands down the most picturesque rail journey I’ve ever been on. It snakes its way up into the Swiss Alps and with views like these it felt like we were heading into Narnia. Top tip – it’s well worth the 10 Swiss Francs to upgrade your tickets to ones that permit you to travel in a carriage with bigger windows and a partially-transparent ceiling.

We were staying just outside St Moritz itself – at the Nira Alpina (in Corvatsch, the upper end of the spectacular Engadin Valley), the first ski in ski out hotel in the St Moritz ski domain. (It’s actually connected to the Corvatsch cable car via a private walkway so guests can reach 3,303metres – the highest point in the whole ski area – without even having to set foot outside the hotel.)

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The view from the Nira Alpina Sky Lift

Ski-wise, it’s the perfect location for any ability. The nursery slope is right next to the hotel so watchful mums and dads can keep an eye on their little ones’ ski lessons while nursing a gluhwein in the comfort of the bar (or a deep leather armchair in the cosy library, which is on a mezzanine level above reception).

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The hotel overlooks the slopes

But the area also boasts some of the most challenging skiing in St Moritz with 17 red runs and 12km of black piste. Yikes. I’m definitely not the world’s best skier and my boyfriend hadn’t set foot on a ski slope for years, so I decided we’d enlist the help of ski school Ski Cool, who sent a fantastic private instructor Federico to spend a whole day with us out on the mountain (For more information about the company visit skicool.ch/about-us). He handled our differing levels of ability (and confidence!) like the pro that he is – paying attention to improving our technique, giving us pep talks and keeping us safe (he skied backwards down a mountain with me when I had a serious attack of Can. Not. Do. This. Run.)

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St Moritz is a go-to ski destination for the stars

After a long day on the slopes there was nothing I fancied more than a trip to the spa where I was pretty excited to indulge in a massage to soothe my aching muscles. The spa at the Nira Alpina is gorgeous – the whirlpool, which has an underwater relaxation bed (bliss!), is set by a floor to ceiling glass window overlooking the nursery slope outside. But it’s not all show - it packs a punch, with an extensive treatment menu on offer.

They use award-winning spa brand Pure Altitude, which uses Alpine flowers such a Edelwiess, minerals and glacier water as locally-sourced ingredients incorporated into their skin care range and treatments.

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The spa overlooks the mountain's slopes

I’d only been skiing for a day but as I padded along the hotel’s corridors in my towelling robe my whole body seemed to be aching more by the minute and I wondered a) if I should probably think about upping my fitness regime back home and b) if I should maybe have gone for a deep sports massage – available throughout the entire ski season but not in summer – instead of the Alpine Journey treatment I’d opted for.

But I’m pleased to report it was absolutely incredible and quite sufficient to ease my aches and pains; the skilled massage therapist used hot stones, wooden sticks and linen bags filled with salt and mountain plants to help improve fatigue and replenish my energy levels, and I came out of my hour-long treatment feeling totally blissed out and like a new woman.

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The hotel has a Rooftop Bar with delicious signature cocktails

Definitely new enough to have a night cap in the hotel’s Rooftop Bar, at any rate. We went for one of the bar’s signature cocktails, the Tropic Snow, which is made with white pears, lychee and champagne, which we sipped while reclining into the comfy sofas around the cosy fire that takes centre stage in the room.

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Check out the Pichalain Après-Ski Hut

The Nira Alpina is a design hotel and it really is lovely – the bar was a particular favourite place of mine and we really did while away hours in there. But there are little details dotted around the whole property such as the tradional Swiss artefacts (vintage skis hang on some of the walls!),that really do create a homely, luxurious ambience. Anyway. Having worked up an appetite, next up was a trip to the Pichalain Après-Ski Hut – a rustic mountain hut conveniently located just outside the hotel’s front door, that serves up local specialities including cheese fondue in an authentic, lodge-like ambiance strewn with cowhide rugs. Hygge central!

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The bar serves up local specialities including cheese fondue

All the food on offer at the Nira Alpina is delicious, in fact. We had an incredible meal one evening in Stars (also the setting for the buffet-style breakfasts), which is on the top floor of the hotel and boasts panoramic views of lakes and mountains, that we washed down with a bottle of local Swiss red. (I took a photo of the label to try to get my hands on it at home, it was that good.)

There’s a bakery, where you can pick up a snack (perfect for grabbing lunch – also, perfect for learning a few tips, as the in-house pastry chef hosts baking classes for all ages). And, after day two exerting ourselves on the slopes, we had so little energy that we ordered a club sandwich from room service, which was spot on. For people with a bit more stamina than us, there’s night skiing available too. In fact, the longest illuminated ski run in Switzerland is right on the doorstep and every Friday night (weather permitting of course) you can ski under the stars. Amazing. I’ll pop that one on my list for next time we visit!

Corvatsch Room at the Nira Alpina starts from CHF 345 (approx £275) per room, per night during the winter season, based on double occupancy. Includes breakfast, all taxes, entrance to the Nira Spa by Pure Altitude and wifi. Visit niraalpina.com/en/

easyJet flies from London Gatwick and London Luton airports to Zurich with prices starting from £20.99 per person (one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking). All flights can be booked at easyjet.com

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