Summer and Winter: Val Roseg, Escape in the Engadin

The second article in a Summer and Winter blog series of four.

I’m on Google Maps right now and can see that our lodge in the remote Val Roseg is just five kilometers from St. Moritz—something you’d never imagine as I gaze up the long glacial-fed valley and see no sign of any human activity. No buildings. No ski slopes. Just the towering peaks of the Bernina Alps on three sides and the remains of two glaciers at the top of the valley.

In such a deep valley, with two giants of the Bernina Alps, Piz Tschierva to the east and Piz Corvatsch to the west, the floor of Val Roseg doesn’t get direct sun until 11:30 am. Still, by 10:00 am there are waves of cross-country skiers making their 7 km uphill ascent from Pontresina to the Hotel Roseg Gletscher in the heart of the Val Roseg. Others walk about 90 minutes up the valley on a groomed winter walking trail, while many others come by way of a romantic horse-drawn sleigh.

Horse drawn sleigh
Ride a horse drawn sleigh for a fun winter adventure.

For most who come to the Val Roseg in winter, their ultimate destination is the Hotel Roseg Gletscher. The mountain lodge started life over a hundred years ago as a horse-changing station for visitors and hunters who were continuing up to the Coaz or Tshcierva Huts, or to hunt game in the remote reaches of the valley. Around the turn of the last century the glaciers poured out onto the valley floor and were much more visible from the middle of the valley where the hotel stands today.

Hotel Roseg Gletscher in Winter
The Hotel Roseg Gletscher in winter.

The Hotel Roseg Gletscher tagline is “where you eat lusciously and sleep heavenly.” The hotel has simple double, single or family rooms with shower, toilet, TV and internet, and many rooms have stunning valley views. There’s also an adjacent building where they can accommodate up to 100 people in several rooms, each with four to eight beds and shared showers and toilets down the hall. We stayed two blissful nights at the Hotel Roseg Gletscher in late January and were the only guests at the hotel on both nights. We had the entire hotel restaurant staff, and for that matter, the entire valley to ourselves. Experiencing alpenglow-hued sunsets and sunrises, stargazing, and spying on busy squirrels and birds was more enchanting than anything that might have been on the room’s television. It was two days of pure heaven.

The great bulk of visitors to the Hotel Roseg Gletscher come as day guests, and specifically for the restaurant, which has a wonderful menu with a variety of Swiss and local specialties. In the fall and winter there is always game on the menu, so items like deer carpaccio and saddle of venison are especially popular. But the show stealer, and the reason most visitors come for lunch, is the famous dessert buffet. The dessert buffet alone is worth the trip, even if you had to hobble up on two broken skis. There’s Linzertorte, Sacher torte, blueberry crumble, apple strudel, chocolate mousse—and that’s just the beginning—They’re all superb. On any given sunny winter day there will be well over a hundred visitors making their way up the valley just for lunch and sometimes just for the dessert buffet.

val roseg summer
Val Roseg is gorgeous year-round.

This winter trip was not my first visit to Val Roseg or to the Hotel Roseg Gletscher. I had been four times before, but in summer. The Val Roseg is a great hiking destination and lunch stop before continuing up the valley or up the mountainside to the south and on to Fuorcla Surlej. But this was my first overnight stay at the hotel and the first time to make it a base for cross country skiing and exploring the valley.

You can rent skis at the cross-country center across from the train station and the hotel can take your bags, leaving you the opportunity to ski in, stay the night, and make the downhill return to Pontresina the next morning. The morning descent from the Hotel Roseg Gletscher to Pontresina in the morning was one of the finest ski descents of my life. This is something I would definitely do again.

Excellent News: You can now enjoy the Val Roseg, Pontresina and St. Moritz area on our Best of the Engadine and St. Moritz Tour

Greg Witt
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