All Aboard

Switzerland’s luxury train connects swanky St. Moritz with car-free Zermatt

The 8-hour journey across Switzerland on the Glacier Express, deemed “slowest express train in the world,” isn’t one you wish to hurry along. A window to the majestic Alps, the train rolls through idyllic alpine villages, over imposing viaducts and deep ravines, keeping one in awe and anticipation of what’s around the next bend. The historic, scenic railway dates from 1930, and it’s all the more enchanting these days with the addition of Excellence Class in two newly designed, 20-passenger coaches.

Featuring expansive windows and a plush window seat for every passenger, the Excellence Class experience includes a multicourse, wine-paired meal and concierge service, along with individual iPads with infotainment on area highlights. A huge compass on the ceiling of the bar, part decor and part conversation piece, is amusingly said to “help disoriented passengers get their bearings after long curves, tunnels and bridges at dizzying heights.”

Glacier Express is not only about the journey. At either end of the route, the famed resort towns offer ample reason to linger: two-time Olympic host St. Moritz for its glamour and cultural scene, and Zermatt for its mountain vibe and unique setting at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn. Originally settled as a remote farming community, Zermatt evolved into a mountain sports mecca, largely because of the beguiling pyramid-like peak that inspired alpinists, artists and tourists alike, and even gave rise to the uniquely shaped Swiss Toblerone chocolate.

Zermatt’s chic hotels, restaurants and shops are abuzz during the peak summer and winter seasons. In the heart of the car-free village, the classically elegant Grand Hotel Zermatterhof and Mont Cervin Palace offer every amenity, including railway station pickup by horse-drawn carriage. Away from it all and up the slopes, Riffelalp Resort is a five-star hideaway at 2,222 meters of elevation. Getting there by way of Zermatt’s Gornergrat cogwheel railway affords yet another opportunity to marvel in the splendor of the Alps.