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Just three miles from the glitz and glamour of St Moritz, the Nira Alpina is a more understated hotel in the pretty Engadin Valley village of Surlej, by Silvaplana. The genius of the hotel is that, unlike other St Moritz and Silvaplana hotels, the Nira Alpina is effectively a ski in, ski out property thanks to a private walkway to the Corvatsch cable car, which in turn whisks guests to the highest point of the entire ski area.
The hotel itself is part of the Design Hotels group, with sophisticated, contemporary public areas and rooms and suites that almost all have either terraces or balconies overlooking the Engadin Mountains and Lake Silvaplana. The design incorporates plenty of spruce, stone and suede to create elegant accommodation with granite bathrooms all featuring both baths and showers.
The Nira Alpina has several restaurants, including Stars, the star of the show and found on the top floor with wonderful panoramic views of the valley. Stars specialises in a culinary 'best of' selection of favourite dishes from around the world so you could have Peruvian cerviche to start with followed by Indian tandoori king prawns. There is also a funky top floor bar next door. Elsewhere, the charming stubli-style wood panelled Stalla Veglia trattoria serves good quality Italian dishes that are perfect for families. Also providing an excellent children's menu is the Nira Alpina Bistro, which offers healthy and quick dishes from an open kitchen. When the sun shines the Bistro's terrace is the place to soak up the sun with a coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger. Sweet toothed guests should also head to the in-house bakery for traditional chocolate croissants, vanilla turnovers and cupcakes. Finally, the cosy Pichalain is the hotel's apres-ski hut, which operates on a first come first served basis in winter for evening drinks and dinner.
In winter the Nira Spa is a sanctuary for resting tired apres-ski limbs, and has five treatment rooms, steam room, sauna, gym and whirlpool, and treatments on offer including a full range of massages, manicures, facials and other rejuvenating therapies such as hot stone chakra placement. While mums and dads enjoy the spa treatments, children can muck around in the Kid's Club and everyone can relax in the mezzanine floor library, complete with leather armchairs and cowhide rugs and which is well stocked with books for grown-ups and children alike.