Riders Palace has raised the style bar for contemporary alpine lodging.A classic example of 21st century minimalism, its architecture and décor give more of a nod to Manhattan loft living than Swiss chocolate box chalets.
Everything in Riders is both unusual and ergonomic. Its mirror-glazed façade offers unrestricted views of the mountains, and reflects the sky and mountains so as to blend in with the environment.
Opened in 2001, the Palace is built of only three main materials – stone, wood and glass.The stone and wood pays homage to the traditional construction methods used in the local Surselva region, whilst the glass reflects the urban, freethinking-meets-freeriding background of its clientele. Guestrooms are white-walled with the odd sprinkling of colour, and feature the latest multimedia wizardry, supplied by sponsors Sony. Downstairs a hi-tech cocktail bar and club (sponsored by the Ministry of Sound) comes complete with blazing beats and a line-up that last season included sets from Ronnie Size,Asian Dub Foundation and De La Soul. The hotel’s efforts to push boundaries was rewarded in 2002 when it won the tourism equivalent of an Oscar, the ‘Milestone Tourism Award Switzerland’.
Despite its cutting-edge pretensions, the Palace offers a pricing structure for all budgets. Its ‘Back to Basics’ category offers cash-strapped riders a bunk in a dormitory room for under £15 per night. Bookings are made on-line to keep overheads minimal.
What is also unusual is the hotel’s location in the traditional farming community of Laax, which has buildings dating back to the 16th century. As a resort, however, it is particularly rider friendly, boasting three halfpipes as well as hosting a number of top snowboarding events each winter. Riders Palace, Laax, Switzerland, www.riderspalace.ch