Double the fun on magic mountain

This season, Switzerland’s two stellar ski resorts, Davos and Klosters, have joined forces. All the better for quiet Klosters, says Adrian Mourby

For all its association with royalty, Klosters is surprisingly dull. But then George V liked to holiday in Bognor Regis. The monarchs don’t really do glamour. One glimpse of Hotel Walserhof brings that home. Perched on the edge of town, Prince Charles’s schloss-from-schloss looks like Colditz with fretwork balconies.

So far, there have been no sightings of royals this year, unless you count the well-dusted portraits in the Walserhof’s lobby. I much preferred our hotel, the Vereina, which is newer and more comfortable, except for the little typed signs everywhere: “Please don’t play the piano”; “Please don’t put anything on the window ledge”; “Please push – don’t pull”.

You wonder what Prince Harry, who drinks here, so they say, gets up to before hitting Casa Antica, the one nightclub in town. Apart from shopping for overpriced wooden toys or hanging round outside the over-lit Co-op, there really isn’t much to do in the actual town of Klosters apart from drinking far too much, pounding the piano and brazenly pulling those things you’ve been told to push.

This is the first ski season since Klosters joined forces with Davos down the road to form a larger resort. It’s a wise move, allowing skiers to get information on the newly interconnecting runs and to book centrally rather than via two separate offices. It also makes the joint resort a more attractive proposition. Klosters on its own is fine if all you want to do is come down the slopes, kick off your boots and groan. The off-piste skiing is said to be very good on the mighty Gotschnagrat, but in the valley it’s tediously quiet during the day.

Which is why on our fourth day I told my wife, Kate, I was going to take the local train into Davos. My feet were rebelling against being strapped into ski boots and I wanted a change of scene. After seeing her off on a cable car named “Prince of Wales” in honour of his absent Highness, I waited for the little red train that would rumble me down to Davos.

Though the place is famous now because of the World Economic Forum, Davos has been on the European circuit since the 1860s when its micro-climate became the place to take your ailing lungs. Robert Louis Stevenson attempted to ease his tuberculosis in Davos. Conan Doyle came here in 1899 and wrote an article in praise of skiing. Thomas Mann visited in 1912 after his wife was consigned to the care of Dr Jessen’s Waldsanatorium. He later turned the experience into the opening of his Nobel-prize-winning novel, Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain).

I watched the snow as we trundled down through Laret and Wolfgang and round the frozen Davoser See before getting off at Davos Dorf and clumping my swollen feet around the town. Davos is much more densely developed than Klosters with apartment blocks five storeys high. Every bit of flat land seems to be built on except for the large ice rink, which is closely bordered by hotels and hemmed in by snow-topped trees. Very little remains of the 19th-century spa town. I did find a town hall that used to be 16th century but it had managed to disguise the fact beneath a 20th-century concrete makeover.

Then, just off the Promenade, I came across the Kirchner Museum. I’d heard of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, a German Expressionist, but I didn’t know he’d settled in Davos in 1917 or that this very 1990s museum (all glass and oak parquet) contains the largest collection of his paintings in the world. The exhibition is full of rainbow-coloured landscapes of Davos along with the canvases of dancing girls and those world-weary nudes that everyone painted in the 1920s. The museum is open most days during winter, and there is also a coffee shop. I browsed a catalogue with guilty pleasure. Three days’ skiing and already I was hankering for art galleries.

Heading up through the town I found the funicular with its carriages decorated in red and white Coca-Cola livery. As we inched our way up the Parsennbahn, skiers flew past in a riot of red and blue while snowboarders sprawled in the snow. I found I didn’t envy them at all as I leafed through my Kirchner postcards. At the top I changed to a smaller funicular that chugged me to the 2,844m summit of the Weissfluhgipfel. Here Kate was waiting at the door to a small restaurant, pink-cheeked and exhilarated having spent the morning zigzagging down red runs to get here ahead of me.

“What kept you?”

“Coffee and culture,” I admitted.

For a while we talked like members of two different tribes. Kate wanted to take me through the piste map in detail while I wanted to talk about Expressionism. But food and beer thawed us out and we began to take an interest in each other’s morning. Afterwards we went together to look at the view across the blue peaks of the Graubünden, and it was just as lovely for those of us who had taken the train from Davos as those who had skied over from Klosters.

Compact facts

How to get there

Crystal Finest (0871 231 5670; offers a week’s bed and breakfast in Davos-Klosters from £849 per person including flights and transfers.

Further information

Davos-Klosters tourist information:

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own