I started coming to Switzerland when I was 12 years old to visit my godfather, the gallerist Bruno Bischofberger. He worked with my father [artist Julian Schnabel] and we always had a special relationship, so I started to visit St Moritz separately to spend time with him. It’s special: a fairytale land that’s set in the high Engadin Valley. 

When I was looking to open my first gallery outside of the US, I came to St Moritz on one of my European visits. Bruno was in the process of shutting down his iconic gallery and asked if I would like the space. He said I needed to decide quickly – I called him back a few days later to let him know I’d take it. I love the history of this place; Francesco Clemente painted here, and so did Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. This gallery has given me an incredible platform to show art in Europe.

Schnabel recommends Langosteria for its seafood
Schnabel recommends Langosteria for its seafood

I tend to come to St Moritz between December and March, and then again in the summer when the town has a very different feel. In the winter I spend my time snowboarding, skiing, sledding and playing pick-up hockey. For snowboarding, I like the freeride terrain at Corviglia, Diovalezza and Corvatsch.

There is no shortage of great places to eat on all of these mountains. One of the best new restaurants is the ski-in, ski-out Langosteria, which is famous for seafood. The Corviglia Club is a special members-only spot with a lot of history. I’m not a member, but I like the warm environment there and it’s good for kids because of its slide. 

Schnabel opened his first gallery outside the US in St Moritz
Schnabel opened his first gallery outside the US in St Moritz © Weston Wells
Kulm’s bar is among the gallerist’s favourites
Kulm’s bar is among the gallerist’s favourites © Kulm Hotel St Moritz

Après-ski is a real thing in St Moritz, with Badrutt’s Palace and the Kulm Hotel bars among my favourites. The Palace’s Renaissance Bar – known locally as Mario’s – is the place for a hot Negroni by the fire. My favourite staff member is Edoardo, – ask for him if you are ever there. The Altitude Bar at the Kulm Hotel, just across from the gallery, is another excellent spot, as is the redesigned Kulm Country Club bar just next door. It was reimagined by architect and part-time resident Norman Foster, and it has a modern feel, but with all kinds of vintage sports photographs and memorabilia that recall St Moritz’s past.

In terms of restaurants, Chasellas – operated by the Suvretta House hotel, at the entrance to skiing and hiking areas – is one of my favourites for lunch or dinner. The menu is a mix of Swiss and Italian and it’s extremely hearty. Their other restaurant, Trutz, is a casual on-mountain place that serves a rösti with cheese, bacon and fried egg, with beautiful views of the lake. I tend to skip breakfast, ski until 12.30pm, and then have a big lunch.

Views over the valley from Trutz
Views over the valley from Trutz © Daniel Martinek Photography
Rösti with cheese, bacon and fried egg at Trutz
Rösti with cheese, bacon and fried egg at Trutz © Steve Hadorn

One of the gems of the valley is the Villa Flor in nearby S-chanf. It’s a hotel and art space that’s owned by my friend, Ladina Florineth, and her restaurant is authentically Swiss. Pontresina is another charming town that I’ll explore while running – it’s just over 5km from St Moritz but feels far removed. For an old school hotel, The Waldhaus in nearby Sils-Maria has a deep cultural history – Albert Einstein stayed there. From there you can take a horse-drawn sleigh to the scenic Fex Valley, all while tucked under a fur blanket and sipping glühwein.

The train journey from Zürich to St Moritz takes between three to four hours
The train journey from Zürich to St Moritz takes between three to four hours © Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
Hotel and art space Villa Flor
Hotel and art space Villa Flor

The Cresta Run, a historic, ice-covered chute, gets a lot of the sleighing attention in St Moritz, but you can also take a train to Preda for a four-mile toboggan run on wooden sleighs. It’s definitely the longest track I’ve ever been on. Follow it up with a warm meal at Dorta, a converted farmhouse that serves local specialities.

Back in St Moritz, I’ll always drop by Moncler, where the store and the products are all beautiful. I also like Lamm, a landmark cashmere store worth visiting, but I tend not to shop very much while I am here – I’d rather be outside.

The Segantini Museum
The Segantini Museum © Gian Giovanoli

In terms of other culture, the Segantini Museum is a St Moritz highlight, featuring paintings by the alpine artist Giovanni Segantini, who painted the surrounding landscape. And I am excited to bring Ai Wei Wei here [until 8 April] – St Moritz is the perfect platform for his work. For me, it remains the most sophisticated destination in the world; the nature is staggeringly beautiful and the history is rich, too. 


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