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26c 7mph
25c 9mph
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25c 17mph
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27c 5mph
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seangrainger3854 days ago
Most locals speak better English than 192 operators; the mountain restaurants are gemütlich and your waistline may pay the price; the hotels offer great value and — oh yes — the skiing in Davos is simply fantastic. Behind its undeserved bad press because of the town’s somewhat utilitarian aspect Davos hides some of the best skiing for experts in the world. Although all grades of skier will find a lot to enjoy in the vast region, the best stuff is for those skiers who can go anywhere and cope with all conditions. Drosdobel (turn right out of the Klosters cable-car station) is an awesome bumps field that more than earns the Swiss definition of a black piste – steep and difficult ski run — and just when you think you’re down it zaps you with a vicious narrow gully to finish. Other top-notch runs include Wolfgang where the last steep pitch is almost never other than hard; the spring snow gem of Pischa’s Teufi run which rewards completion with a suberb lunch in Alpen Rose; in good conditions the run from the top (2844m) down Gipfel Nord to Saas (900m) is as close to heaven as one cares to get before dying and, for the young and fit provides 35 minutes of continuous skiing, much of it through picturesque pine forest. The ski area is so large that it improves with knowledge and an ideal approach is for a small group to hire a guide as they know which slopes are best at which times. This can be especially important in spring. The region has six principal areas that are linked by bus and/or train: Parsenn — the old quaint but antiquated train has been up graded with a superfast lower section and a new fast four-man chair eases congestion on the second section. The area offers good intermediate pistes and challenging blacks. But it also offers the long runs for which Davos is renowned — Kublis, Saas, Serneus and Klosters (NOTE give all distances). Klosters — mainly for intermediates but it has a terrific long narrow trail (Schwarzseealp) down to the village and the terrifying Wang which is mercifully more or less never open. Plus there is the challenging Kobel Run which was the scene of the Prince Charles avalanche disaster. This ends near a very nice little pub which on sunny days is a treat. Pischa — good intermediate stuff and great for practising your deep-snow technique as you can just ski off to the side of pistes without getting into point-of-no-return danger. Also excellent for spring snow. Jakobshorn — a piste bashers’ delight and the big snow-boarding mountain: it has a half-pipe (which is also floodlit) and a major league apres-ski hang-out at the bottom. Rinerhorn — go by train for a ‘day out’ with a fun barbecue-your-own-lunch restaurant and two good long runs down. Sunny so the pistes can be hard in spring in the morning. Madrisa — the downside is you may run into Fergie but otherwise good open intermediate skiing that is suberb on sunny days and a long black to Klosters Dorf station with a good restaurant halfway down. There is also an off-piste option to Saas and — for the adventurous — a short climb gives the opportunity to ski to Gargellen in Austria. I must point out that this is not an ideal resort for absolute beginners other than young kids who will get so well treated they will never go anywhere else. However, at the other end of the scale, for young and strong skiers the top ski-school class (six) is a go-go-go outfit that will test and exhilarate you. There used to be a similar class (5B) for oldies but that seems to have waned. Throughout the Davos/Klosters region mountain restaurants are numerous and cosy with lots of wood and good Swiss cooking with the inevitable — but excellent — rösti. Personal favourites are the Alte Schwendi on run 25; Schifer on run 24; Gruobenalp on runs 21/22 and Alpenrose at the bottom of Pischa. Hotels are not cheap but by British standards not expensive (minimum CHF80 a night) and offer great value for money. The range is from the huge five-star Belvedere to the erstwhile skibums’ hangout of the (now upgraded) Terminus opposite Platz railway station. For groups, renting apartments is a relatively inexpensive option and there is a very efficient email booking service via the Tourist Office ( Excellent supermarkets serve the needs of self-caterers who will find that prices are generally lower than in the UK. (Or they were until Gordon Brown got around to saving the world.) However ski and boot rental is quite expensive although the equipment is excellent. Frequent buses cover the town and nearby regions and the service is free to visitors. If Davos has a weakness it is nightlife: Clubbing City it ain’t and The Ministry of Sound could do worse than opening a branch. Having said that Davos is a skiing town: going to bed at 9pm is far from uncommon and if one wants Saux d’Oulx that’s where one should go. The Central Bar is old-fashioned and expensive but the Ex Bar offers one of Europe’s better pick-up joints with good music and great atmosphere; the Dischma is worth a visit if only to see the last surviving tartan wall-covering; the Chami Bar is lively and the newly opened Paulaner bierkeller in the Sheraton is busy and friendly with schmaltzy music. Davos is very child friendly. getting there: Easyjet flies to Zurich and reasonable deals are available from Swissair and BA. The train transfer starts at the airport and takes about three hours. It involves two painless changes in Zurich’s main station and Landquart. If possible make the journey in daylight as the ride along the Zurchersee is definitely better than the view from the 8.15am from Penge to London Bridge. You can also fly Ryanair to Friedrichshafen (just inside Germany) and hook up with the inexpensive taxi transfer to Davos. Travel companies offering packages include Powder Byrne. (NOTE add two) FOR Non skiers and lunchers In no particular order: Hubli’s Landhaus in Laret is a smart restaurant and pretty good. Check opening times. It is about 100m from where the bus stops, which goes from in front of Hotel Flüela. The walk into ‘main’ Laret village is not worth the effort. I still like the Flüeli Stubli for lunch but the old days when one found Cecil Parkinson and his wife, not alas mistress, at the next table have gone. If your expense budget is generous they have some terrific Pauillac — I can’t afford it but a rich French acquaintance gave me a couple of glasses one day. Try the alte Gredig grappa. H. Meierhof probably has the culinary crown now and the boys and girls are very nice. Gasthof Tschuggen is up beyond Pischa cable car (closed Wed/Thur I haven’t tried it but it should make a nice little trip up the Flüela valley. Run by the bloke who owns H. Parsenn that used to have a heaving apres-ski bar but is now a bit staid. His son is very friendly and does a great job running the H. Parsenn with his v. nice wife. Parsenn food is good but best is its very sunny terrace in late March where I have spent many a bottle of red — spring skiing really ends by 1pm so one’s conscience is clear. One of my favourites is the pub in the middle of the charming village of Serneus (not Serneus Bad). I don’t know its name and couldn’t find it easily on Google. Part of the attraction is that it is at the end of a great ski run but you can get there easily by bus from Klosters bahnhof. (It is a dauntingly long walk from Serneus station speaking as one who did it in skiboots once for some long-forgotten reason.) It is closed on Mondays. If you care for it there is a restaurant at the top of Weissfluh — up Parsenn then up in cable car and short walk. On a clear day the panorama is spectacular. On a sunny day the terrace of Hotel Kulm in Wolfgang is good. Bus goes from Parsenn. It is at the bottom of the steep Maierhof piste but be warned, once you’re in it there is no escape route. I like it but the bottom section is steep. You can also walk round the lake to get there. There is a restaurant immediately at the top of the Pischa cable car and while I can’t particularly recommend the food it’s a nice bus ride up the valley. If you go a better eats bet is the Alpenrose which is 100m or so up from the Pischa bus stop. Probably a must to visit the H. Wynegg run by Ruth Guler in Klosters as Prince Charles used to stay there. (He now stays in the new five-star joint down the road.) Wynegg has a nice little restaurant popular with Brit Klosters habitués but none the worse for that. If it’s open one can ski the long and very enjoyable Schwartzseealp run and then walk to the restaurant (see appendix). The place on the opposite corner is also nice in a Swiss gemütlich way. In Klosters I like the old restaurant next to Dorf station. The round beer tent 100m from the Klosters cable car station is jolly for apres-ski about 4pm to 6pm and you can ski to the door. I suppose you must go to Chesa Grischuna where writer Irwin Shaw once held court. It’s a very smart joint but last time I had a bad outbreak of arrogant waiter plague and will not be returning. If you do clubs the Klosters Casa Antica is not bad although you might run into Prince Harry and his mates or — worse — Fergie. I am afraid for me the Davos club scene ended with the death of the old Pöstli Club whose barman was the best (Austrian natch) skier I have ever seen up close. But the Chämi Bar is OK. Earlier though there is the wonderful always busy Ex Bar which is one of my world favourites (next to Schatzalp bus stop). The snowboarding kids’ apres-ski joint is a big shed behind Platz station. It is lively and NOISY. In Platz there is an excellent Ite pizza place at the bottom of the path down by the kirche and the pizza place nearly opposite the Kongresszentrum is also good. At the imposing H Belvedere I have had only lunch on the terrace in summer but its buffet breakfast is renowned. I am sentimentally drawn to the H Rinaldi because the old — dead — owner was a great bloke and I stayed there a lot. The beer is excellent and the Italian cooking is good. (Local argot for beer is ein stange pronounced with a sort of sch at the front.) Some of the waiters have been there for decades which is usually a good sign. The steinpilz risotto always tastes great but beware of the ensuing dreams. There were some little gems on the wine list but it changed hands last year and I haven’t been since then. There is Schneiders for breakfast or tea. Great red grapefruit juice — you have to specify. It is very kleinbürgerlicher Davos but the sex shop over the road sells furry handcuffs. Just over from H. Fluëla is the H. Montana which is is the new apres-ski meet and fine. A day trip mit dem zug to St Moritz is a doddle and you can have boring old tea at the Palace and fight off the Russian zillionaires. All the local Davos lads and indeed lasses are of course perversely more interested in ice-hockey than skiing or boarding and I went for first time last season and enjoyed it. Wear gloves and get a couple of beers. There is an English Museum. I went langlaufing once only — it is very very boring — and found a good restaurant down Frauenkirche way but I’ve never found it since. If you go up the Schatzalp funicular behind the Ex Bar you get to the Thomas Mann Magic Mountain Hotel but I have never been curious enough to do it. appendix The walk from bottom of Schwartzseealp is relatively intuitive. It is essentially a big left swing. From the end of the run turn left under the railway; crest the brow c. 80m and turn right and remount skis; ski past local dope slope keeping left crossing path; then follow nose to road; turn left and Wynegg is an irritating four-min walk to next corner.
Sat 17th 2pm GMT

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