One of the perks of living in Milan, as I do, is the fact that the Swiss Alps are just a two-hour drive away, making weekend ski trips a regular part of life. It’s a total dream — except for the hotel situation. As anyone who’s skied in St. Moritz will tell you, it’s hard to find a small, charming, stylish place to stay, as most of the people seeking that type of hotel own a home in the area. But seven years ago, a friend told me about Villa Flor, an intimate hotel at the end of the Engadin valley. I went for Christmas, and was so pleasantly blown away that I’ve gone every winter (and summer) since. Not only is it the perfect base for skiing, I’ve also become good friends with the owner and, by extension, been introduced to her magical circle of creatives. All this and muesli, too! I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough.
A word-of-mouth favorite among international creatives, this seven-room Swiss guesthouse is near the St. Moritz slopes, yet feels like it’s in a tastefully refined bubble all its own.
Former gallerist Ladina Florineth is the ideal hostess. She renovated this 100-year-old traditional villa in the tiny village of S-chanf with extreme care — and taste. Her love of art is everywhere, from the in-house shows that she curates with guests and friends like Julian Schnabel, Nathalie Du Pasquier, François Hallard and David Shrigley to the art and vintage photographs hanging in every guest room and the art books lining the library.
Florineth has the incredible ability to make every guest (and guest pet) feel like family, and isn’t shy when it comes to introducing those she thinks will get along. And if you’re extremely lucky, she’ll cook dinner for you.
Tucked at the far end of the Engadin valley, the village of S-chanf can be walked in just three minutes. You’re here both for the nature and skiing — a river flows just outside the door, beyond which lie breathtaking mountains and alpine meadows — and the world within the hotel itself. As soon as you enter, you feel like you’re at someone’s home — which, as a traveler, is the dream.
Florineth has such a great formula of coziness, coolness and a sense of privacy — even when you’re around other guests. The stylish décor is a melding of traditional Engadin elements, from the pine walls and wood-burning stube covered in painted ceramic tiles, and modern art and lighting.
While the rooms vary in size, each has a sense of lightness and quiet refinement. Rooms 1 and 3 are entirely paneled in burled wood, with plaid headboards giving it a classic feel, while the turquoise walls and gold-edged pendant lamp feels more feminine. My favorite is the super-cozy little ground floor room, where I love to write in winter and summer alike. The loft-like rooms on the top floor feature dramatic wood beams and wallpaper by Canadian artist Francesca Gabbiani.
The flash and chaos of St. Moritz are light years away from Villa Flor’s cultured vibe. Guests are a self-selecting bunch, and it’s not rare for them to discover that they have friends in common as they chat while feasting on Florineth’s incredible morning spread in the breakfast area. (There are only five tables for the seven rooms, but somehow it always flows without a hitch.) Afterwards, everyone goes off to ski (there are also beautiful cross-country trails along the river in front of the hotel), hike, mountain bike or swim in an icy lake. Lunch and dinner are not served, but the area has incredible restaurants.
You always leave having met the most incredible people. In my case, my entire Transylvania collection of clothing and housewares stemmed from a gallerist from Basel who fell in love with my dog, Pepper! (Still a puppy at the time, Florineth even helped me potty-train her. She’s that kind of host.)
There are lovely organic bath products in the modern bathrooms, and the crisp white linen sheets on every bed certainly encourage a great night’s sleep. But in Switzerland, wellness is about getting into the fresh air and exploring the natural beauty.
Just a cluster of houses, with nothing more than a pizzeria at the end.
The perfect three-day retreat in winter or summer, Villa Flor truly feels like a home filled with fascinating friends.
JJ Martin is the founder of the clothing and lifestyle label La Double J. She has lived in Milan for almost two decades.