Sunday, March 21, 2010
Scoul Switzerland Recommendations
We returned to Scoul, one of our favorite places in Switzerland, for our ski holiday this year. The weather was great and the snow was fine. Scoul is about four hours from Zurich by railway. This post lists some of the reasons we love Scoul.
First, of course, is the Rhaetische Bahn; Scoul is the terminal station (shown in the photo above) at the southeastern end of the Engadine Valley (St Moritz is at the other end of the valley). The Rhaetische Bahn is a narrow gauge railway that serves the canton of Grabunden. It operates the famous Bernina Express and Glacier Express. This is a special year because the Bernina line is 100 years old. Anyway, the Rhaetische Bahn is exactly as you imagine a Swiss railroad: small red trains traveling through a magnificent landscape. If the weather had not been so good we would have taken a few joyrides over the Bernina Pass, but that will need to wait for this summer.
The skiing in Scoul is very good. Switzerland is spoiled for all the wonderful places to ski and Scoul, which would be on the top of the list in any other country, is not as popular as the more famous resorts. But, of course that has the positive side that it's a little less crowded and a little less expensive. The lifts are also a bit outdated (they have several Tee bars and old chairlifts in addition to the brand new gondola and a couple new chairlifts).
Another great reason to go to Scoul is the mineral bath. They have a relatively modern bath complex right in the middle of the town. My favorite part of the bath is the outdoor section with a view of the mountain peaks in the not so far distance (see the photo on their website). You can visit the bath for three hours (bring your own towel) or do something called the Roman-Irish bath, which is a two-and-a-half hour experience of going from sauna to massage to steam bath to different temperature mineral pools, followed by a half-hour rest. We've done both and they are highly recommended. You need to book the Roman-Irish bath in advance, see their website.
Scoul is a tourist destination and there are many places to eat and sleep. The old town down the hill from the main street, has wonderful historic architecture and traditional guest houses. The main street has several historic and modern hotels with all the comforts you would expect in Switzerland.
We have stayed at the Hotel Traube, an historic hotel, the Hotel Curuna, a very nice hotel with a very good breakfast, and Chasa Sofia, a four-room bed and breakfast that is out of this world. All three are located right in the center of Scoul, within five-minute walk of the bath.
Finally there's lots of great food in Scoul. We visited a wonderful cafe on our trip in February: Mund Art. It's a great place for cake and coffee or a drink anytime (try the local beer: Biera Engiadinaisa). The people are wonderfully nice and friendly, the owner gave us a tasting of his homemade chili pepper syrup.
We had a wonderful dinner at the Hotel Traube restaurant (they also have Biera Engiadinaisa). Their wine list is superb, they probably have 50 different wines from the Canton of Grabunden; we had an excellent Pinot Noir (Blauburgunder) from Annatina Pelizzatti. We all had variations of venison (Wild), either steak (shown in the photo upper left) or stew with spatzele, one of my favorite wintertime mountain village dishes.
Finally, no trip to Scoul would be complete for us without a visit to the Pizzaria Giovanni adjacent to the Hotel Curuna. They have a wood-fired oven, use local organic ingredients where possible and have a wide variety of dishes beyond pizza, but the pizza is great. Service was a little scattered on our visit but the food was fine.
We can't wait until our next visit to Scoul!